2013 Mercedes: To race or not to race?

I am going to be otherwise engaged after today until after the weekend, but there are a few stories knocking around today, so we’ll have a brief look at a few of them.

Mercedes pulling out of F1?

Today a number of German publications have been carrying the “Mercedes pulling out of F1” story, in particular Auto motor und sport. Mercedes have consistently refused to sign the new Concorde agreement with Ecclestone’s FOM to commit to the sport until 2020.

It appears that earlier this year, Mercedes were not happy with the proposed slice of money they’ve been offered which has prevented them from entering into the Concorde agreement. Since then there have been rumours that the main board of the German car manufacturer wish to distance themselves from association with Bernie Ecclestone following his alleged involvement in the bribery scandal that has seen a German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky sent to jail for nearly 9 years.

Then Mercedes announce today they will not decide on Schumacher’s future until October. This is significant because the he deadline for teams to register their 2013 entry is now 30th September 2012 and there is speculation Mercedes will not meet the deadline.

Yet if Mercedes refuse to sign the Concorde agreement it does not prevent them entering a team in the next year’s FIA F1 World Championship. Williams, McLaren and Tyrell did not sign the 4th Concorde agreement (Sept 1996) yet they entered and raced the subsequent years. In the end it was not until nearly 2 years later, the teams reached an accommodation with Bernie Ecclestone. Sauber also did not sign the last agreement in 2009, having indicated they were to withdraw at the end of the season.

So will Mercedes race or not? The story has now developed and it is being suggested that Mercedes the car manufacturer will withdraw from owning and managing an F1 team, but a Ross Brawn led team called AMG F1 may still enter. Déjà vu – Honda?

The consequences of AMG F1 – should this happen – would be Lewis Hamilton’s option to drive for them would probably disappear as they would not have the funds to meet his pay demands.

It could be a giant catch 22 situation. If Lewis signs, Mercedes will remain a works team (with or without Concorde). If not they’ll withdraw. Then again XIX, Lewis’ management company, will not allow Lewis to sign unless they are assured Mercedes will be a works team in 2013.

Confused? It took me a while to put that into words I can tell you.

Last Race in Singapore?

Singapore has become the Monaco F1 event of Asia. It’s spectacular setting and the drama racing under the lights has brought to F1 for the first time is mesmerising. Yet as I wrote in another piece (Shrinking Calendar for 2013) Singapore is in the final year of a 5 year contract.

Crash.net reported back on July 11, “F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had been quoted as saying a new five-year agreement had been reached in a report in Singapore’s Today newspaper on Wednesday, something that would see F1 continue to visit the ‘Lion City’ until 2017.

“Everything that was in the way of the Singapore Grand Prix continuing for another five years has been cleared,” Ecclestone allegedly told the ‘paper.

“I’m happy that this is out of the way because Singapore has been good to F1 and the night race has also been equally good for Singapore.”

But this was quickly rebutted by the Singapore race organisers saying “What is presently on offer from Formula One Administration is insufficient for us to commit to a full five-year extension,” organisers added.

“We remain hopeful at reaching an outcome that is mutually beneficial to all parties.”

There has been no news since. It would be such a shame for F1 to lose this iconic venue and common sense tells us Singapore surely won’t risk losing such excellent publicity from their most prestigious of annual events. Yet common sense says Lewis should stay at McLaren and the Singaporeans are rankled because China successfully renegotiated with Ecclestone for a reduced event fee last year.

Breaking News…. Since I wrote this, www.businessf1.fr has reported that the Singaporean and Kuwait  state investment funds have taken some onwership in CVC – up to 10%. This should help negotiations to extend the race for another 5 years quite nicely one would imagine.

Confusion over tribute to Sid

It’s amazing how F1 a multi-billion dollar sport can make such elementary cock ups. The FOM website today announced there would be a 1 minute of silence held in tribute to Sid Watkins with Bernie Ecclestone on the grid with all the grid personnel just before the race.

At the same time, the FIA published this on their site (the underlining is my emphasis)

 Press Release

 Tribute to Professor Sid Watkins OBE 

20/09/2012 

A number of tributes will take place during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.

Following the sad news of the death of FIA Institute Honorary President, Professor Sid Watkins, the FIA, FIA Institute and Formula One Management will arrange tributes to his memory at the forthcoming Singapore Grand Prix.

On Sunday, before the start of the race, there will be a minute’s applause on the grid in his honour.

Throughout the weekend, a Book of Remembrance will be available for the F1 community to write their own personal messages of condolence.

A bronze bust of Professor Watkins, commissioned for him on the occasion of his retirement last year from the FIA Institute Presidency, will be on display beside the Book of Remembrance throughout the race weekend.  At a later date, the Book will be presented to the Watkins family on behalf of the FIA, FIA Institute and F1 family.

The FIA and the FIA Institute will continue to consider the most appropriate permanent tribute to Professor Watkins, in recognition of his achievements and his unique legacy for motor sport.

An announcement on this lasting tribute will be made in due course.

Silence or applause – it does not matter. Having watched F1 for over 30 years, I can only suggest that Sid’s passing away is similar to that of death of Senna in terms of the huge number expressions of sorrow from people connected with F1 – and the torrent of tributes that have been made by all in fact have said it all. Good bye Sid, you were a quiet yet truly a great, great man.

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5 responses to “2013 Mercedes: To race or not to race?

  1. Enjoying the new blog judge. You reckon if Mercedes vacate and Brawn starts the new team, will it be back to downsizing the whole team again that they have only recently managed to build up from the Brawn days?

    • Thanks, I’ve been enjoying setting it up. Still battling with site software at times though. lol. Retweets are much appreciated and always help to publicise the site.

      If Mercedes ceases to become a works team, they will have to donwsize and sign the Concorde deal very quickly. Williams have had a £25m payment for signing with Bernie and a Brawn led AMG team would need the cash.

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