FIA meeting today: Press release 18:05 GMT – “During a constructive meeting, Jean Todt, the FIA President, in co-operation with Bernie Ecclestone, the Commercial Rights Holder, has presented to all F1 Team Principals the new structure of governance, including the new conditions of entry for the Concorde Agreement, starting in 2013. All the participants in the meeting were encouraged to seek clarification which resulted in a fruitful and helpful debate on how the new structure would operate in 2013 and beyond. A further important step has been achieved today to secure the future of the F1 World Championship which should lead to a final settlement to be reached between the FIA, the Commercial Rights Holder and the Teams in the coming weeks. (FIA.com)
On the agenda. The FIA is insisting on only 6 teams, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, Williams and Lotus to be part of the F1 Commision going forward. There were clarifications requested by the teams on the definition of customer cars and particularly the provision of 2014 engines. Renault has refused to increase the number of customers it supplies engines and with Cosworth up for sale this leaves Marrusia and HRT possibly without engines. Renault are objecting to the lack of competitiveness of these teams car designs, saying it is bad for their brand. A solution mooted is for them to buy a customer car from a larger team and then have an engine supplied.
However, I’m led to believe all was not harmonious today particularly on the matter of entry fee’s. The FIA needs better funding and has proposed the teams pay a sliding scale entry fee to facilitate this. It would mean for example, Red Bull would go from the current 350,000 euros to over 3.5m euros. The commercial rights holders Ecclestone/CVC and partners were also asked to raise their contribution from 1.5m to 7m euros. The entry date for the 2013 expires on 30th October and the teams are saying they will not give in. Amusingly the phrase ‘especially in these times’ was used by the commerical rights holder as part of their objection.
So once again Concorde will go down to the wire.
Indian GP promoters expect the circuit to be half full: A combination of 1st year excitement which saw around 95,000 people watch Vettel take the chequered flag at the inaugural Indian GP together with traffic woes getting from New Dehli to the track are leading race promoters Jaypee Sports International to conclude they may only have 55-60,000 in attendance come Sunday. Further, apparently ‘style’ is important to Delhiites who are a brand conscious people and last year the BIC was the place to be – but apparently not so much so this year. This together with the ‘Kart’ being the only Indian driver and his 2012 woes have seen him regularly start at the back (unless others have penalties) and then struggle to compete even with his team-mate. (Times of India)
Melbourne rattle sabres at Ecclestone: Funny isn’t it how the ebbs and flow of power go in F1. Even Ecclestone has the odd moment of weakness last year for example, the promoters of the race in Spa, Belgium were saying they couldn’t afford to continue paying for F1 but they really dropped onto a sweetheart 3 year extended deal until 2014. They caught Bernie in a rare moment of weakness when Nurbugring was going bust, the French were electing a new President and refusing to pay for F1, Singapore were rumbling with discontent and Barcelona and Valencia were insisting on alternating each year. Following the announcement of the postponement of the NY race next year, the Baillieu government of Victoria has categorically ruled out turning the Australian Grand Prix into a night race in order to secure the event when the contract expires in 2015.
Bernie Ecclestone has previously said the Melbourne grand prix was the ”least viable” of all the F1 races and could be scratched from the calendar unless a night race was introduced, to make it more suitable for European audiences. Yet the Sports minister has affirmed today that incremental cost of setting up and running the lighting required is an additional cost they are not prepared to take on as this years race alone cost the regional taxpayers around $57m. It is thought around $25m of the cost of the event is spent in setting up the circuit and then dismantling it each year. (theage.com.au)
Force India: It appears that the team and F1 are being targeted by the disgruntled employees of Kingfisher Airlines at this weeks Indian GP. Employees have been on strike for most of the month following not being paid since March. Police have reported the suicide of one staff member’s wife because of the financial ruin they have faced and this led to violent confrontation 2 weeks ago. This weekend, the airline’s license to fly was withdrawn until the authorities are satisfied there is a sustainable business plan for the company following last weeks sale of a share in the Kingfisher group to Diageo. Yet it is not clear how the losses of $1.8bn plus other debts of around a further $3bn can be met by the airline, and most business commentators expect Kingfisher Airlines will fold. (Hindustan Times) Whether the protest will be peaceful or not has yet to be confirmed but at least Mallya can return home following the payment of outstanding airport dues and the cancellation of the warrant for his arrest. Kingfisher Airlines shares were today down 5% following the withdrawal of their license to fly. (thejudge13 article Force India: How the tower of cards will collapse)
COTA: Officially opened Sunday afternoon. Here’s hot of the press footage of 1st lap of the Circuit of the Americas with Mario Andretti in a historic Lotus. Track was given the highest rating by the FIA and Patrick Dempsey who races cars as well as being a film star also does a number of laps. (YouTube)
Qatar and F1: Something close to thejudge13’s heart as we have for a number of years attended F1 testing in Jerez, Valencia, Barcelona and this year Mugello too. It’s a great opportunity to get close to the team personnel and find out their opinions. They are much more relaxed than at race weekends and often are working 12 hour on – 12 hour off shifts so they are in the Hotel bar for a few hours before catching some kip. 2 years ago, the testing schedule had been given a substantial change with Valencia, Jerez, Barcelona and then Bahrain for the first time – to host pre-season testing the week before the Bahrain season opening race. Of course that event and the testing was cancelled and Barcelona at the last minute was available for the final pre-season testing.
Qatar out of the blue is being touted as a venue for 2013 pre-season F1 testing. (Motorsport) Thejudge13 thinks this is highly unlikely as any circuit wishing to hold an F1 session must be graded by the FIA as a level 1 and this decision will not be made prior to a meeting in December. Qatar has hosted rounds of the MotoGP since opening in 2004 and not only believes it could host F1 testing, but has ambitions to become an F1 race weekend venue in its own right.
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