Indian GP, Race Strategy: For a full track characteristics overview and Indian GP race strategy report, no one does it better than James Allen on his F1 News site (http://connect.jamesallenonf1.com). Includes: form guide, weather forecast, likely tyre perfomance, pit stop strategy, chance of safety car, start performance table and pit stop table plus comment from one of F1’s most experienced specialist observers.
Press Conference Lists for Indian GP: Friday lineup looks more exciting than Thursday. Kimi the only top driver – and to say he’s concise would be an understatement. Vijay Mallya is conspicuous by his absence as fears over mass Kingfisher staff demonstrations have grown. (Force India: How the tower of cards will collapse)
|Thursday, October 25
||Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
Narain Karthikeyan (HRT)
Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham)
Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
Bruno Senna (Williams)
Jean–Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
|Friday, October 26
||Cyril Abiteboul (Caterham)
Eric Boullier (Lotus)
Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari)
Christian Horner (Red Bull)
Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber)
Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren)
|Saturday, October 27
||Post Qualifying *
||Three fastest Drivers from Qualifying
|Sunday, October 28
||Post Race *
||First three finishing Drivers
Honda no chance for 2014: Renault have released details of their 2014 turbo engine which of course was originally scheduled for use in the 2013 season. Rob White, Renault Sport F1′s Deputy Managing Director, tells us they began work on the project back in 2010 and that “we have now been running development engines of various types since the latter part of last year. First of all we had single cylinder engines running. There are some extremely significant bits of learning needed in order to be ready. We also had a multi-cylinder engine for the previous architecture that was running and has run more recently. We have now run a V6 and the programme is more or less in line with our planning. We’ve got new learning to do: everything to do with direct injection, everything to do with turbocharging in these new conditions, a substantially bigger energy recovery system design.” (pic)
I think that says it all. Renault are building, optimising and maintaining F1 engines at present and yet they felt the need to begin testing physical units some 2 years before they come into service. Unless Honda buy Cosworth or invest monumental amounts of money in designing the new V6 technology, they are out of time for providing the new F1 powertrain for 2014. This would also suggest Cosworth and PURE are on the back foot as they have not done any prototype testing yet, just the design and the R&D and if McLaren are to buy Cosworth – it will need to happen quite soon. (McLaren to buy Cosworth)
Hungarian GP: It appears discussions will be taking place in Abu Dhabi between Mr. E and the promoters of the Hungarian GP whose current contract runs until 2016. The issues are, the F1 supremo wants improvements to the circuit but the promoters are making clear there is a trade-off between what they can spend and what they pay in FOM fee’s. (F1vilage.hu)
Latest from the Buddh International Circuit: The circuit is part of the wider Jaypee sports complex which includes a cricket ground and an 18 hole golf course. It has a capacity of 110,000 and reported 95,000 attended the 2011 event won by Sebastian Vettel. A number of tweaks have been made to the circuit since the 2011 inaugural race. Ferrari were not happy about the ‘Massa kerb’ suggesting it was too high, but the kerb was only 25mm tall and within the FIA regulated maximum height. All the kerbs have now been equalised in height at 25mm to give the drivers a more consistent feel through all the corners. The problem in reality was that the drivers were trying to take shortcuts across the kerbs in turns 8-9 (Massa Kerb), so the organisers with FIA approval have widened the track here from 5m to 15m to allow the drivers more space beyond the apex to complete the turn.
Yet to ensure the drivers do not cut the kerbs this year, the in vogue style sausage kerbs have been implemented at these corners. We’ll see whether this meets with the drivers’ approval or not. Astroturf has been added on the outside of turns 2-3 and 7-8 replacing what was just dried mud in an attempt to give the drivers a more consistent experience should they partially run wide. Let’s hope they use stronger glue than in Korea!The racegoers should have a far better experience this year as 6 huge new video screens have been added taking the total around the track to 17.
Walkways that were hard ground have been paved and substantial grassy banks have been added in an attempt to create wind breaks and capture the dust blown across the circuit by the wind. Yet the BIC reports today that the track is very dusty, a problem a number of the new circuits have faced. A fleet of new track sweepers that utilise a water mist spray system have been deployed for the past 2 weeks in an attempt to scrub the racing surface clean and this battle will continue right up to the race weekend.
The not so good news for the race organisers is the fact that very few tickets have been sold. With the average wage of a worker in New Delhi being $5, the starting price of $38 (a weeks wages) for a Sunday General Admission ticket is steep. It was suggested in the Times of India this week that New Delhiites are followers of style and vogue. Last year the BIC was the place to be seen but the word is not so this year. Suggestions of 55-60,000 in attendance have been made, and this is not unusual in the 2nd year of hosting a race to see a downfall in attendance. (The Times of India)
Lauda Watch: A 9 year jail sentence has been handed out to sentence handed out to Michael Seidl of Money Services Group – subject to appeal (Klein Zeitung). Thejudge13 reported last week that Lauda and others had been conned out of 30m euros (link) whilst Seidl lived a life of opulent luxury. Lauda said in court “In my entire life I have never been so ripped off as I was with this con. The bottom line is that he [Seidl] was a complete con man – I should have punched him when I had the chance to bring the point home”. Lauda wore a blue cap with MSG on the front for 6 months in 2011, before realising his mistake and persuading Aabar Ivestments pay for his hats instead.
The first full lap of COTA: Great footage of the first lap of the new Texas track by an F1 car. On board camera with Mario Andretti at the wheel of his 1978 championship winning Lotus 79. Don’t know if it’s me, but the front tyres look small. (video).
Kingfisher update: It appears that the demise of Kingfisher will be prolonged and slow. The problem, according to creditors who advanced finance to fund the airline, is that the debts are so vast that it is not worth calling in the assets pledged because they will return less than 20% of the capital outstanding. Even though Kingfisher last week sold a stake in United Spirits to Diageo, the funds released merely deal with short-term operating cash requirements and around 70% of United Spirits revenue is swallowed up in servicing debt.
Kingfisher has been India’s largest airline, but has never made a profit since its inception in 2004. Mallya claimed to have ordered 5 of the Airbus super jumbo A380’s at a cost of nearly $400m each, though Airbus order book does not reflect this.
The banks have been desperate to believe in Vijay’s promise of a new equity investment from as yet ‘unknown’ middle eastern sources, but this promise is wearing thin since first made in 2009. The context of the airline business is that in the last 10 years nearly 50 US airlines have failed as have 10 in India, and buying a failing airline is generally considered more expensive than starting one from scratch.
The Mumbai lenders are rather desperate and they said today that the only solution is for Mallya to find a new partner for the airline, as there is no more money on offer from them, but Vijay has been trudging a lonely search for partners for nearly 2 years now (Economic Times)
How does this affect Force India? It is unlikely Mallya will be able to hold onto the team or would even want to yet the team’s senior management appear to believe all will be well and they see Vijay as a friendly father figure. Whether Vijay himself is deluded or protecting the team from what is ultimately inevitable is unclear.
On the plus side for the team, there are usually buyers for F1 teams as Vijay himself bought the defunct Spyker team for $90m in 2008 – though who would buy Force India is not clear at present. Sahara who own 42.5% of the team have their own problems and are required to raise around $4bn to lodge with Indian authorities to recompense around 20 million small investors defrauded of their money.
Here is some interesting footage of the Mallya playboy villa in Goa (video).
Just in – Force India Sale (link)
Schumacher and Switzerland: Switzerland has been tightening its tax laws on rich foreign residents. Certain regions have had rules that tax only über wealthy foreign nationals on the rental value of their property rather than their income so long as they do not work in the country. Regions like Zurich, Schaffhausen and Appenzell have already scrapped these tax policies in recent times following local referendums on the matter. (Reuters)
The special tax break was first introduced in 1862 by the canton of Vaud along Lake Geneva in a bid to help the tourist industry by encouraging wealthy pensioners to move to the country, but sufficient signatures have been gathered to force a referendum here too. The government says 22,000 jobs are dependent on the scheme and the likes of Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Jackie Stewart, Roger Moore and Phil Collins are but a few live in this area.
But last month parliament rejected a proposal by the centre-left Social Democrats to scrap the tax breaks. Instead it adopted a government plan to increase the basis on which taxes are levied to seven times the annual rental value of rich foreigners’ homes from five times previously.
The Alternative Left party condemned that as a mere “cosmetic tightening” and joined the Social Democrats and trade unions to collect the necessary signatures to force a nationwide vote. The cabinet and parliament must now debate the initiative before it goes to a popular vote – discussions which could delay the referendum but not prevent it going ahead.
Schumacher who has built a $40m home on the lake and is reportedly worth $500m says, ““I can imagine many wealthy foreigners like myself would leave if the tax deal ended.” (pic of Schumacher home)
(This page will update throughout the day with more stories – check back later)
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