Daily #F1 News and Comment: Sunday 28 July 2013
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Lotus money troubles (10:30)
Brawn to Ferrari?(12:03)
Lotus money troubles
In June TJ13 reported that Lotus has a new investor, Infinity Racing, who would be taking a 35% stake on Lotus F1. The investment would “bring our [Infinity Racing] technological capabilities” however what exactly that is has yet to become clear.
It now appears Lotus is in need of another kind of investment, the one that would put more money into their coffers to pay their star driver. Raikkonen is quoted by sport1.de that “There is some problem,” with being paid. He went on to say “This happened last year, now again so it is not ideal“.
Red Bull obviously would not have a problem paying the Finn the money he is after however there is also a young Australian vying for the seat, and although not a proven quantity such as Raikkonen, will work hard and can be used for sponsorship appearances.
Perhaps Lotus should start laying down their own requirement, for a bit more work Raikkonen will get paid on time.
More doubts over Sauber’s Russian saviours
Two weeks ago TJ13 reported that Sauber’s new Russian investor received some scorn from Swiss and German media. As more details of the deal is becoming available it appears the deal hinges on Sirotkin getting a FIA super license to allow him to race in Formula 1.
This alone may prove challenging as Todt is very cautious of awarding super licenses to inexperienced racing drivers. Yes, Raikkonen did get his super license without much experience and raced under probation but with the focus on driver behaviour (Maldonado etc) there is a feeling in the paddock that Sirotkin just don’t have enough experience.
German news paper ‘Welt’ reports that should the Russian not get a license, Sauber will only get the 10 million euros that has been made available to pay ‘pressing’ debts. However with Ferrari threatening to stop it’s supply of engines if the 19 million euro debt is not settled before Spa the team may well be without engines in the near future.
And now for the cold war espionage bit. It appears the deal will also make available all the inner secrets of the Sauber Formula 1 team, including Ferrari engine technology. Ferrari is obviously not happy about the latter. One of the companies backing Sirotkin is Rostec and looking at their website, ‘Rostec comprises approximately 663 companies, which are to form defence industry complex and civil industry holding companies’.
They also have partnerships with Daimler, Renault-Nissan (LADA) and Pirelli to name a few. The questions is, who will benefit the most from this partnership?
Brawn to Ferrari?
Since Toto Wolff jumped ship and at the same time leaked that Paddy Lowe would also be recruited, Ross Brawn’s future at Mercedes has been in doubt.
Lauda clashed with Brawn over how they should handle matters with the International Tribunal, but with the clarity of hindsight Brawn appears to have handled the matter openly and to this end the Daimler board continues to back him.
There have been recent suggestions Wolff has also been critical of Brawn, though again nothing specific and quotable from either party, but the long term pressure on Brawn’s position continues.
Brawn agrees telling Die Welt, “there’s been a lot of speculation, however, the [succession] plan was designed more for the future. The idea was that my role in the team would change with time and Paddy would then take on more responsibility“.
Brawn reveals that he did not expect Lowe to join the team until his garden leave was complete at the end of 2013, “But now he’s here early and we need to rethink our original plans. At the moment Paddy helps wherever he can“.
It is clear Ross Brawn is still in charge when he states, “I am responsible, Paddy works for me, but at some point in the future it will change. I don’t know when. I’m already looking forward to the new season, 2014 will be a very exciting year with completely new technology. Mercedes will be in good shape obviously and it will be great fun“.
When pressed on the matter of ‘when’ any handover will occur Brawn says, “I will work with Paddy for the next six months, maybe longer. When the transition occurs, it will be a soft handover“. Yet Ross is cagey about what will happen after that, “I don’t know what role I’ll have in the long term. There are various options. I like the team, and the people“.
Having dominated the sport along with Adrian Newey for around 20 years, it is inconceivable Ross Brawn will act in a subordinate role to Lowe – or even as a consultant to the team.
Further, winds of change could be taking place in Maranello; Fernando Alonso has pretty much been denied nothing during his tenure, winning out over the battle to retain Massa for 2013. Alonso is a galactico who is refused little.
Yet he was keen the team recruit Pat Symonds who delivered for Renault and Alonso 2 world titles. This idea was comprehensively dismissed and for a brief period incremental tension grew between Ferrari’s top driver and the team’s senior management.
Recruiting Symonds appears on the face of it seems a good idea for Ferrari. Mercedes have ploughed a furrow which has seen them recruit a number of ‘directors’ who in other teams are senior enough to hold either the role of team principal or the technical director position.
When considering budgets of $200m a year, the cost of these people is a drop in the ocean as none are receiving the $10m Newey is reported to be remunerated. Symonds would have cost relatively little and been a positive addition to the Ferrari structure.
However, Ferrari appears to have other ideas about who they want in their pursuit of a Mercedes style management structure. TJ13 reported weeks ago, the minutia of the deal between Allison and Ferrari was being completed; this now appears to be done.
In addition, TJ13 has heard today that Ross Brawn is in talks with Il Padrino over a return to Maranello with the hope he can help bring back the glory days of 6 consecutive world title’s to the Italian racing marquee.
Having been informed the team were not interested in recruiting Symonds who Alonso favours from their past time together, Fernando is presenting in a remarkably relaxed manner this weekend and his angst displayed in Germany is not evident.
Brawn to Ferrari – it’s not a done deal but there are talks taking place.