The end of Lauda Watch? This could be it folks, maybe Lauda watch will be no more. Today Reuters report that Damiler-Benz has severed all ties with Aabar investments who sponsor Lauda’s cap at $500,000 a year. Not only have they acquired Aabar’s 40% of the F1 team but also the 9% holding the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund had invested in Damiler-Benz the global car manufacturer.
Aabar have lost over $2bn by trying to be clever and underpin the Daimler-Benz acquisition with a derivatives deal which went wrong. They have in effect lost their shirt and the banks that funded the deal have retained the stock, which by the way is worth double the price Aabar paid for it.
The logical extension of this was for Benz to buy back the Aabar investment in the former Brawn team which they acquired together in 2010. It is pertinent that Aabar proposed Lauda to handle the broken negotiations with Ecclestone over the new Concorde agreement and is rumoured to have been a reassuring figure for Hamilton when he decided to sign for the F1 team.
Mercedes then appointed him to the board of the F1 team as chairman – more likely a point man to keep Stuttgart informed. Lauda did begin his tenure by making noises about finding efficiencies at Brackley and helping discover why the team was not competitive.
However, 2 weeks ago Lauda suggested the car manufacturer needed to spend another 50m euro’s in 2013 to improve the F1 teams budget and to make them competitive. thejudge13 reported last week that this had been met with an icy response from Dieter Zetsche, CEO of the Daimler-Benz who said the team had the best engines and it was time they improved the other aspects of the car. What now for Nikki?
It is now completely in the hands of the German manufacturer as to how much resource they wish to put into F1. You would assume that having committed to 8 years under the Concorde agreement they are serious about mounting a challenge on both the championships.
In answer to a question that’s just come in from McLaren78, yes both Honda and BMW bought BAR and Sauber respectively in full. Whether we can use 100% ownership to gauge the future success of Mercedes F1 – I’m not sure as these teams proved – but in terms of commitment it is certainly all in the hands of the Daimler-Benz company.
Fact: Forgot to tell you yesterday, that was the first time Alonso, Vettel and Hamilton had shared a podium.
Ecclestone bribery charge: Contrary to the latest media speculation, German prosecutors have not yet decided whether to charge F1’s Bernie Ecclestone with bribery. Former Formula 1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who accepted Ecclestone’s millions in alleged bribes, is already in jail.
A German news agnecy said that recent efforts to broker a ‘deal’ between Ecclestone and the prosecutors, whereby the 82-year-old Briton is charged but given only a suspended sentence if he pays back the millions, had failed. By the way for new readers, thejudge13 ran an early headline about 9 weeks ago, “Ecclestone tries to settle bribery charge with cash”.
But chief prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch would not confirm the ‘deal’ talks, and he further told DPA news agency that a decision about whether Ecclestone will be charged is still yet to be taken. Ecclestone was named by the judge at the conviction of Gribkowsky as the other person party to the fraud.
The ‘Kart’ hits back: In the GP review, I noted that the Red Bull whingeing from Horner, Newey and Vettel about back markers was just navel gazing. Narain Karthikeyan has hit back at Sebastian Vettel, following the latest bout of criticism from the reigning Formula One world champion.
Horner said, “The race unfortunately hinged on one back marker that didn’t use his mirrors,” he said. Vettel screamed angrily into his radio after losing the place to Hamilton, and some immediately thought the German was being critical of the McLaren driver. “It was not targeted at Lewis,” Vettel clarified afterwards, “it was targeted at the back marker which gave a nice big envelope with an invitation to Lewis.”
There is already some history between the Kart and Vettel from earlier in the year when following an on track incident the German called him a “gherkin”. After Vettel’s latest criticism, Karthikeyan said: “I can’t hear the bullsh*t anymore.
What we didn’t know, but is reported today by Auto Motor und Sport, at the drivers’ briefing Charlie Whiting told the drivers it was not possible to let the leaders through in the very fast first sector. Kart says, “Charlie told us that we should let the faster cars go from turn 8, the first slower corner, which is exactly what I did. Vettel was at the briefing. Did he not hear? He complains too often and too hard.”
One of Seb’s best mates in the paddock is Timo Glock, but on this occasion he is siding with fellow back marker Karthikeyan. “We drive our own race in these fast corners, because there are so many pieces of rubber off the racing line. The rule is that you have to let them pass by the third blue flag, not before.”
I noted this has always been part of racing yesterday and Formula 1 legend Niki Lauda also saw nothing extraordinary about the Vettel/Karthikeyan incident. “Lapping cars is always better for the pursuer than for the leader,” he said. Well agreed Nikki 🙂
Unlucky 13? Jaime Alguersauri who has been doing quite a lot of media work this year suggests that the 13 (unlucky number) point gap will not be lost on the superstitious Vettel. Ferrari have moved into full psychological warefare mode following yesterdays race. Dominicali said on TV yesterday, “Let’s see if he [Vettel] will be lucky in seven days time in Sao Paulo.”
The 13 point gap means that if Alonso could drag the ‘truck’ of a Ferrari onto the winners step of the podium, if Seb finishes 4th he will still be WDC champion. We’ve had a bit of fun at Alonso’s expense recently with his quoting of the percentages, “125% certain I will win” we heard before Abu Dhabi. Yesterday the Spaniard adjusted this probability to, “maybe on paper that chance is not so big, maybe 25 percent. But deep down, I feel it (the chance) is much more than that”.
Alonso continues, “Anything can happen at Interlagos and we saw again how important reliability can be, didn’t we?”. He is of course referring to Mark Webber’s failure in the sister Red Bull on Sunday with yet another alternator problem and there is 40% chance of rain on the forecast at the moment for Sunday in Brazil.
It may be that qualifying is really the key as to whether Vettel faces a serious challenge and Alonso is realistic about this. “Clearly, if it’s dry and we have a normal race, one can expect Red Bull to be in front of everyone and us on the third or fourth row, so the more unknown factors there are, the better it is for us”.
Alguersuari speaking to Mundo Deportivo was asked whether he thought the title was already decided: “For the best car yes, for the best driver, no”, he quipped. “Brazil will be a very uncomfortable race for Vettel, and very comfortable for Fernando,” he added because he rationalises, “Vettel can only lose the championship, because in theory he has already won. But theory doesn’t give you ten points”.
Fernando after 11 years in F1 knows what it is like to lose a title whilst trying to defend but Vettel does not have this experience in the locker and Alguesauri thinks this will be an advantage because Alonso has nothing to lose – Vettel can lose it all – including a unique place in the history books for which the young German is famed for knowing so well.
Talk about timing. As I pressed published to upload the article, this popped through from Ferrari. They are definately trying to get at Vettel:
“13 is the number of the week: it’s the number of points that separate Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel in the Drivers’ classification, the number of podium finishes so far in 2012, but above all it is also the number of championships in which Scuderia Ferrari has arrived at the last race of the season, having either already won the title or titles, or been in a position to fight for them. It’s an achievement which, as President Montezemolo has stated is something that everyone at Ferrari can be proud of”. (Ferrari.com)
Renault say RB will use new spec alternator in Brazil: Since the problems in the summer, Red Bull elected to use the old spec alternators worrying that the new one’s were substandard. Remi Taffin states today that this will change for Interlagos, “”It is very simple. We go for the new spec. It has passed all the tests.”
When asked why Red Bull unlike all their other customer’s had elected to go down this path he said, “It was a common decision, so we put everything on the table and we decided altogether we should go that way. We had everything to fit either the old or new design.
“But the feeling was generally that there is some sense to keep on using something that we have known for years with low mileage and stuff like that, even if we had a new solution that we knew had gone through all the tests. Maybe it is a bit more difficult to understand, but put yourself in the situation where you have to make a decision.”
“Sometimes you go into a shop and there are two different things and your head says you should buy this one but your heart says you should buy the other one. Taffin added that Renault’s other teams had successfully used the revised newer specification of alternator last weekend meaning that Red Bull should have no concerns about its reliability for Brazil.
“This is the first Sunday it has been used, but now we are up to 2000km on a few items with track and dyno testing, so there is nothing we would do more on this item before we fit it on the car.” This presumably means Mark’s failed alternator was of the old spec. Newey was scathing about Renault’s inability to solve the problem yesterday, not the first tensions we’ve seen between the constructor’s title winning partners as receently there was bickering about whose fault the underfueling of Vettel’s car was down to.
On this day, 19th Nov
Al Kellar died as a result of injuries sustained in a fiery Champ Car crash at the Arizona State Fairgrounds track. Keller drove in the Indianapolis 500 when it was part of the FIA World Championship from 1950 through 1960 but he was more famous for racing in the NASCAR series from 1949 to 1956 with 29 career starts. He won two races during the 1954 season and was the first driver in the history of NASCAR’s top division to have won a race in a foreign-built car, winning the 1954 Grand National road-race at the Linden Airport in New Jersey. He was also involved in the crash that killed Bill Vukovich in 1955.
(This page will update throughout the day – as stories arise)
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