F1 blows it AGAIN in the USA, Valencia Ferrari World off, Bernie’s German problem, Webber swears by the flag, Williams revert to Barca setup, RB affected most by change in DRS rules

For those of you who got an email yesterday saying “Fri post” I apologise – I hit the publish instead of save button. Was just getting things ready like “On this day” and “pics”  etc for today’s post – still 90 plus postings in and first time I did it.

Anyway good to see so many of you getting ready for Winter when there won’t be an article every day and are signing up for the email alert when there is one (side bar – top right). Anyway here we go for FP1 day in Austin Texas. I’ll get to the point eh?

F1 blow it AGAIN in the USA: The week before every F1 weekend, I start trawling the national and local media looking for how each country is gearing up for the big event. I won’t use Abu Dhabi as an example because its only about 8 miles long by 4 miles wide, but India was the most recent ‘unnatural’ fit of a country where F1 has visited. I say ‘unnatural’ because India is a country of 1bn people all obsessed with cricket.

I found India Today, The Times of India, The Economic times even (like the FT in London), the Hindustan Times, India Express, India Daily – the list goes on and they all had regular, mostly daily and a number of multiple times day F1 stories running. The coverage was highly surprising I have to say but when I compare this to the USA – practically nothing.

The latest article in the New York Times I could find was on 4th November. USA Today has run a few 2-3 paragraph pieces since Abu Dhabi but they are running these for US sports every few minutes – its incredible – like watching a ticker tape feed. I have checked out media in LA, San Fransisco, Boston, Chicago and even Houston – 3rd largest city in the US and in Texas – amongst others and can find hardly any F1 news at all.

I’m also hearing the coverage on national television is about Zero and whilst Austin and to some degree Texas media are producing daily content it is tiny compared to the reporting on the Final NASCAR showdown of the season taking place in Texas on the same day. The Austin race in 2013 is again scheduled to clash with NASCARS big finale. Scheduling is not the commercial rights holder’s strongest skill as he recently suggested a 2013 French GP the week before Silverstone – apparently not realising this was the day of Le Mans.

F1 is known not to spend anything on central marketing as the entire $750m goes into the pockets of Ecclestone and Gambling sorry Investment Bankers. Why have we not seen an F1 car in Times Square pulling donuts with vast clouds of smoke pouring from the tyres – engine screaming at 18,000 revs – that noise alone is unique to F1 and reverberates through anyone’s bones within a few hundred metres.

Late night chat shows and prime TV I hear have been flooded with the great and the good of F1 telling the citizens of the US how passionate they are  about their sport. NOT. Yet all we hear is how important the US market is to F1. It is a fact it is highly important to the F1 manufacturers as more Ferrari’s and Mercedes sports cars are sold there than anywhere else in the world.

However, once again, the 3 headed beast that is F1 cannot focus long enough in 1 place to drive its common interest. The commercial rights holder doesn’t give a stuff about the USA and F1, he has a guaranteed $25m a year from the state of Texas coffers for the next 10 years coming in – whether there is a race in Austin or not.

The FIA is now governed by an insipid little man who doesn’t want to do anything unless everybody agrees to it – #Leadership, and FOTA and the teams are too busy arguing about who gets a seat on the new tripartite working party and how much money they each can get out of Bernie.

I’ve made the same observation for years and I’ll make it again, I know no other sport where the commercial rights holders’ are not either the regulatory authority or a collective of the sports participants representatives. F1 will keep shooting itself in the foot over this and every other matter until this 3 headed beast decides to cut off one of its heads and starts to focus the remaining 2 properly.

If CVC are looking for a replacement for Ecclestone – and I realise they are venture capital vultures who just want to make as much from a flutter as possible for as little effort as can be managed – for their own good they need someone who can persuade them that instead of stealing $750m a year from F1  – they should back some back and develop the sport – which should in turn increase their revenue. No one’s asking them to give it to the Mother Theresa foundation for God’s sake.

About 25% of thejudge13 readers are from the USA and Canada – please leave comments and tell us what you can see in the media and what you think of F1’s supposed to be big and latest coming to America.

Vettel v Alonso Qualifying: Vettel avenge qualifying time is 0.43s off Pole this year. Alonso’s is 0.6s. Vettel average qualifying advantage over Alonso for the year is 0.26s. Post-Monza this rises to nearly 0.5s. What does that tell you all about tomorrow?

Vettel irritated by swearing ban: At the FIA press conference Sebastian said, “Everyone can see what they want on TV as they have the remote control in hand, and if they are sensitive, they can watch children’s programs. I didn’t want to offend anyone, and therefore one should make no big deal out of it too”. Okay Seb, so if I invite you to my party and at your own parties its acceptable to smash up the bathroom – my bathroom gets trashed – but of course I should take no offense because this is normative for you? Maybe Villeneuve is right, saying he needs to grow up.

Webber swears by the flag – literally: Interviews are now started on the podium for the fans at the track and the outspoken @AussieGrit, Webber is not happy. “I certainly wasn’t impressed in Silverstone with 1000 dignitaries up there. I think the podium should be for the drivers, no one else. It is a time of , “celebration for the drivers and what they have achieved. Not having everyone stand in front and having their five minutes [of fame]. That pissed me off.

Webber continues his forthright views, “I think you need proper flags. These electronic flags look like shit. There should be proper flags that blow in the wind.” Having sworn – literally – by the real flags, Mark gives us his thoughts on the new FIA swearing directive, “[swearing] will never go away. It will always never be far away,” he said.

“You are full of adrenaline. You are excited. You have just had an incredible grand prix in general in those cases, so I think sometimes you might not use the right language, but now we have to be mindful of that. It is another part of the weekend where you have to keep an eye on things.”

Don’t ever change Mark

Kubica: In the first interview in English with Robert following the crash, the BBC report he is unable to drive single-seater racing cars due to the “big limitation” of movement to his injured right arm. Doesn’t look good for an F1 return – great shame.

Ferrari World Spain: Seems like some people don’t realise European countries and government are in the worst financial crisis for nearly 100 years. The reason HRT will be sold or closed in a matter of weeks is because a Spanish bank has applied for a bailout, and the terms of it mean disposing of loss making assets.

Apparently the regional government in Valencia was approached over a year ago to consider a Ferrari theme park near the race track (not the F1 street circuit). Talks have broken down because local elected representatives say the proposers of the development are not respecting their wishes – ie that not a cent of public money will be spent on the project.

This was apparently a pre-condition, but after months of intense negotiations the matter is now at an end due to persistent attempts to breach the local authorities red line.

How on earth can it take months of negotiations to keep saying no when the stumbling point is simple and the same – No contribution. Maybe it was a case of “please – No”, “pretty please – No”, “Go on guys, you know it’ll be great – No” (as.com).

The calendar: Why Germany is different. Does anyone know how I can write this heading in my blood? (Deep breath). thejudge13 reported a couple of days ago that the consensus in Germany that the Nurburgring as an F1 venue for 2013 is dead in the water. The reason for this is that the company owning the circuit owed the regional government about 330m euro’s.

This in itself is nothing new, the only races that reportedly break even without public money – I daren’t even suggest a small profit – are Monza and Silverstone. Even in the great land of sink or swim capitalism, the ex-hippie citizens of Austin have signed up for a $290m mortgage over 10 years to Mr. E and the powers of darkness.

Germany alternates between Hockenheim and the Nurburgring, because each of the regional governments refuses to annually line the satin pockets of Mr. E and the Casino that is CVC. I reported this week Hockenheim is saying they have had no negotiations to take on Nurburgring’s responsibility to hold the race this year.

They see the boat as having sailed for them to host Germany GP 2013 (sorry to mix metaphors) as Sankt Nikolaus brings many of the highly expensive F1 tickets on the day of remembrance for the birth of a baby in a stable in Bethlehem.

The reason Ecclestone can be so bullish about asserting that a race ‘in contract’ will occur, is that it is usually public money that has guaranteed the host fee to F1 (payable whether racing occurs or not) and the local or national government providing this will stump up hoping for a trade-off in incremental local economic activity.

Ecclestone is still doing the same deals as ever – he won’t ask for the 10 year fee from McCombs et al in Texas – because they could go bust, make COTA go bust, hide the money under the bed and not pay up. Elected public bodies are different. They have succumbed stupidly to agree $300m for 7-10 years and lose too much face by trying to void the contract.

But – and finally to my point – this time in Germany things are in fact different. There has been a catagoric and absolute and consistent line from the Nurburgring Creditors/Owners (its in Chapter 11/Bankruptcy) and that is “No money for F1 this year”.

Hockenheim cannot be forced to host the race, and are only likely to do so if Bernie waves the hosting fee. So its a new slant on the game for Mr. E. He is still asserting today that “Be sure in 2013 the will be a race in Germany. Somewhere. We want it and will not lose the German GP for sure”. 2 weeks ago Ecclestone told Brundle of SKY, Europe was going to lose another 3 maybe 4 races.

Goodbye to ‘force majeure’: Prior to discovering Vettel’s car was underfueled in Abu Dhabi, the FIA had accepted a ‘force majeure’ argument over potential engine damage and awarded no penalty. The rules for 2013 will be if a car stops on track during qualifying then the amount of fuel required to get back to the pits and deliver the 1 litre sample will be calculated. If it’s not enough – dunces hat and back of the grid.

Williams: Back to Barcelona spec Williams are apparently returning to the Barcelona spec front wing this weekend. Good thinking lads. Yet they appear a little confused? There are 3 different front wings here in Austin – notice the different flaps, cascades and ‘r’ vanes (pic)

DRS restrictions in 2013: Red Bull may suffer most. The FIA technical delegate Charlie Whiting has informed the teams that he is no longer happy with them using DRS freely in Free practice and qualifying. “We are going to prohibit the use of the DRS during practice and qualifying except in the places where it’s going to be used in the race,” said Whiting. “It’s something that we told the teams about the other day, that we are doing it for safety reasons.

Whiting continues, “There have been a number of incidents and drivers have told me that it’s becoming increasingly prevalent [for the early deployment of DRS to cause problems]. One could argue that the early deployment of the DRS is not much different to early deployment of the throttle, but the DRS is an on/off switch whereas the throttle can be modulated.”

Whiting is confident that the change will not reduce the effectiveness of the DRS is creating overtaking. The FIA conducts analysis of the DRS based on data from every race weekend and this suggests that teams will continue to set the cars up to capitalise on using it in the activation zone or zones during qualifying and the race.

“The whole point of the DRS was to improve overtaking opportunities in the race,” said Whiting. He suggests they only allowed it for 2 years freely in practice and qualifying to persuade the teams to make the effort to develop the systems, otherwise they may have ignored them for 1 zone per lap only. Of course some teams have done this with KERS.

“Now I believe [based on] all the information we have, we should not see any reduction in the power of the DRS. Teams will still use it because even though they’re allowed to use it in perhaps two places on the circuit, the benefit will still be there” and of course the majority of the design time and cost development is now done.

My guess is that this will affect Red Bull more than the others. They have mastered the art of setting up the car for high downforce in the race, but utilised DRS to deliver blisteringly quick laps in qualifying. This means for many circuits that are not just power tracks (a la Monza) the Red Bull in the race has the downforce to be quickest in the twisty sections. They can then get far enough ahead for the relatively short sections of the track that are straight, thus overcoming any power deficit the Renault engine possesses.

That’s just my initial reaction – any thoughts anyone?

Teams winning the US Grand Prix: (Fiat and Peugot wins were non-championship events)

# Wins Constructor Years Won
9 Italy Ferrari
1975, 1978, 1979, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
8 United Kingdom Lotus
1960, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1973
7 United Kingdom McLaren
1976, 1977, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2001, 2007
3 Italy Fiat
1908, 1911, 1912
United Kingdom BRM
1963, 1964, 1965
2 France Peugeot
1915, 1916
United Kingdom Tyrrell
1971, 1972

Wild Bubba’s

No business in Elroy, and maybe none in Austin, has had more mileage out of the arrival of Formula One than Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill. Long, tall, Texan Wyman Gilliam offers everything from antelope to yak burgers to fried coyote tails, which are actually wieners fried in tortillas, in this funky eatery on FM 812 a few miles east of the track. Everyone from the construction workers to the German engineers to Circuit Chairman Bobby Epstein has been known to stop by.

More Austin pics: View from Webbers back yard (pic), straw hats? Jenson its Texas not Marbella (pic), an aerial view of turn 1 – I think this will be the most photographed corner in F1 this year (pic), Lotus and sunrise (pic), downtown sunlight (pic), COTA present to each official media individual (pic), Texan grid girls rehearse looking good (pic), BBC pit lane reporter goes Texan gal (pic), another turn 1 – I am being selected, I’ve rejected about 25 others (pic) Alosno bored taking sky shots (pic), observation tower 251 ft (71m) (pic), pit lane entry (pic) and a sunset (pic)

On this day in F1, Nov 16th

Considered by some as the greatest driver of all time – and certainly of the pre-war era – Tazio Nuvolari was born at Castel d’Ario, Italy. He did not seriously take to racing cards until he was well into his 30s but by 1932 he was European champion and leading up to the war only his brilliance enabled him to rival the all-conquering German Silver Arrows.

In 1935 he enjoyed his greatest season winning the grand prix of Pau and Nive. Perhaps his most stunning performance came in the German GP when he beat the fancied home teams despite his car being totally outclassed and a botched pit stop. The 300,000 crowd rose to acclaim him but the Nazi elite looking on were furious. (See thejudge13 history article, “The greatest race of all time“)

Although he resumed after the war, he was in his mid fifties and his health failing. Nevertheless, there were still triumphs. His final race was in 1950 – by then he admitted he was no longer able to withstand the effects of exhaust fumes, and even before he quit he often coughed up blood while driving. The fuel mixtures at the time produced toxic output. He retired to the property he had bought with his winnings. He suffered a stroke in 1952 and died from a second one a year later. Dr Ferdinand Porsche called Nuvolari “the greatest driver of the past, the present, and the future”.

Not sure what he’s doing here. Any ideas anyone?

The season-ending Australian Grand Prix had an end-of-term feeling about it as Nelson Piquet had already clinched the title. But that did not matter to Gerhard Berger, the Ferrari driver in supremely confident mood after his victory in the previous round. He claimed Pole from Prost’s McLaren and led from start to finish – despite a stinking cold, sore throat and bad earache – from team-mate Michele Alboreto as Ferrari claimed its first 1-2 for over two years.

Ayrton Senna had finished second but was disqualified when it was found the ducting for brake cooling on his Lotus was 2.5mm too wide. The race also marked the final outing in a Williams for newly-crowned champion Piquet, who moved to Lotus for the following season.

A clip from the 1987 race. It shows a few things, how far F1 TV has developed – some scary sparks for Berger in the lead – but notice how the chequered flag was waved with a swagger, and how Berger pops off his helmet during the warm down lap – waving to the crowd – hair blowing in the wind.

<iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/goopLk1SzFM?rel=0&#8243; frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>

FIAT chairman Gianni Agnelli appointed Luca di Montezemolo as the new president of Ferrari. Di Montezemolo set about a process of rebuilding with the target of winning the world championship yet again. Alongside executive director Jean Todt and with the considerable help of a certain Michael Schumacher, Ferrari achieved that target winning the drivers’ championship in 2000, the first time since 1979. For the next four years, it was unstoppable.

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

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14 responses to “F1 blows it AGAIN in the USA, Valencia Ferrari World off, Bernie’s German problem, Webber swears by the flag, Williams revert to Barca setup, RB affected most by change in DRS rules

  1. Re Nuvolari’s photo – maybe he’s doing a Kimi, albeit several decades earlier. From Wiki’s Kimi entry, if I may:

    “His first race outside Finland was in Monaco when he was 15 years old. During the race, the steering wheel broke, but he continued, informing his mechanic by frantically waving the steering wheel in the air on the home straight.”

  2. 2nd phantom post, IIRC!

    I doubt our Mayor Bloomberg would want anything to do with racing cars on the island… he’s spent much of his 3 terms making the city more friendly to vulnerable road users and at least trying to begin the conversation about the evils of cagers.

    Houston is the 4th largest city in the US: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston

    Why does Fiat get an Italian flag with crest, yet Ferrari only the plain tricolore?

    For Formula 1 trying to pull together as a business for the greater good, see also the other three-headed beast of the SFA/SPL/SFL…

    I’m in NY, but don’t have tv, so am somewhat insulated from what’s going on, but I haven’t heard anything about the race, either on US internet sites or word of mouth. That being said, there are VERY FEW events that are able to penetrate the entire US market to the point that the general populace knows they’re going on. I would list: Olympics, World Cup, US Open, Ryder Cup, and the playoffs/finals of the 3 big domestic sports. Even the Nastycar doesn’t register with the civilized part of the country (google: map of United States of Canada/Jesusland), so it would be a massive undertaking (read: hundreds of millions in advertising, repeat and rinse, repeat and rinse….) to get people to wake up and notice. And for what return on investment?

    Lastly, I think it could be a good race even with the conservative Pirelli tires, but I don’t even know if this race is supposed to be on terrestrial tv or not… looking forward to next year when at least some of the races are expected to be on readily-available channels.

    • Its only on Speed in the US I believe.

      You’ve hit the nail on the head F1 needs to appeal to the civilised part of the USA. Not the bootleggers 🙂

      F1 is about aerospace type cutting edge engineering more than it is about racing – rule of thumb has always been 80% car, 20% driver

  3. Nothing heard here. I saw on msn.com auctioning a Ferrari berlinetta for Hurricane Sandy victims at Circuit of the Americas this weekend but no mention of a race at all. It’s all about a highly decorated general with a mistress and got caught.

    • Think he’s had his day – like anyone doing anything in life – there’s a time to move over – IMHO Mr. E’s is long overdue.

      There are a group of smart FOM people who pretty much do everything that needs doing, and all I keep hearing is how great Bernie is at getting new circuits – what? bet I could manage that.

      Its the lack of investment from the commercial rights holders that really winds me up – what the hell has F1 done to attract the attention of the US media?

      Same old rock up tue/wed leave on Mon – live in our F1 bubble that happens to this week be in Austin

  4. Just dropping in to say I’m a big fan and your posts are bloody brilliant. 🙂 Also, I’m from India and can guarantee you that F1’s massive for us back here. 🙂

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