American Pensioners buy 9% of F1, German GP Highly doubtful, FIA sack American chief doctor, FOTA forum a JOKE! T Rosso ditch Ferrari, SKY to replace FOM TV, Unser racing family dynasty born

thejudge13 readers: The power of the internet is amazing, and it has been 9 weeks today since the site first said Hello to the world, they sad day following the death of Sir Sid Watkins. In that time we’ve had visits from 121 countries including places you would never think have even heard of F1 like Bhutan, The Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Swaziland and Nepal. Yesterday we had our 40,000th visit –  which I find staggering. Thank you all for supporting the effort that goes into producing this site.

Just to let you know a little about how the blog software I used works, it shows me every location (by country) from where people click on the site – but it gives me NO personal information at all. Even if you register for the email notification when a new article is published, I can’t access the list of people or emails inside the widget that manages this for me.

If you do leave a comment you are asked for an email address, however there is no way of knowing whether this is valid or not – and I can assure you there will be no junk mail sent out from thejudge13. So today I’m saying Hi to the people who will visit from Mauritius (I truly wish I were with you today as its cold and wet in the UK  😎  )  – if you want to just say hello back, please leave a comment at the bottom.

Over the winter there may not be thejudge13 articles every day, and I know many of you land on the home page each day when you visit. This is because thejudge13 is saved in your web browser as a favourite or you just type in http://www.thejudge13 into the URL. To save you clicking and typing each day when nothing is happening, why not register for the email service on the right hand side bar of the page at the top (max 2 articles a day) – or follow @thejudge13 on twitter (again click on the right blue twitter button).

On with the news…

Texas teachers invest in F1: Wow, if we’d not been racing in Texas I would have never found this – maybe y’all saw it a couple of weeks ago and I was sleeping – anyway, “Formula One racing has received a $200m investment from the ‘Teachers Retirement System of Texas’. The largest public retirement system in the state invested the capital alongside Delta Topco Ltd., a holding company for Formula One Group”, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

The Austin Business Journal adds to this stating that according to analysts Formula One is valued at nearly $7 billion and the he investment by TRS represents 0.18 percent of its portfolio, which is valued at $113 billion. So hardly risking one’s shirt then – more of a flutter. 4 days earlier, the ‘Canada Pension Plan’ announced it was investing $400 million in Formula One. That’s 9% of F1 owned by the Pensioner’s of North America. Wow.

Has anyone told them of Bernie’s impending court case in Germany where the rights to F1 may be revoked by the FIA due to fraudulent trading by Ecclestone and CVC? Oh well, F1 cements its relationship with North America in many and colourful ways I suppose.

I’m very seriously genuinely highly and extremely shocked by this news! I keep thinking it must be a hoax – I’ll keep checking and let you know.

Why the pit garages in Austin are small: I have puzzled over this since I heard this would be the case a couple of months ago. My experience is that in the US everything is bigger – mostly because there is a lot more land to build upon. Build costs per sq metre are cheaper than in Europe – so why are the pit garages so small.

It appears there was some confusion between the design firm of Tilke and the main contractor. The designs were in metres and they were built out in feet. I’m still rubbish at converting the 2, but I’m reliably informed this means they are approx 10% smaller than intended. Ooops.

F1 calendar: Here we go again…. As I predicted the noises about a French GP have died down, as Magney Cours and Paul Ricard do not have the cash. Further, the date penciled in between Canada and Silverstone is on the same day as Le Mans. F1/Le Mans – en France – same day???

Anyway on to Germany. Nurburgring is bankrupt and German motorsport officials and local senior representatives of the local authorities believe there is no chance of it taking its regular alternating place with Hockenheim this year. The last time I reported on this, Mr. E was saying “If not Nurburgring, then we go to Hockenheim”. The 2 circuits alternate because they make losses and rely on local funding to break even.

Dieter Gummer representing the Hockenheim circuit says the uncertainty over where the German GP 2013 will be is in fact excaserbating the funding issue. Apparently they pre-sell a lot of tickets at this time of year for the following years race – ticket’s for the race are expensive and are often bought around now with people acquiring them as Christmas presents.

Gummer talking to Motorsport-total claims he has had no conversations with Ecclestone about hosting the race, and were they to take it on there are “serious negotiations” required. In other words, FOM would have to drop most if not all of the $50m hosting fee to make it feasible.

With New York postponed, this is again not good for Bernie and his crew who look to maximise and increase the F1 revenues year on year as they try to sell on the shares at even more of a profit. Could we be facing 18 races in 2013 and is the F1 supremo losing his grip?

F1 to get a new chief doctor: The FIA and FOM have been known not to be the best in terms of timing of certain issues, and to sack their medical delegate, American Gary Hartstein the week of the inaugural Austin GP is clearly not good PR.

Whilst following my twitter timeline last night I read the following from Gary. “Have just been informed that president of the FIA and president of FIA medical commission have decided not to renew my Formula 1 contract,” he wrote.

“Not sure about the “whys” of the decision, but not down to me to know. Brazil will therefore be my 247th and last Formula 1 Grand Prix. It’s been a life changing experience and something I’ll never forget.”

Gary succeeded the legendary Sid Watkins as chief F1 doctor who died in September this year. As well as his efforts at the tracks, the American also played a key role in developing new medical safety policies for the governing body through his work as chair of the FIA Institute’s Medical Training Working Group.

An FIA spokesperson said on Wednesday that no decision had been taken on who will replace Hartstein, and there was no formal explanation as to why Hartstein’s contract was not being extended.

Who will broadcast the world feed? I did a piece on the way we receive our TV pictures back in September in, “Why F1 TV is missing so much action“. Broadly, everyone in the world now gets the same pictures during the race and qualifying and its called ‘the world feed’. In 2011 Fuji TV were the last company to produce their nation’s home race as now all the direction decisions are made by FOM TV.

The Times reports today that Murdoch’s SKY empire are in serious negotiations with FOM to assume the role of F1 TV pictures provider from FOM’s own company. As if by chance I saw on twitter a couple of weeks ago that James Murdoch was seen regularly buzzing around in Abu Dhabi from meeting to meeting.

Barney Francis, Managing Director of SKY – who now are the only UK company broadcasting F1 live at every race weekend – is in Austin and the newspaper tells us, “He wants to introduce 3D to Formula 1 and will have talks with Bernie Eccclestone”. This could be a great lever for SKY as the current FOM setup is not capable of such a production whereas SKY already produce a number of sporting events in the 3D format.

Francis is confident they can deliver the quality and even improve it, “Would we take it on and do it? We would challenge ourselves to do any sports production. We would love to do it, 3D would look sensational for Formula One”. As though he’s suddenly smacked with a dose of political correctness he adds, “It is a hypothetical question and would need FOM to suggest they don’t want to do it any longer.”

The very reasons why FOM TV came into being may be the one that causes its demise. Bernie argued well that specialist equipment and skills can be gathered together and transported across the world to deliver a more consistent experience for the TV viewers. This of course was far preferable than relying on the differing TV technologies in each country  and better than allowing some local country host director to focus the world feed on a local driver trailing around at the back of the field.

3D is something FOM TV know nothing about, and to scale up to provide this for 20 race weekends a year may be a price to high to pay. SKY already have technical people and the equipment fully conversant with all the new issues 3D brings. Their learning curve over production matters and the camera angles that best provide the action to the TV screen would be much smaller than FOM TV trying to get to grips with 3D.

SKY journalism: Having almost praised SKY for their ability to produce world-class pictures, innovative camera angles and a team that rarely misses the sporting action they are televising, their journalism leaves much to be desired. They have an “exclusive” on their site with Jenson trailed, “Jenson expects the 2013 McLaren to suit him better than this year”.

What then follows is utter drivel and public knowledge. Jenson says this years car was quick, but inconsistent. Jenson will score fewer points this year than in his first 2 at McLaren. Jenson reckons McLaren have the best driver simulator so their drivers should understand the new Austin track better than others. The car is quick (sorry we did that already, SKY didn’t notice). Jenson says the car will suit him more next year. – WHY???????

Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero (with a short ‘e’ not an ‘eeee’) – any other cool words from around the world for ‘nothing’ please leave below.

Well I can tell you why Jenson will do better next year and I’ve not interviewed him. The 2013 cars are a more continuous development of this years cars the extra tenths will be harder to find as many of the big wins will have happened this year. This will suit teams with bigger budgets like RB, McLaren and Ferrari who could easily put clear air between themselves and Mercedes and Lotus. Further if there are compromises around which driver McLaren should design the car more towards, it will be Jenson not Sergio.

Thirdly, statistically Jenson only has 1 25% chance next year of his worst year for McLaren (1 year out of 4 in the team) – this year it was 33%.

FOTA fans forum: A rule in business is don’t put your name to something unless it represents well what you stand for. Having watched he shambles that was the FOTA fans forum live on the internet maybe it explains the very nature of FOTA.

Considering this is the organisation that represents the cutting edge of motor sport prototype manufacturing in the world you would think it would be fairly simple to ensure those present could hear what the panel members were saying.

We started with small clip on shirt type microphones and they were either silent or ear blisteringly loud and there was constant feedback (whistling) throughout the 90 minute event.

Even when we then went to hand held radio microphones either the batteries were dead or they were switched off. Poor Will Buxton had to introduce the second round of guests without any voice amplification at all.

When you go to all this effort to stage an event like this, simple things can make the event far better. Questions from the floor without prior knowledge as to their nature are always in danger of being a those which asking the obvious or the inane. It’s not difficult to get people to submit their questions in advance and select the most penetrative and demanding ones for the panel.

It just came across like a load of people having a chat, and when the clock is running it’s not really good enough. This will be my abiding memory of the first FOTA public event I watched. A JOKE!

Press Conferences: Better late than never, FIA just released the details

Thursday, November 15 1100 hrs Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
Pedro de la Rosa (HRT)
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Sergio Perez (Sauber)
Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
Friday, November 16 1500 hrs Cyril Abiteboul (Caterham)
Eric Boullier (Lotus)
Norbert Haug (Mercedes)
Christian Horner (Red Bull)
Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari)
Martin Whitmarsh (McLaren)

Torro Rosso switch to Renault: One of the things that makes a daily blog possible for a sporting series which only has 20 events a year, is the ever changing goalposts. I reported about a month ago that Renault were refusing to supply more than 4 teams with engines in 2014, said the chief of motorsport (who interestingly stepped down last week).

This was at the time Cosworth announced they were up for sale and there were a number of discussions over who would be supplying the new V6 turbo engines. Jean-Francois Caubet explained that it was damaging to the Renault brand to be supplying the likes of HRT (needn’t worry about that now I guess) and Marussia to trail around at the back.

Anyway, head of motorsport gone, Auto Motor und Sport reports with Torro Rosso ditching Ferrari, Renault will have 5 teams signed for 2014 – not the maximum 4 they stated would be possible. I suggested at the time by limiting themselves to 4 teams they were missing opportunities to offset the R&D on the new engine development. It appears economics has finally dawned upon the French manufacturer.

If you’re interested the prices at the moment are roughly as follows. Current engine plus KERS (which is a bolt on energy recovery system) whilst differing from manufacturer to manufacturer is up to 8m euros a year. Due to the 90m plus euros each manufacturer has invested in the new engine programmes, it is believed that for 2014 the price per team for power trains each year will be a staggering 21m euro’s. Not much comfort but the KERS equivalent will be built into the engine.

This makes sense for Torro Rosso as by having the same engine supplier as big brother RB, there will be a standardisation of certain parts at the rear of the car across the 2 teams. For example TR builds its own transmission at present, this will then not be necessary.

The problem looming for Ferrari or Mercedes is 5 down 7 (less HRT) to go at means they may only be able to supply engines to 2-3 teams in total – again this hurts the economics of the engine supplier as they have less room to spread out costs. The rumour is that Ferrari are trying to steal Force India from Mercedes and this may be one of the reasons Force India have held off appointing a driver for the vacant 2013 seat.

I did suggest last week that teams in the position of Force India can move quickly to secure the best driver available having already got a vacant seat and a driver in Di Resta who will do a decent job for them. It could be that they are waiting to see what incentives they can get from an engine manufacturer before committing to anything driver wise that may reduce their bargaining power.

Kaltenborn says Kamui employed for skill not money: Mmm. I smell a rat, but I’ll explain why later. The CEO of Sauber tells the Press Association today that Kimui is under no pressure to find a sponsor to retain his seat at Sauber for 2013. He was and still is employed for his driving skills, Monisha claims and “If he has a sponsor then fine, but if not it is no problem”.

“We will not only look at the final two races and then judge whether he is good or bad, ” and it is not “whether he has collected plus or minus points.” Monisha asserts they will base their decision on the experiences of the past three years with Kobayashi noting, “He has demonstrated his talent”.

So why are you not telling us now that Miki has a seat for 2013. If he has demonstrated his talent as suggested, look at the confidence Massa showed after Ferrari confirmed his seat for 2013 – surely by doing the same, Kimui would feel similarly.

I’m guessing Monisha does not want to pressure Kobayashi, who can be hotheaded actions as its launch accident in South Korea, yet neither does she want to demotivate informing him he’s out at the season’s end because there is still a prize the Sauber chief clearly has her eye on. “You never know what happens, and particularly Sao Paulo can throw up surprises” and when asked about overtaking Mercedes in the WCC she confidently asserts, I am confident that we can still fight for this position.”

On this day in F1, Nov 15th:

2004 – Birth of Red Bull
The Ford Motor Company confirmed Red Bull as the new owner of Jaguar Racing with Tony Purnell staying on with the team to run operations. Ford also announced the Cosworth engine company would be sold to Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe, Champ Car team owners and co-owners of the Champ Car Series. “We are strongly committed to continuing the great F1 tradition at Cosworth and take that very successful heritage into the future,” said Kalkhoven.

1932 – Birth of a US racing family dynasty
Jerry Unser was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was the first of the famous family to compete at Indianapolis but in his only start he was caught in a 13-car pileup and flew over the wall at turn three before miraculously emerging unscathed. He was not so fortunate a year later, however, when he was killed in practice for the 1959 race. His brothers Al and Bobby and his nephew Al Jr. won the Indy 500 while son Johnny and nephew Robby also competed in the race. (Pic of Jerry’s car flying over the wall)

1st lap wreck 1958

Pictures from COTA:

Team Lotus at lake Travis (pic), testing the all important lights (pic), fans waiting for the FOTA forum (pic), Caterham lads buying an antelope burger (pic), fans getting close to Caterham (pic), Alonso on set for a Fiat advert (pic), if you qualify at the back (pic), if you’re on pole (pic), from turn 1 (pic) for those who can afford to fly to Austin direct – this awaits (pic), how to refuel a McLaren downtown (pic), a rather famous golden booted olympic champion (pic), media centre could be bigger (pic), who needs to watch from outside? (pic), evening (pic)

(This page will be updated throughout the day – as news comes in)

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17 responses to “American Pensioners buy 9% of F1, German GP Highly doubtful, FIA sack American chief doctor, FOTA forum a JOKE! T Rosso ditch Ferrari, SKY to replace FOM TV, Unser racing family dynasty born

  1. I got here from another blog, really like your stories, added to my daily routine. Keep them coming…. I don’t know about Mauritius, but I can tell you that Minnesota and South Carolina keep coming back here on a daily basis.

      • my stepson graduation in the us army, kept me from going to austin… vacation had a “BIG F1 weekend” on it, until we got the confirmation for the ceremony… when I told him I sacrificed an F1 race for him (and he knows how I watch SkyF1 and BBC coverage on line) he had a big laugh…. well worth it though…

  2. Hi, Just thought I’d do as suggested and say hello. I’m Simon, from Oldham, England. Been watching F1 since the late 80’s and find this blog to be one of the better ones out there, keep up the good work.

  3. Hi Mate …. I’m the one from Mauritius and its…. 32 degrees Celcius outside with bright sunshine 🙂

    • Lol. Very jealous. Can I come and watch an F1 race where you are?

      I think there may be another fan or 2 from Mauritius looking at the number of visits in the past week. Let’s see if they say Hi too.

  4. Well we dont get F1 broadcasted here …. even though its signal is sent thru sat tv they dont have broadcasting rights for Mauritius. I watch it from the net.
    You are the most welcome mate… gimme a ding if one day you get here we can arrange something for you



  5. Delighted, but not surprised at the success of your website. You’re far more interesting & informative than any other site.

  6. your website is highly accurate and informative and its been part of my daily routine since some weeks now…your website is better than the official ones 🙂 keep up the good work… fabulous

  7. I honestly cannot believe you’ve been going on for only 9 weeks. It’s as if you’ve been around for ages. This is an excellent blog. My favourite F1 website!

    On with a comment on the news. If Ferrari want Force India, then why did Hulk move to Ferrari-powered Sauber. People were saying he moved there as a small step towards a Ferrari seat in the future. He could have stayed put to see what happens and then jump ship. Funny world.

    • Think he was worried about Force India and cash – I commented a couple of weeks back he seems pretty bright and is probably well read and informed – unlike many in the F1 bubble. I still think Force India (no cash problems aside) will do better than Sauber next year.

  8. I suspect you mean the contractors mixed up meters and yards, otherwise the garaged would only just be big enough for karts! Even still, I’m surprised it makes that much difference, you’d have thought they’d make them spacious enough that a small error like that wouldn’t have much effect.

    (1m = 39.37 inches, 1 yard = 36 inches, 1 foot = 12 inches)

    • Indeed. Thank you for you’re correction I did say conversions were not my forte. I was brought up pre-decimalisation and still know what a bob is in English money – never sure whether 40 degrees is really hot or nearly freezing 🙂

      Even so if its true -yards/metre, that’s nearly 10% – I suspect some urban myth at work – but it is strange – particularly in Texas.

  9. I always thought FOM could and should do a much better job. It always seems like the director is some guy who loves fancy camera work and nice views and forgets that the standard F1 fan just wants to follow the race story every moment in the best possible way.

    Apart from the directing, one of the many things they do that is bizarre is the 1stop 2stop along the screen instead of timing info for a couple of laps and is not great if your watching delayed and have no timing. But lets have anybody but Sky take it over please.

    Buxton without a mic sounds good to me as he’s probably still raving about Schumacher should retire straight away and give his car to test driver Sam Bird and his continuous drivel about how that’s not a way a 7 time world champion should act. Like that clown would have a clue.

    Unfortunately I’d say Kamui aint going to be at Sauber next year and that is a massive shame.

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