Austin will favour Red Bull, Mercedes should’ve kept Schumy not Nico, FOM wants USA GP2, McLaren supply to Force India ends, Huge Brawl, How Maldonado finds an extra 1s per lap,

Note from the editor: Sorry folks, had a couple of days off – anyway we’re back. I notice quite a lot of you must have thejudge13 saved in your internet browser as a favourite and use this as the way of coming to the site. Over the Winter there may not be an article every day, so if you sign up for the email service (side bar on right at the top), you’ll get an email when thejudge13 has published an article/news AND only then. Anyway some news catchup. . .

Mallya sells, implications for Force India: Shares in United Spirits soared this morning 14 per cent to hit its new 52-week high after Uk-based firm Diageo Plc said that it will acquire 53.4 per cent stake in United Spirits for around $2bn. Vijay, will remain as chairman, however the real power is transferred to Diageo representatives who will take on the roles of CFO and CEO (Economic Times).

This sounds like good news, yet industry experts reckon it will cost no less than $1bn to get Kingfisher airlines back in the sky’s and Vijay has until 30th November to satisfy the Indian Aviation Authorities that the Kingfisher Airlines new business plan is sound – and clear the debts.

Yet for Force India, time is running out. It has an arrangement with McLaren for the supply of gearboxes and hydraulic systems, and the deal concludes at the end of this year. This may sound a relatively small part of the car, but it is integral to the design and performance as much as the engine.

There has been no announcement of an extension to the arrangement between Force India and McLaren, which is a little strange as the 2013 car will be very similar to the car of 2012 – to change these components to some provided by another would be suicidal. Maybe McLaren want to see the colour of Vijay’s money first. I am convinced by people who know far more than I do that Hulkenberg jumped ship to Sauber because he had concerns about the survival of the team.

Diageo, as I’ve mentioned before, are a sponsor of McLaren through the Johnny Walker brand and of course Whyte and MacKay are a United Spirits company who sponsor Force India. So what will happen? I suggest 2 possible outcomes. The preferred brand, Johnny Walker will be retained and the Force India will cease receiving sponsorship – or secondly, Diageo may see the opportunity to penetrate different markets.

India, unlike China, is still predominantly closed to foreign company’s and has massive import duties on international brands. Yet India is set to quickly become the world’s second largest consumer market behind only the USA – China is further away at this time.  By continuing with the White & Mackay brand, Diageo can piggy back the new interest in F1 in India to promote this brand from inside the country – avoiding huge import duty.

Finally, no news on Sahara yet. As I reported they have been instructed to pay Indian Securities and Exchange Board $4.4bn plus 15% interest to reimburse investors fraudulently entrapped. This must be done by November 15th and again as thejudge13 suggested, rasing cash via small investors the way Sahara did suggests desperation. 3 days to go. watch this space.

It still could be Force India are looking for a new owner/investor – but everything is up in the air for the team right at this moment.

Austin favours Red Bull: Alonso said on twitter he had put in 200 laps on the new COTA circuit over the weekend, and he needs to because analysts suggest the circuit will favour the strengths of the Red Bull car. Sectors 1 and 3 look to especially favour Red Bull; Sector 1 is like the Magotts/Beckets sequence at Silverstone, while in the final sector the RB8 will devour the long triple apex Turn 17.

Apart from that corner, the rest of Sector 3 has similarities to Korea and parts of Abu Dhabi, where the McLaren was very fast in Lewis Hamilton’s hands, but the overall impression is that the race is Sebastian Vettel’s to lose, unless Ferrari have come up with a silver bullet in development terms. (James Allen)

Vettel tempts fate in Austin: When asked by Formula1.com, “Sebastian, the race in Austin this weekend will be your one hundredth Grand Prix. How would you sum up your Formula One career so far?”, Vettel replied, “It’s all gone so quickly. One hundred is a big number – one hundred Grands Prix sounds a lot: one hundred starts, one hundred times surviving the first corner. If I reflect on it, it doesn’t feel so long ago that I broke into Formula One. That shows me that time flies when you do something that you really like and enjoy. So let’s focus on the second hundred! (laughs)”.

So actually its 99 times around the first corner sucessfuly – this will be the 100th test of that matter. Has no one told Seb about testing fate?

FOM considers USA GP2: Apparently they tell us this will drive popularity of the sport in the United States which this weekend hosts its first Grand Prix for five years. Company documents show that it has the working title of the ‘Americas Series’ and, if given the green light, will feature races in the United States, Canada and Brazil. The aim is to stimulate the development of grass roots motor sports in these countries and generate publicity for F1 so that it eventually attracts more local drivers.

A regional variant of GP2 has been attempted before with little success. A GP2 Asia winter series was launched in 2008 but its last season was in 2011 when it only held four races with two of them taking place at Imola in Italy. Although teams were encouraged to run local drivers, many still chose Europeans or South Americans instead despite restrictions on the number of points they could score.

Since GP2 launched in 2005 it has been a major success story in producing F1 talent, with former champions including Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean. The series was acquired by F1’s parent company, the F1 Group, in 2007 and three years later it launched GP3 to provide upcoming drivers with another clear step on the ladder to F1.

The real reason comes next: GP2 and GP3 generated $44.8m in revenues last year. This represents around 2.9% of the F1 Group’s total revenue and it was made up from the sale of cars and parts to the participating teams, plus promotion and advertising fees and maintenance services.

Junior series have not worked well to raise profile of F1 in regions where there is no history of junior single-seater racing. The US is different, it has a rich motor racing heritage, and so junior formula leading to F1 are irrelevant – it is the interest in F1 itself that needs to create excitement.

This is a money-making exercise for the coffers of F1 and has nothing to do with developing the profile of the leading Formula category racing brand.

NASCAR Brawl: thejudge13 reported last week that there were NASCAR senior officials who commented prior to the inaugural Austin GP that F1 would not appeal to the USA audience. Maybe Bernie needs to promote a bit more of this.

I love the way there are several camera’s along the route of the guy who jumps out of his car and runs flat out to confront his competitor – 1 camera guy could never have kept up – almost scripted 🙂

Maldonado qualifying technique: James Allen has a short article on this today. It’s interesting that while the Venzualian’s team-mate Bruno Senna has only made Q3 once in 18 attempts, Maldonado has reached the top 10 on 11 occasions, burnishing his reputation as a one-lap specialist by starting inside the front two rows four times.

The most noticeable thing about his two most recent top-four starts, in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, was his lap-time improvement between Q2 and Q3:  the Venezuelan finding the best part of seven and eight tenths in the final shootout at the two events respectively despite falling temperatures on both occasions.

He claims this nearly a second a lap improvement for the final part of qualifying is down to mental focus, “I try to put everything together in qualy three and that’s why I often go to the top three, top five, because I try to get more than 100% from the myself, from the car, from the people around me. Qualy is very important because if you put the car in the top five the weekend changes completely.”

Mercedes: Schumacher or Rosberg? thejudge13 poll on whether Schumacher should retire now stands at an incredible 84% No and only 16% yes. (“Schumacher retires – really?“) A Swiss motor sport magazine are reporting today that Jaques Villenueve is questioning Mercedes decisions over its 2013 driver line up.

“Why is he stopping?” the canadian told told Switzerland’s Motorsport Aktuell. “I don’t understand. Hamilton-Schumacher would be much better than what they do have for next year,” the outspoken Villeneuve insisted.

Schumacher really struggled with the off throttle exhaust blowing the cars used in the first 2 years or his comeback. The driving technique required was quite different from the normal styles used over the years by F1 racing drivers. Kimi on the other hand hasn’t been required to learn this driving methodology as the rules have now banned this strange engine configuration.

For all his 43 years, Michael has been more than a match for Nico this year, He has an average qualifying time 0.162 closer to the pole time than Nico. The big problem for Mercedes is that both cars have only finished 8 races together. In these races Michael was ahead of Rosberg in 6.

Mercedes are clearly still in big development mode as they are struggling to compete at present with the Torro Rosso cars and with Lewis having little experience of developing a car that is so poor, surely Michael’s years of knowledge would be better utilised by the German team than Rosberg’s.

Austin worried about rain: thejudge13 reported last week the chaos that ensued on the road to COTA following a morning of fog, and 5,000 people arriving to participate in a fun run around the track. US Metoerologists are suggesting whilst Friday will be dry there may be rain for Saturday and Sunday – and there will be 25 times as many people in attendance.

The last time a world-class motor sport facility debuted in the state of Texas, 15 years ago, rain turned the area around Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth into Carmaggedon for 200,000 spectators. Transportation was so snarled that some fans trudged for miles on two-lane country roads and through muddy fields where cars were trapped waiting, sometimes days, for a tow.

The COTA has 17,000 on-site parking spots, the majority of which are grass or gravel. Austin Racetrack Partners recently purchased 30 acres next to the racetrack but Wally Scott of Austin Racetrack Partners today “if it rains, we’re dead in the water,” said Scott (statesman.com).

Now for those of us who will be watching on TV, a good downpour would spice up both qualifying and the race, where the Red Bull cars are predicted to be strong. It’s not for us to worry about the misery of the spectators and Luca Di Montezemolo will be doing whatever the Italian version of a rain dance is like crazy.

HRT fo Sale: This is not really news, because HRT have been permanently for sale for quite some time. I was talking to a long standing F1 senior individual in Spa this year and they told me then they thought HRT might not make the grid for 2013. The problem for HRT’s owners is they have made some very silly choices and will lose a lot of money.

El confidential reported an hour ago that a significant number of HRT employees have already been issued with conditional date for the termination of their employment.

The team is heavily in debt and they will run out of money by 2nd December. Now it is not the borrowing of money that is particularly silly in F1, it was the belief by the teams owners that they could re-invent the F1 wheel and that a Spanish based team would be of particular incremental interest to anyone, just because it’s Spanish based.

There are reasons why most of the F1 teams are in the UK – even the mighty Damiler-Benz has not relocated their team to Germany. The reasons are similar to why many computer/software business are in Silicon valley California and having a factory in Madrid just makes pretty much everything more expensive to do.

Further, in an industry where the very best skills are in high demand, to offer a location nowhere near where the rest of those skills are employed is utter stupidity.

This is the very problem facing any new owners of HRT, if they have any vague hope of success they will have to relocate the business – which of course has moved once this year. There are a number of F1 teams who have just gone bust without a buyer – selling an F1 team is by no means a given.

Thesan Capital, a Madrid based gambling sorry capital investment fund who bought HRT say they are “convinced that the sporting potential of the team is huge and that the presence of new investors can give it a big boost”. This is a team whose breaks keep failing because they are being run way beyond their designed life span.

Why would you pay some foolish owners of a failed F1 team anything, when you will be able to buy the assets at a knock down price when they fail to make the grid in Australia. The only reason you would do this is for continuity – yet with HRT needing to be relocated to the UK at further cost and what is there of value inside the team?

2013 could be a tricky year for Mr. E, 19 races (as we suggested back in September) and 11 teams. No wonder the ‘float’ has been put back to at least 2014.

COTA sunsets: It appears this year we’ve been able to bring you a number of pictures of sunsets. All the media and team personnel are fascinated with them – so here’s the first from Austin (I suspect some post production fiddling here – PIC)

(This page will be updated throughout the day with news stories as they break)

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2 responses to “Austin will favour Red Bull, Mercedes should’ve kept Schumy not Nico, FOM wants USA GP2, McLaren supply to Force India ends, Huge Brawl, How Maldonado finds an extra 1s per lap,

    • lol. Was quite a bit higher when I wrote the story 12 hours ago.

      Anyway, it appears they are concerned that even a small amount of rain will cause significant problems due to the nature of the ground the circuit has been built on.

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