Mallya: Boss of stricken Kingfisher Airlines – has bounced cheque charges dropped (business today), and has paid off his arrears on the airport fees – presumably because he has raised some cash from selling a chunk of United Spirits to Diageo (Mallya forced to sell). Before the champagne (Crystal we think) is cracked this may just be the beginning of Vijay’s problems, because everyone else who is owed money should have realised the way to get paid is to issue legal proceedings. Indian tax authorities who have not received the deducted tax deducted Kingfisher Airlines from their employees are beginning action – it may be some employees are technically liable themselves even thought the Mallya company has taken the money from them. (Economic Times). The Indian courts may find themselves very busy soon particularly if the author of “Is Vijay Mallya India’s worst businessman” is correct. (firstpost.com)
Mercedes: After being heavily criticised by Helmut Marco for recruiting 3 former team technical directors to head up sub-divisions of Mercedes F1 (link), it appears Ross Brawn has decided that he has enough his search for “art directors” and is looking for some “Indians” – less expensive candidates. Here is a link if you are an undergraduate and interested in taking a 1 year placement with the team. (Merc Grad Recruit). To be fair, an amazing opportunity.
LAUDA WATCH: (link) is on hold as he appears to be lying low this week, and its time for STEWART STALK. The BBC appear to have some sort of arrangement with Sir Jack as he has featured as their lead article 3 times in 13 days (link). As mentioned previously these are often a touch condescending and prejudicial but at least free on BBC.com. F1Racing.com, who will relieve you of £45 (1440 nickels in American speak) a year for 12 issues of their opinion, have an inside track to Stewart. Divulging the secrets of F1 to us lesser mortals who have never been lucky enough to drive an F1 car , Stewart confides “A car is like a woman, cornering is like bringing her to climax”???. I was stood about 3 feet from Sir Jack on the track at Monza after the race, and I can assure you at his time of life and in his state of repair that is one image my mind cannot take – particularly over breakfast it ruined my Lapsang Souchong.
F1 Cinema film Rush: The much-anticipated film about Hunt and Lauda from director Happy Days star Ron Howard is now in quality checking (link) – whatever that means. You learn something everyday, but apparently James Hunt was a pretty committed swordsman. He was more famous though for his unconventional behaviour on and off the track, having drugs and sex often minutes before a race – 33 BA air hostesses one night before competing (Daily Mail). Apparently Jackie Stewart abstained from sex a week before a GP weekend – maybe that’s why he’s talking the way he is today. Anyway, James Hunt’s old house is up for sale in Wimbledon, London for a cool £6.45m. (Kinght Frank).
Koren grid girls and a Thai race: Auto Motor and Sport continue their gallery of grid girls with the inclusion of those from Korea. They complain about the lack of girl’s in Japan but applaud the Korean girls for their pretty smiles and unusual gesticulations in front of the lens? Apparently, “Individually, the girls were hard to find…[but] the Korean ladies like to put on to group photos”. With this kind of sentiment, maybe that’s why the girls were gesticulating at the photographer. There may be Thai grid girls on offer soon if Kanokphand Chulakasem, the man in charge of the Thailand Sports Authority has his way. The problem is that the bill for a typical 7 year contract will be around $700m including the Fees to Bernie together with the street circuit set up and dismantle costs each year. Further, Mr. Chulakasem suggests 40% will be met by private investors, though Ecclestone will want the government to indemnify the whole amount. The Thai sports minister claims the costs will be less than $40m a year but it is heard to see FOM accepting that kind of fee when 10 years ago it was $50m (Saward)
Cosworth up for Sale: The have been producing F1 engines since 1963 – winning 155 GP. This is not a doom and gloom story as was the Lola failure to sell. It is most likely they will have more than 1 suitor following diversification in recent years into a number of engineering activities. They do need funds to develop 2014 engine designs from the drawing board to completion and have considered a float in recent times. Rolls Royce maybe interested – or possibly Porsche? (ESPN) There have been a number of Porsche stories around recently – but nothing well sourced or even with a quote from Gerhard the night watchman at the Stuttgart factory. Anyway Porsche have previous in F1, and it was either brilliant or poor. Brilliant: They produced the water-cooled V6 turbo engines badged as TAG units for the McLaren Team and these TAG-Porsche-powered cars took two constructor championships in 1984 and 1985 along with three driver crowns between 1984 and 1986. In all the engines powered McLaren to 25 victories between 1984 and 1987. Poor: The Porsche 3512 V12 3.5 litre non-turbo engine was their last forray into F1 in 1991. The engine didn’t initially fit into the Arrows car for which it was designed and it weighed a whopping 418lbs compared to Ferrari’s V12 at 308lbs. It was highly unreliable and the Arrows team ditched it following the French GP returning to a Cosworth engine for the rest of the season. But then there’s an argument for McLaren to buy Cosworth and have them build engines for their roadcars?
Indian GP: If you want to understand F1’s place in the sporting heart of India, check out IndiaToday.in – there are the usual tabs for News, Business, Lifestyle…. and then there is one for “Cricket”, followed by another for “Sport”. The Times of India has its on F1 section on the tabs called “Racing” – Mmm. They have a feature on Monisha Kaltenborn, the first woman team principle, born in Dehradun – India (The Times of India) Also is a driver profile on the ‘Kart’ as we like to call him – “The fastest Indian in the world’ and the first in F1, Karthikeyan made his debut with Jordan in 2005. Returned to F1 with HRT. Racing at the 2011 Indian Grand Prix. The Economic Times runs with the story that “Boost ties up with McLaren for Indian Grand Prix“. As part of the GlaxoSK-McLaren association, the Boost brand logo will run on both cars during the race and the chocolate flavoured health drink will be available for the team throughout the race weekend. Jayant Singh, Marketing Head says, “Boost is excited to partner with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for the Indian leg of the Grand Prix, providing the team with sports nutrition to ensure they are in peak physical condition for the race”. Jayant we love your optimism, but the Boost McLaren need is more like ROCKET FUEL.
McLaren: The title of McLaren ‘top dog’ is seriously up for grabs. F1fanatic have a great article about this and since Jenson joined McLaren in 2010, he and Lewis have raced together in 54 GP. They have both had 4 DNF’s due to technical failure and the gap between them is a mere 5 pts. Jenson 615 pts – Lewis 620 pts. Not bad for Jenson’s kudos considering everyone thought he was going to struggle joining a team moulded around Lewis but maybe it says more about Lewis not delivering (F1fanatic.co.uk).
Indycar: Have a delegation at the moment in Italy looking to bring a race to Europe. Having said goodbye to racing in Japan 2011, the only race outside of North America now is in Brazil. The Italian tracks under consideration are Mugello, Imola and Vallalunga. (Autosprint). Both Imola and Mugello host MotoGP events. I went to F1 testing in Mugello this year and it is a fabulous track in a truly amazing setting. The corner at the end of the back straight is like Eua Rouge in reverse and is similar in altitude change (about 40m drop). The only issues are run off areas and width of circuit; whilst Webber said he enjoyed his 12 laps (one morning) in Mugello more than “1000 laps in Abu Dhabi” the track is old style and ending up in the gravel run off areas means the end of your race. Dates of either late July or mid September are being considered but it may make sense to back to back any Indy Car race with F1 in Monza. The passion for 4 wheel racing will still be high and Italy also has a huge 2 wheel fan base.
LAUDA WATCH: Sorry folks its back and this story may explain a lot. Nikki Lauda told a court today how Michael Seidl and his Money Service Group (MSG) swindled him out of 500,000 euros. Seidl is accused of persuading 44 of the rich and famous in the German-speaking world Austria to invest 70m Euros in his pyramid scheme. Those paraded as sponsors of this charade and used to entice investors like Lauda were the Sauber F1 team, the Swiss Football Association amongst others. Behind the scheme which attracted 70m Euros of investment, auditors of MSG found assets worth only 200,000 Euros including cigars, fine wine and jewellery. 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. (Austrian Times).
(I need a new line) What to say? I’m almost lost for words. First, no wonder Lauda needs a job. Second, with all that pent-up anger who will be punched at Mercedes F1 if they cross Niki. Third, the shrewd board of Daimler Benz has appointed this man to uncover profligate waste and use all his business acumen to guide Mercedes AMG F1 to success. Shades of Jaguar methinks.
Ferrari: 19:15 GMT: Just released this explanation for retaining Felipe. “The decision to extend the agreement with Felipe Massa for another season was carefully weighed up and not just the obvious one. Nor was it inevitable because of the lack of alternatives, nor was it in any way guided by the wishes of his current team-mate, because Ferrari alone chooses its drivers” (Ferrari.com) The Godfather stamps his authority over Alonso, once again. Remember a couple of weeks ago at the Paris Motor Show when questioned about Alonso’s public backing for Massa 2013, the Padrino stated, “But first Fernando should win the world title and then we will certainly not put anyone alongside him who would bother him”. Why do Ferrari need to issue an explanation over retaining Massa? We all understand why.
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