Vettel cuts it fine and Kimi…Vodka and Telecoms to Sposnor F1, Winter F1 testing shortened, India ‘best event’, Bargain price for 2013’s 20th race, Webber hospitalised, Kubica finished in F1, F1 art

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Vettel cuts it close & Kimi…: The FIA rules state that to be the World Drivers Champion, the driver must attend the end of season prize giving ceremony and receive in person the trophy. Well, Vettel almost missed the FIA’s end of season FIA prize giving gala.

DPA news agency reports that the Red Bull driver actually landed at the airport in Istanbul only to discover he did not have his passport, and initially he was refused entry into Turkey. For those of us who travel by air and can’t understand how this can happen because we have to show passports to board a commercial flight, Vettel arrived on a private jet and had the trauma of having to wait over an hour at the airport.
It was only after the intervention of the Turkish motor sports federation that he was allowed through customs with a temporary passport. It wouldn’t surprise me if Ferrari had hidden it (only joking Ferrari fans).

Kimi Raikkonen, who previously had commented that he “unfortunately” had to attend the FIA Gala due to finishing the season in third place, also caused a stir when he showed up at the black tie function, wearing a suit but no tie. “I don’t follow the rules,” Lotus quoted the inimitable Finn as saying on a micro-blog, “I just make them.”

F1’s next sponsors: Having sealed the deal with Rolex last week, the Telegraph is reporting Bernie Ecclestone is looking to partner F1 with a vodka brand and a mobile phone operator.  “We are chasing one or two people who want to be involved and we are looking at phones and drinks,” Ecclestone is states. “People like vodka and things like that, they are out there.”

Apparently Belvedere – a luxury Polish vodka – is in pole position for the official spirits deal, even though its president Charles Gibb insisted “there are no discussions taking place with Formula 1”. There is no indication of which telecoms company is being referred to.

Winter Testing: I’ve jus re-read the Federation Internationale de l’ Automobile rules on testing (not recommended reading) because I’m wondering what has happened to 3 of the test days. Since testing became restricted, the teams have tended to have 15 days of testing each year. Yet there appears to be just 12 scheduled for 2013.

This year, 3 days from the 15 in the 2011 pre-season testing were moved into May mostly because Ferrari had been banging on about a lack of mid-season testing. The teams are allowed a maximum of 15,000km testing a year which includes the 12/15 pre-season testing days, 3 days young driver tests and 4 days straight line speed testing.

I have feelers out to provide the answer to where the missing days have gone and will report as soon as I know. For now we have Jerez 5-8th Feb, Barcelona 19th-22nd Feb and a second test in Barcelona from Feb 28th-3rd March.

2012 Best event award: The Grand Prix of India has for the second year been awarded ‘best event of the season’ at the FIA Gala in Instanbul.. The organizers of the race, Jaypee Sports International (JPSI) accepted the award at the FIA Gala in Istanbul. “This is a very proud moment for us,” JPSI Board Sameer Gaur commented. “I am proud to receive this FIA award for the second time on behalf of the whole team and the whole of India.

Previous winners include South Korea and Abu Dhabi. Mmm.

Red Bull courting Austrian GP: It appears that the battle for the 20th race of the season is now strangely about who isn’t going to pay for it. Ecclestone is stuck in a bit of a hole with the withdrawal of New Jersey from the 2013 calendar, he doesn’t want to lose face and fall back to 19 races and so is going to find it tought to extract the usual $30-50m hosting fee from any promoters.

Last week the Turkish government ruled out providing any state support for Istanbul Park’s return when a mere $13.5m would probably have closed the deal. The former A1-Ring, now called the ‘Red Bull Ring’, is throwing its hat into the ring (pardon the pun) to fill the reserved twentieth spot on next year’s calendar.

Dr. Helmut Marko told Speed Week: “We have made the FIA aware that we have a track with a full Formula 1 license” and when asked who would pay Bernie’s bill for hosting the race he quipped, “There is the province of Styria, and the republic of Austria.”

The matter of the possible accommodation in the Spielberg area has been seen by some as problematic, but Marko insisted: “Nonsense, there was enough in the 70s and 80s”, noting Graz – Austria’s second largest city after Vienna, is not far away.

But what about the difficulties or organising a Grand Prix at such short notice?: “No problem,” said Marko. And the small media centre?: “It can be expanded,” he promised.

So the benchmark has been set. A bargain $13.5m to pay to Mr.E/FOM for hosting a 2013 race has been turned down – but how low will he go eventually to secure the last minute but important 20th event?

Webber in hospital: Mark Webber has had successful leg surgery in his native Australia over the weekend. Just after the 2008 season was completed, he badly broke his leg in a downhill mountain cycling crash during his outdoor adventure challenge in Tasmania.

Four years on, Webber has had another operation on the leg, mere days after contesting his Tasmanian challenge yet again. He tweeted, “Hospital trip planned a while back,” he announced on his micro-blog. “I needed further surgery from previous injury. All good and on the mend.”

Honeywell: Sorry to blow thejudge13 trumpet, but today Sportspro breaks the news that the Lotus Formula One team is reportedly close to announcing a multi-million dollar title sponsorship deal with Honeywell, the American technology giant.

“It is thought the framework of the agreement is in place and a formal announcement pending,” said Sportspro journalist David Cushnan on Monday.

On November 30th we reported this in the daily blog news. (LINK)

Informed insiders suggested the value may total some US$30 million annually, a huge boost to the finances of the Enstone-based team which finished fourth in this year’s constructors’ world championship.

The deal is being negotiated by The Partnership Practice, a London-based agency headed by Steve Silk, which has significant experience in global motorsport sponsorships. If confirmed, the deal would be the largest team sponsorship deal in Formula One for some time and the second team title sponsorship deal in a matter of weeks, following car manufacturer Infiniti’s step up at Red Bull Racing.

Kubica Finished in F1: Robert Kubica has admitted he will not be returning to Formula One any time “soon”. Recent rumours suggested with Lotus failing to yet confirm Grosjean for 2013, the team might have their eye on Kubica.

Yet we hear today, “I was hoping that I’d be back behind the wheel of a Formula One car soon,” Kubica  told Autoweek, “but it didn’t work out.”

Remember Kucica is 27 years old and he says, “I still find it difficult to move my right arm. I had several operations that were meant to improve this issue, but there’s not been a spectacular improvement. If I can move my arm again, there is a chance that I will return (to Formula 1). But until that happens, we’ll have to see. There’s no chance of me coming back to Formula One soon,” he admitted.

Kubica confessed to missing circuit racing, mentioning “touring cars or endurance racing” as potential avenues for the near future. He said another option could be the world rally championship, but that would mean that he would probably not “fight for top results”.

“We’re talking with people at the moment, and everything will be decided by the end of the year,” said Kubica. And if he chooses rallying, that will likely mean he will not even attempt to return to Formula 1 at least until 2015. “I don’t want to spend a year in the world rally championship only to find out in November next year that I have no idea what I’m doing in 2014,” said the former BMW and Renault driver.

“If I choose rallying, it needs to be a long term programme that allows me to learn. I can’t do what I did in Formula One before the accident, so I must choose a new direction, make the next step in my career. We’ll see what it is.”

Sounds pretty final to me. Very sad.

F1 Art: Alastair Gibson worked in motorsport for over 20 years, 14 of which were in Formula 1. He was master mechanic at Benetton for 4 years before moving to the BAR, where he was chief mechanic.

Gibson traded his oily rags for the artists ‘canvas’ when he began to create sculptures on the themes of marine life, using as the base material … carbon fibre.

His work is to be exhibited in the Moscow gallery for Fine Art from December 14th onwards. One witty tweeter on seeing this picture called it a tribute to the ‘Piranha Club’.

One of the works of Aleister Gibson

HRT mislead suppliers: Formtech Composites, which supplies carbon fibre components to a number of teams on the F1 grid, says it agreed a payment plan with the HRT unaware that the team had begun liquidating their assets.

“It has come to our knowledge that they owe a substantial amount of money to other suppliers in the motorsports industry,” a statement issued by Formtech read. “HRT decided by mid-November 2012 to stop the F1 racing activity. Formtech Composites is one of their suppliers, who supported them until the last race in Brazil”.

“By 15th November a payment plan for all open invoices was jointly settled between HRT and Formtech Composites and 25% of the amount was paid according to the plan – leaving still substantial amount unpaid. One week later HRT changed the responsibility of their people involved in the case and stated the following:

• Liquidation procedures started on 12th November 2012 (so before payment plan was agreed).
• They are no longer in a position to pay 100% of the outstanding invoices
• The new offer is to pay 30p for every Euro owed across their entire creditor list, with no room for negotiation.
• The owner of the HRT F1 is a Luxembourgian Fund (misleading Formtech Composites Ltd on the possibilities of finding a viable way to chase the debt further)”.

“According to Formtech Composites Ltd’s knowledge, the owner of HRT (which was formerly owned by Campos Meta 1 SL) is 100% Thesan Capital SL and no Luxembourgian Fund. Formtech Composites doesn’t accept this misleading information tactics. Formtech Composites is going to investigate further into the true shareholder ship of HRT and Thesan Capital SL.”

There has been no response from Thesan Capital to the claims. What does strike me is Formtech have been paid 55% of what they were owed. Having spent some of my early years working with liquidated companies – I think they’ve done well to get what they have had.

From what I know, HRT mitigated their shut down as best they could ensuring there was as much money to pay as many people as possible. Had they failed to attend any of the races toward the end of the season, there would have been a substantial claim from FOM for breach of contract to attend and participate. This would have reduced their creditors payments further.

They sent a skeleton crew to Austin and Brazil, having already laid off staff in Madrid.

As to Formtech’s complaints about not being aware of Thesan Capital’s ultimate ownership details of HRT, they only have themselves to blame for failing to do their due diligance properly on their customer. It has been common knowledge that Thesan Capital have a mysterious trail to the ultimate owners  – who I have alleged is in fact the Spanish lender Banco Popular.

On this day in F1, 10th December

Proof that in the world of Bernie, stories just go around and around – anyway Mr. E first announced he was interested in staging a grand prix through the streets of London. “I would sign a deal today,” he said. “It could happily run alongside a British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It’s finding the money to put it on.” The idea even got as far as a planning meeting at which it was established that grandstands would be erected in Hyde Park and a pit and paddock complex along Horse Guards Parade.

Last year we had Bernie offering up $40m of his own cahs to help fund a London race. The problem being the setup cost around the streets of London have been estimated at over $100m – plus F1’s hosting fees. Last week the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) has announced that West Ham United has been named as the preferred bidder for the stadium.

An unknown company called Intelligent Transport Solutions Ltd had made a bid for the race in and around the stadium, along with West Ham, Leyton Orient and the University College of Football and Business. LLDC said that the F1 bid had “too much uncertainty in relation to key aspects of their bid and assumptions in their business plan”.

The plan never made much sense as it required the track to use the stadium seating. Firstly access to the stadium for the F1 cars would have been convoluted, given the restrictions caused by the geography and that would have meant that action within the stadium would have been poor.


Jean Behra and Harry Schell signed a deal to drive BRMs in the following season. On the same day Colin Chapman announced his Lotus firm would be entering the sport, using a Formula Two car with a new modified five-speed gearbox.

(This page will be updated throught the day – as F1 news breaks)

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3 responses to “Vettel cuts it fine and Kimi…Vodka and Telecoms to Sposnor F1, Winter F1 testing shortened, India ‘best event’, Bargain price for 2013’s 20th race, Webber hospitalised, Kubica finished in F1, F1 art

  1. Just a small point but does anyone know (I’m sure you do…) why the F1 trophies were presented in a country that has no F1 connections…?

    • Sorry No. These things are maybe organised years in advance like soccer world cups and at the time it was arranged Turkey was in F1? Just a suggestion…

  2. Very sad indeed for Kubica… he was a potential world champion and was / is a very talented guy… i wish him well in rally

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