Fernley criticises Hulkenberg, ‘Concorde’ agreement faces anti-competitive legal scrutiny, Williams lose 2 contracts in 1 week, SKY need new sposnor, McLaren target 2s stops ‘as normal’, Austrain GP no go, Barrichello to leave INDY

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Fearnly criticises Hulkneberg: It appears Nico Hulkenberg’s move to Sauber may not have been the best decision of his career – if you listen to deputy team principal of Force India, Bob Fernley.”Nico has left the team at an inopportune moment for him,” he suggested in an interview with Autosport ‘.

He goes on to argue, “If you look at the stats since the summer break, the Force India car was clearly the fifth best performing. We’re still quite a distance off the top four, but since the summer break we’ve forged ahead of all the others.”

We then get the usual platitudes of separated lovers remaining friends, “We’re very sad to see Nico go,” he said. “He’s been a great asset to the team. We’ve enjoyed having him around and it’s a loss to us. There’s no question that we’re sad he’s leaving.”

The teams other more established driver, Di Resta, seems to have struggled this year yet Force India will retain his services for 2013. It appears Di Resta himself may have been looking for a move to another team, but Fearnly denies this saying, “No, I don’t think so. Up to Singapore, Paul had dominated and Nico was feeling down. Since Singapore it went the other way around. That’s how it’s gone with them all season, they’re so close.

thejudge13 has been following closely the non-F1 woes of the Mallya and Sahara respective empires and believes the reason for Hulkneberg moving on was due to concerns over the possible financing of the team and whether it would be able to push on in 2013.

Of course since Hulkenberg’s announcement to leave we’ve had Mallya boasting an $80m investment in equipment and tooling for the team but no detail of where its coming from. Forbes recently downgraded him to an $800 millionaire but most of this is tied up in non-liquid assets and whether Vijay can lay his hands on $10m at present would be questionable.

Sahara too have their problems, the Indian securities Authorities have demanded they have repay over $4bn plus 15% interest to investors they defrauded in the next couple of weeks. Further, the investment announcement carries even less weight when you consider it came following a meeting with Mr. E who was doing his annual ‘health check’ on the mid-table teams and their ongoing financial viability.

All this said, I have to agree with Bob Fearnley as in thejudge13 article “Why Sauber will fall back in 2013” I attempt to show that Sauber do well when there is a significant rule change and the rules banning off throttle exhaust blowing for 2012 gave them innovative design opportunities that doesn’t exist next year.

Concorde Challenged in European Courts: It could be that the newly negotiated Concorde Agreement ends in tatters before the ink dries on the paper. The problem appears to be with the newly proposed Steering Group that excludes the participation of certain teams.

Not surprisingly, the idea for this committee emanated from Mr. E. 3 teams are signed up for the 5 slots available for permanent members – Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Mercedes and Williams have been invited as the other 2. Lotus at present would fill the 6th slot following their performance in the constructors’ championship.

The smaller teams have expressed concern at their new found position of exclusion and it may be that they will invoke EU competition law to prevent this arrangement coming into force. The CEO of Sauber, Indian born lawyer Monisha Kaltenborn, has been vocal on this matter on more than 1 occasion in the past 6 months.

I believe earlier this year, Daimler Benz instructed legal experts to examine this matter thoroughly, in particular the dominant position of Ecclestone/FOM and specific articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). FOM’s is the only organisation that distributes F1 rights to teams but has inconsistent criteria as to how they are applied.

Legal scrutiny suggests that the way the money is distributed among the F1 teams is also anti-competitive. Some get paid a lot more than others for the identical participation and performance criteria. Further, Caterham and Marussia have been excluded from the F1 commission on the grounds that they have not managed to score any Championship points in the past 3 years.

The expert opinion finds problematic that the commercial rights holder can  selectively decide on which of the existing teams will be equipped with a new “Concorde Agreement” and which are not. For example, Marussia has to date there is no commercial “Concorde” offer on the table, this may be interpreted as a distortion of competition rules because other teams will earn a lot of money from their ‘Concorde’ deal with Ecclestone.

Whilst Mercedes have since the public spats negotiated via Nikki Lauda a contract under the new ‘Concorde Agreement’, but are by no means are they now sanguine in regard to Ecclestone. The legal opinion they commissioned would most likely be available to the 5 teams not included in the new Steering committee to do with as they wish. In the meantime Mercedes have not agreed to join the committee.
Adam Parr is reported by Bloomberg today saying, “There’s a strong case that an unequal division of power and money to a subset of teams is unlawful”. Although refusing to say if he wanted Williams to make a complaint, he suggested other Formula 1 teams accept the situation because they are “highly dependent” on Ecclestone’s “goodwill”.
It appears many of the fawning F1 fraternity assign a sage like status to Ecclestone and his achievements. Yet it I think Mr. E forgot a simple old adage when demanding Parr’s removal from Williams and F1 – “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”.
Who knows whether the teams will indeed take legal action, I think they were hoping the Munich prosecutors would have by now declared their intentions and charged Ecclestone over illegalities in his dealings with the sale of the F1 commercial rights to CVC. Yet what is certain is that should the Gribkowsky matter provoke charges, there will be a number of others that follow suit quickly. A piranha feeding frenzy could occur.
Williams loses 2 contracts: The announcement of the cancellation of F2 for 2013 affected Williams Group more than any one else in F1. They supplied the chassis for all the participants in the series, and whist they were low cost it did provide employment for workers and some revenue.
Today, Jaguar have announced the cancellation of the C-X75 project, to build world’s first hybrid super car as a joint venture with Williams. This was to be a limited edition 250 model run of a radical $1.1-1.5m verhicle. The extraordinary claims for the production car were 0-60mph in less than 3sec, 0-100mph in less than 6sec, a top speed of over 200mph and CO2 emissions of no more than 99g/km, putting it on a par with a diesel-powered Ford Fiesta.
If you read Adam Parr’s book you will gather that when Williams were in serious debt 5 years ago, they sought a number of external commercial partners and projects to add gravitas to their brand – which in turn brought in other commercial arrangements. This was one of 2 flagship projects.
So however it is spun, this is a blow for Williams. To have their name on what was to be in effect the replacement for the XJ220 would have added huge kudos to their engineering division. The car will now never be produced, yet there are 5 working prototypes that will be used as test beds for future Jaguar products.
A Jaguar spokesperson said, “the company’s view is that the global economic landscape does not currently support the introduction of a supercar such as C-X75”. When you Consider also that since the C-X75 was first shown to the world, Porsche, Ferrari and McLaren have all announced they’re building hybrid hypercars too. Is that a fight Jaguar really wants to take on?
opinions  Jaguar cancels C X75 programme

SKY need new F1 sponsor: I have had to laugh today, following the announcement that Santander have pulled out of their sponsorship of SKT TV’s F1 cover, a number of F1 ‘watchers’ have tweeted they didn’t even know they were part of the SKY F1 broadcasts. Maybe this is why Santander have pulled out.

As is with commercial TV these days, certain high profile shows have a sponsor, whose logo and mini advert is played immediately before the show begins, at the start and end of each commercial break and after the closing credits. I do remember Santander’s 1-2-3 accounts being battered into my skull all year – how you can miss it I do not know.

Nevertheless, this form of sponsorship is highly profitable to SKY and would have been of the order of several million a year for hundreds of adverts across the entire F1 channel. Times are tough in advertising as companies are beginning to realise globally some $20-30bn a year is wasted on branding exercises that gain their businesses no advantage.

McLaren want 2 sec pit stops normal: Sam Michael told Autosport today, “We want to complete a pit stop in two seconds.” He adds, “We thought we would achieve that this year and are confident that it is possible.” McLaren of course have the F1 record of 2.31 secs to complete the stop on Jenson’s car in Hockenheim.

Michael reckons that there is plenty of room both from technological and personal fitness angles to make 2 seconds a normative time.

Support Kamui : Now the site is at 176, 222,597 yen ($2,153,440)

Austrian GP a no go: Sometimes I get infuriated with the F1 media. The headlines the other day were all “Austrian GP for 2013” after Turkey’s government refused to pay any of their hosting fee to Ecclesone. I have to admit Helmut Marko muddied the water, because prior to his comments I was scornful that such a plan was possible.

Anyway, having done a bit of research today, it appears when Dietrich Mateschitz applied to refurbish the old A-Ring circuit in Austria, local and regional protests were loud indeed. The owner of Red Bull was frustrated as he attempted to pursue his plans to build a giant motor sports complex along with an airport.

The result of the environmental lobbying meant an eventual very much slimmed down Red Bull Ring with strict rules on the number’s allowed to attend and the noise levels that can be generated. The most recent DTM race held there exceeded the decibel limits for noise that are legal, need I say more about how much more noisy F1 cars are?

Further, the spectator limits are 25,000 a day and the local environmental officer when questioned about the possibility of an F1 race being held there said to MotorSport, “”I can not imagine it personally, I am employed to ensure compliance with such regulatory matters. What do they think, they can pay me to turn a blind eye?”

Well sir, that’s the usual F1 way. Seems like Marko was talking out of his hat.

Rubens likely to leave Indycar : Rubens Barrichello says he is “torn” between staying in IndyCar next year or returning to his native Brazil to contest the premier Stock Car series full time. Barrichello made his INDY debut in 2012 but is believed to have run into sponsor trouble as he pushed for a second consecutive season next year.

In the meantime, he has contested a few rounds of Brazil’s Stock Car series, and according to Agencia Estado news agency, Barrichello is now considering a full season in 2013. “I’m torn between INDY and Stock Car,” says Rubens. “I think we will make an announcement soon.”

He admitted he would have liked another season in the USA, in order to build on the lessons learned in 2012. “I’d like to put into practice what I’ve learned, “But it may be nearing the time to go home, for my children. Anyway, I’m in a good situation, because I am able to choose as far as how I work”.

Brazilian driver Caca Bueno has also claimed on Sportv television that Barrichello will indeed contest the full 2013 Stock Car championship.

On this day in F1, Dec 11th

Michael Schumacher tried to prove he was faster than a speeding plane when he took on an Eurofighter Typhoon in his Ferrari F2003 at the Baccarini military airport near Rome. However, he lost 2-1 over three distances – 600,900 and 1200 metres. The Ferrari boasted a top speed of 370kph against the fighter’s 2450kph; the jet, which was stripped of weapons, weighed in at 21,000 kilos against the Ferrari’s 600.

The race was organised to mark 100 years of manned flight and the 50th anniversary of the death of Tazio Nuvolari. Nuvolari performed a similar stunt in 1931 when he raced his Alfa Romeo 8C2300 against a Caprioni 100 biplane. “It was a very interesting experience,” said Schumacher after the races. “I was glad to be here today – it was very impressive.”

China’s first F1 grand prix, provisionally scheduled for March 28 1999,was dropped after the FIA decided that the Zuhai circuit organisers needed another year to finalise arrangements. In fact, it was not until 2004 that the race took place.

The world’s first motorshow, the Exposition Internationale de Velocipede et de Locomotion Automobile, opened in Paris.

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

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11 responses to “Fernley criticises Hulkenberg, ‘Concorde’ agreement faces anti-competitive legal scrutiny, Williams lose 2 contracts in 1 week, SKY need new sposnor, McLaren target 2s stops ‘as normal’, Austrain GP no go, Barrichello to leave INDY

  1. One wonders whether Hulkenburgs move to Sauber was in fact a first step to Ferrari. Perez was widely viewed as as the leading contender to take Massa’s seat but with him at McLaren, and unlikely to move for a few years Hulkenburg may now, provided he does well at Sauber, the odds on to replace Massa. And with Ferrari providing engines and some tech support it would be a way for Ferrari to assess him off track as well.

    • Possibly, but over the years I’ve discussed this ‘stepping stone’ possibility over a number of drivers with F1 people. The general consensus is that nothing is guaranteed – particularly when Ferrari and drivers contracts are the subject.

      It could have been suggested to him and he’s followed the suggestion…

      • When Massa had his accident in Hungary few years back, the then manager of Nico Hulkenberg Willi Weber, suggested that there was an offer from Ferrari to Nico to fill in. Yet the excuse was that timing was bad, Nico was driving in GP2 and was racing for the title and didn’t want to get distracted and the usual bunch of bull that Willi seems to have bouncing in his head. However if there really was an offer, it could mean that indeed Nico was (and could still be) on Ferrari’s radar and if so that could be a reason to go to Sauber. In fact my opinion on the “Sauber-to-Ferrari” path for drivers is the same as The Judge’s one, however in this particular case there could be a grain of truth.

        In that respect I wonder what is the opinion of people inside F1 about Nico? We all know he is fast, he is talented and aggressive, I think that he is even better in that respect than Vettel, overall if I have to compare him to someone in F1 I see more of MS in him than I see in Vettel, but that is the perception of a person who is watching the sport and doesn’t know what is going on during the technical meetings in the teams. On top of that I don’t really know is Hulkenberg mentally strong and is he consistent? So is Nico just a good driver, or is he World Champion material and could he be one in a properly fast and reliable car?

        • A number of people I know are fascinated to see how he compares to Lewis next year.

          There is a view that Schumacher came back when off throttle blowing and modern engine mapping techniques created a big counter intuitive driving style for max cornering.

          So we just don’t know how good Schumacher was in part 2 of his career – and therefore how good rosberg is.

          This year the effects are much less counter intuative and so Kimi has had an easier re-introduction. Rosberg has been in a dog of a car.

        • The problem is that things change in F1 – even if Ferrari have suggested this to Hulkenberg, Sauber could be terrible next year and do a Williams 2011 – then its game over.

          I do think Force India have some momentum and could well re-establish themselves ahead of Sauber and if Maldonado delivers the true potential of the Williams car – they will have several podiums.

          So as they say if ‘a week is a long time in Politics’ then a year in F1 is an eternity

    • I’ve just been checking the definitions of inopportune – and there is a definate negative connotation implied towards the subject. Innapropriate is suggested as an alternative by Collins, but Fearnley isn’t clear whether it is inopportune for the team or for Hulkenberg.

      If it is inopportune for Hulkenberg – this would definately be a direct challenge of his decision – that it is inapproriate and therefore incorrect.

      However, even should his decision be innapropriate for the team this would also be a criticism or negative comment on Hulkenbergs decision inferring the impact on the team would be innapropriate.

      maybe – ‘questions the timing of his decision’ would have been better. In headlines though and on twitter its a bit long winded 🙂

  2. I think Mr. Fearnley is a wee bit disappointed and to say that Force India ‘surged past’ all other midfield teams is a bit of a stretch, isn’t it? The fact that Sauber didn’t run rings around FI is because it had the most inconsistent driver pairing on the grid. Both Kamui and Sergio were driving in a rather digital fashion. They were either right at the business end of the pack – 4 podiums in a single season – or they spent most of the race bumping into other cars or pieces of trackside scenery.

  3. “Seems like Marko was talking out of his hat” – well there’s a surprise!

    I’m getting so bored of this calendar malarky – just decide please Bernie. We want good races, you have enough money!

  4. Interesting summary of what was going on w/ Concorde (or lack thereof) and great to see that you referenced Parr’s sentiment w/r/t to the possible illegality of the proposed F1 governance and unequal revenue distribution (which we know has unfortunately become reality). The more days tick by the more the shine rubs off F1…

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