Caterham: Is Gascoyne leaving? NY 2013 – No, maybe.., Lauda unveils Mercedes new ‘concept’ for 2013, DRS zone altered for BIC, Ecclestone gets $400m bill

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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 ( 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.

DRS zone strategy: The FIA have made changes to the Buddh International Circuit DRS zones. As well as having the original zone that runs along the maximum distance of the start-finish straight, there is a second DRS zone that runs from Turn 3 to Turn 4 and this has been extended by 80 metres.

It appears the FIA are getting to grips with DRS zone lengths. The tracks where the racing is less exciting is where they have taken gambles on going long on the zone lengths. The extended zones this year have been predominantly after tight hairpins/very slow corners. (Canada, Valencia, Korea, India), so it could be the first zone in Abu Dhabi is also extended. If this is the case then Austin is also likely to have a fairly extensive zone on the long straight.

On the other hand, the DRS zones that have been reduced or removed all together where they are located on straights preceded by medium speed corners (China, Valencia 2 zone, Monza, Spa – @sato113 F1Fanatic).

Words of wisdom from Kimi: Unfortunately for Kimi he was stitched up by the selection process for this press conference. Being the only world champion (6 racing this year) and the most senior driver, his usual laconic style was  under pressure as local journalists asked him question after question, ignoring the others for much of the time.

To be fair, Kimi did his duty and in fact said more than in all the rest of the press conferences he’s attended this year put together. Here’s a couple of his more succinct moments.

When asked for his thoughts and impressions on his first visit to India, Kimi said “Well I came here last night at 01:00…… so I’ve seen the motorway and the hotel. The hotel….. outside it….. looks nice…… I have no complaints so far.

Asked about any imminent announcements and his options for 2013: “We have options… but nothing is decided…. but I guess it will be decided….at some point”.

Mike Gascoyne: Today see’s the launch of Mike Goscoyne International’s website. It tells us, “MGI is a professional and dynamic engineering consultancy offering high level services to maritime, aviation, automotive and motorsport industries. We view ourselves as partners with our customers, our employees and our environment. Our goal is moderate growth, annual profitability and to maintain our sense of humour.” Goal = Moderate growth eh? ( Nothing like thinking big.

The team is interestingly Mike, his rather delectable misses Silvia and MD Paul Craig – who has another full time job. In the blog’s first entry Mike tells us this is not a new company, it has been active now for 7 years, “Welcome all to the first of my regular blogs but also more importantly welcome to the new MGI website you are reading this on. I set up MGI in 2005 and since then it has been involved in some fantastic projects, not least the first entry and F1 car for Lotus Racing, now Caterham F1…”. The dot dot dot is not me, I think Mike nodded off whilst writing – that’s your lot for blog entry #1.

Gascoyne at present is still ‘Group Chief Technical Officer’ for the Caterham group – surprisingly we learn from MGI this role encompasses, “overall technical responsibility for all Caterham Group activities”. Yet you have to wonder – why now? What is creating the urge after 7 years for MGI to start making itself heard – is an announcement from Caterham on the horizon?

Mike impressively has his own Wikipedia page – which tells us how he worked his way up in F1 until Toyota came knocking and offered him – what many regard as the zenith of Mike’s career – the role of team boss in 2004. With a budget the size of Ferrari and the nigh on unlimited resources offered by a multi-national car company, Toyota had their best ever season in F1 finishing 4th in the constructors table – and with almost half the points of the winning constructor Renault. Hopes were high for a title charge in 2006.

Having scored just 1 point from the opening races, Gascoyne was suspended from Toyota early in the 2006 season. When this was made permanent a, “fundamental difference of opinion with regard to the technical operations” was cited as the cause of the rift.

Anyway since ‘amicably’ leaving Toyota F1 Mike went to Spyker as ‘Chief technical Officer’. Following continuous terrible results, Spyker went bust and sold to Force India. On 7th November 2008, following continuous terrible results, it was announced that “Gascoyne would no longer play any formal role at the team, with Force India owner Vijay Mallya taking full responsibility for running the team”.

In 2009 Gascoyne was part of plans by the Litespeed F3 team to enter Formula One in 2010, under the Team Lotus name. They failed to gain entry. Cleverly Mike pursued the plans and managed to get backing from the Malaysian government to enter a team in 2010 under the Team Lotus brand. Thinking big, Gascoyne announced on October 2009 that he hoped the team could “rival Brawn GP’s debut” as they had won the Constructors’ Championship in their debut season. (Wikipedia)

Hmm. That indeed was thinking big – but Brawn GP had $1bn of Honda spend in their 1st car.. Mike. Anyway maybe MGI has learned a lesson from this… to be more realistic… and this is could be why MGI’s “goal is moderate growth“.

Ecclestone and Bayern LB: The judge13 article “German Indictments imminent for Ecclestone” (link) I outlined a brief history of how Ecclestone was a middle man in selling on the F1 commercial rights to CVC Equity partners who hold the majority of shares at present. At the time of writing (25th Sept) a German newspaper was suggesting the bank who held the shares was going to sue Ecclestone for the 44m euros commission he was paid for finding a buyer. I outlined this amount was rather low and that the bank had also been conned into selling the F1 rights for $4-500m dollars below their value at the time. Today a Munich publication has the story that the bank has decided to pursue Mr. Ecclestone for $400m ( Interestingly, there is apparently a smoking gun in the form of a letter Ecclestone received 5 years ago that may be exactly what the German Prosecutors need to bring the fraud case before a judge.

Reuters reports, Ecclestone was asked about the matter in his hospitality suite at the Indian GP. He said, “They asked our lawyers in Germany. They said could we have 400m back? I did not respond. There is no point is there”.

What I can say is that there is a will amongst certain influential team members for the FIA to scrutinise the whole commercial rights issue should the German courts charge Ecclestone. What does that mean? At one end of the scale this could involve a significantly reduced influence on F1 matters, including the apportionment of money among the teams. The other extreme would be to nullify the present rights due to fraudulent activity under the F1 brand – to say this could be very dramatic would be the understatement of the millennium.

Ecclestone’s legacy is far from written. If it were I guess ‘shrewd but roguish businessman who took F1 global’ may be its flattering tone. Yet if it had not been Ecclestone, someone else would have delivered F1 from the muddy fields and caravans to the palacial hospitality homes of today’s paddock. It most likely would just have been done in a more equitable manner. It is not beyond belief that Ecclestone, for completely different reasons, may yet be seen by history to be the pariah of F1 that Armstrong is to cycling. Only time will tell.

NY 2013: We shouldn’t be surprised I suppose but Bernie Ecclestone did an about turn today. After inferring logistics and red tape were part of the problem with New Jersey and it was officially out of time to confirm for 2013, the Star-Ledger (NJ Newspaper) was told, “In the absence of state support, I think the only way the Grand Prix of America can proceed is if a wealthy backer gets behind it. Red Bull [D. Mateschitz] certainly has the resources to do so and it clearly has an interest in promoting its brand in the area”. It states unquoted, ‘it is  also worth mentioning that Ecclestone told me that if a backer comes on board very soon there is a possibility that the race could take place next year’. I guess with Bernie the old Bond movie title applies – Never say never.

LAUDA WATCH: If Alonso is Ferrari’s rooster then Lord Lauda has a message for Vettel regarding chickens and counting. He told Osterreich newspaper, “At the moment everything is going in Vettel’s favour, but it would be premature to celebrate the World Championship yet. Not long ago Alonso looked like the safe World Champion, but he was shot down twice. It shows how fast things can turn around.” Mixed metaphors methinks – isn’t it geese and grouse that get shot down?

The difference between Vettel and Alonso though is stark. Fernando has been playing the ‘beat my closest rival’ game each weekend since Canada – hardly the sign of someone full of confidence. It’s as though Vettel knows the Red Bull reserve development stash of cash has now kicked in and this will get him over the line.

From the mouth of the Padrino of Mercedes AMG F1, Niki also reveals that unlike every other team in F1, Mercedes is designing a completely new car for 2013 (RTL).  “We are working on a concept for a completely new car. The current one is simply not fast enough.” Okay, there’s an example of being the master of stating the obvious, but I’m not sure Lewis should be delighted or highly concerned.

Designing a whole new concept of car sounds expensive, and Lord Lauda has already stated he has been appointed to reduce wasteful spending and make sure Daimiler-Benz is getting value for money. Maybe a new concept is not required, just an old one – make the car faster.

Schumacher and Switzerland #2: Bilde our favourite German tabloid has been very quite since announcing Liverpool (scouse) spice girl will be the A-list celebrity at the ‘legend of sport’ event being organised in Schumacher’s honour. However, following Michael’s threat to leave Switzerland if they start charging him tax, they have come up with a list of places that he could consider where the tax rate is zero. Of course they are all outside Europe, so just in case Michael is feeling homesick they have discovered Kasachstan would take him for a mere 10% of earnings – still cheaper than a management company or agent!! (Bilde)

Kingfisher: Kingfisher shares were down 4.8 per cent to Rs 10.9 at the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on Monday. Shares have fallen 29 per cent since the airline’s staff went on a strike 1 month ago. The value of the business is now just 40% of the high in the past 12 months, down over 80% of their value in the last 3 years.

The Economic Times comments, “In what could be the final nail in the coffin, aviation minister, Ajit Singh has said that it would be next to impossible for debt ridden Kingfisher Airlines to carry out full-fledged operations”. The statement from the minister comes after Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) cancelled the license of the airline which has grounded its fleet since October 1 after its employees went on strike demanding salaries.

The normally publicity hungry Mallya is not scheduled to appear at the FIA teams press conference organised in his home country. Bob Fearnley, the teams technical director, is also not appearing for fear of the deluge of press questions over the future of the F1 team Force India (Economic Times). Considering owning an F1 team is often about publicity, it is interesting that no members of Sahara who own 42.5% of the team are available for comment either. (Force India: How the tower of cards will collapse).

11:16 GMT: Some good news for Vijay; subject to getting 1 months pay immediately for work done in April, pilots and engineers have agreed to return to work. They will get April’s salary in the next 7 days and May’s wages are to be paid a further 3 weeks later. Yet the airline cannot resume flights until the persuade the Director General of Cival Aviation that there is a ‘sound plan’ in place. (profit.ndtc) This will include paying airports for landing fee’s and fuel – together with paying for staff and all this requires a lot of cash. Amber Dubey, director and specialist in aerospace and defence at KPMG India believes, “Kingfisher’s ability to bounce back from this situation appears challenging”. Accountants are not known for the use of the hyperbole.

Conflicting reports from the Economic Times suggest Mallya is concerned his personal jet will be impounded when he returns to India. He still owes the Airport Authority $22m in unpaid dues and they confirm they received an enquiry from Kingfisher to see if they intend to seize assets yet.  In this publication, S C Misra, a Delhi based engineer spearheading the agitation of the employees says, “The management is promising us three months’ pay by Diwali to get us back to work. We want four months’ salary to be paid by 6 pm on Friday. If that does not happen we will chart the future course of action on Saturday . There will be peaceful protests at the F1 venue by unpaid Kingfisher employees” (Economic Times).

Sorry I have to smile – in fact I’m laughing quite a lot…how did that enquiry to the Airport Authority of India go?…picture this,

Vijay representative to the director of AAI : “Hi there, I know we’ve owed you $22m for some time but can you tell me if you’re intending to impound Vijay’s private jet if he brings it to India this weekend?”

Response option 1: (Innocently) “No”, then the light goes on and thinks to himself, ‘sounds like a jolly good idea though’.

Response option 2: (Honestly but stupidly) “Yes”, then immediately realising that now they won’t be able to carry out the plan because the jet will not now come.

Response option 3: (With a cunning smile) “Of course not, wouldn’t think of it old chap. Just ask Vijay if he can pay a couple of mill off the bill though please”

(This page will update throughout the day with more stories – check back later)

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4 responses to “Caterham: Is Gascoyne leaving? NY 2013 – No, maybe.., Lauda unveils Mercedes new ‘concept’ for 2013, DRS zone altered for BIC, Ecclestone gets $400m bill

  1. Well that depends. How about we just change F1 to Red Bull F1. They sponsor it own it race in it and win it……… I feel another Ferrari-esque dominance coming here.

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