WTCC more viewers than F1, Evolution of RB cars, Bahrain: More trouble for F1, Alonso Samuriesque, F1 on a slippery slope

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Editor’s note: Sorry the news roundup is a little late today, I spent quite a long time piecing together Gary Hartstein’s conversations over the past week or so for the earlier article. It appears today is rather bitty news, but here we go.

Spin, spin and more spin: The World Touring Car Championship site released the following last night.

“WTCC’s TV audience is growing fast. Since the inception of the World Championship in 2005, figures grew from 70 million viewers across 20 broadcasters to over half a billion viewers across 84 broadcasters in 2012.”

Speaking about the near future, Francois Ribeiro, motorsport development director for Eurosport events said: “In 2013, our priority targets are Russia and USA. We are currently in negotiations with premier networks in both countries. On top of this we want to push for improving our coverage in Japan.”

Of course the WTCC’s TV strategies are directly connected to the importance of the automotive markets and they state, “We really try to make sure that WTCC is aired, whether it is covered by Eurosport or not, in the main automotive markets. And then of course we try to place our programmes in the emerging markets, which are  key to the car manufacturers”, says the website.

So WRC and WTCC have got issues with TV coverage even though apparently 1/2 billion viewers watch WTCC. I’m struggling to believe these figures as they are comparable with F1 – and if they are so good why isn’t a global TV partner falling over themselves to offer their services.

F1 is really my bag, but maybe some tj13 readers can shed further light on this. Smells funny!

Evolution of RB cars:

I published a link to a similar chart for all the iterations of McLaren cars since their inception and here is one for Red Bull. Notice how the regulations catch up with design…..

In 2009, Red bull pioneered the ‘shark fin’ look – where the roll pod above the driver was connected all the way to the rear wing. This stopped the car sliding as much in corners and to understand the principle, put your hand out of the car window at speed against the air flow and feel the pressure of the air. This fin used that air pressure to ‘stand up’ the RB5 in the corners.

I genuinely don’t know why the FIA didn’t ban this in 2010 – but they didn’t and others copied it. After countless complaints over the ‘look’ of the cars, the ‘shark fin’ was made illegal for 2011. The regulation stated there must be a certain gap between the end of the bodywork atop the car and the rear wing.

Newey flaunted the rule in the 2011 RB7 to its limits where now we see a gap appear but the step is still ugly. The FIA realised they needed very detailed regulations on the angle and curve of the engine cover and this resulted in the much more pleasant 2012 curves to the rear of the car.

Alonso: Samuri – esque? Or is it just me? (LINK)

Buemi: I’ve been waiting all day for confirmation of this and I’ve not got it yet, but Blick a usually reliable Swiss publication is reporting today Buemi has signed for 2013 as RB reserve/test driver.

Bahrain: I know this is a topic that divides F1 fans in their views heavily and you will gather how I feel over F1 and Bahrain over the coming weeks. Let me say now if you see things differently, I respect your point of view, and anything I say is because I believe in what I’m saying but have no political agenda. #LetsNotFallOut 😉

Reuters reports today, “Bahrain’s highest court upheld prison sentences against 13 leaders of the 2011 uprising on Monday, a defence lawyer said, a ruling that could stir up further unrest in the U.S.-allied Gulf Arab state”.

The sentences range from 5 years to life and Bahrain’s main opposition condemned the decision saying, “These judgments confirmed the rulings issued before by the military court which were condemned by the whole world. I think it is accurate to call these rulings political persecution”.

“It confirms that the Bahrain regime is refusing to take its chances to reform and seems to be deepening its own human rights crisis,” said Brian Dooley, director of the Human Rights Defenders Program at U.S.-based group Human Rights First.

The only comment from the establishment was, “This verdict is final, there are no more appeals possible, it is the last stage of litigation,” said lawyer Mohammed al-Jishi.

The main charges the convicted men faced were “forming a terrorist group with intent to overthrow the system of government”, as well as collaboration with a foreign state. The men deny all charges, saying they wanted only democratic reform in the Gulf Arab monarchy”.

It’s inconceivable there will be no ramifications for F1 in 2013. Here we again…

Adam Parr: Former Williams supremo elect – as he was described by Sir Frank Williams himself – criticised and fell foul of Mr. E. The result being he was evicted from F1 (resigned) knowing the team he had saved from near extension would be compromised by his continued stewardship during their 2012 Concorde negotiations.

Adam has written a mysterious comic book called ‘The art of war’ about his 5 years in F1 and some key political moments therein – I did a review in December. Anyway Adam has just done an interview with richlandf1.com which is rather short and unfortunately in my humble opinion lacking a little in content. This is not to criticise Luke Smith who runs the site – it may have been all Adam was prepared or had time to give – and they have 1500 twitter followers to tj13’s 400.

However, there was one paragraph in the interview that intrigued me. Adam was asked how the sport had changed during the 5 years of his tenure at Williams that ended March 2012. This was his response:-

“It is different but I worry that the positive changes of 2008 and 2009 will be squandered. That was a period where people did things that were essential for the sport and to some extent either they put the sport ahead of their own narrow interests or they at least realized that the two were the same. I hope that we do not see that spirit disappearing.”

The next question changes the subject so I’ve been thinking further about this most of the day and will explore the possibilities of meaning behind Adam’s comment.

Bernie is now obsessed with the F1 ‘show’. In many ways this is preferable to the years of abdication of his influence when teams were spending up to $1bn a year and Ferrari won everything for half a decade. The real champion for change in this matter was Max Mosley who though much maligned started the ball rolling by banning teams from building a million dollar engines that only lasted 200km for practice and qualifying.

Whether Il Padrino (LdM) is right and Mr. E is struggling to manage all the balls due to his advancing years, or whether the fact that this year has been a Concorde year and Bernie has merely reverted to type setting one team off against the other as they scrabble for his favour and a ‘special’ deal – who knows.

So what is the difference between 2008-09 and now? Well F1 was in a visible crisis. 2008 began with 11 teams, and after a couple of rounds Super Aguri withdrew and went to the wall. 2009 Honda withdrew and at the last minute Ross Brawn did a deal to ensure the first grid of the year still had 10 teams.

It became apparent as the season progressed that Toyota and BMW were to withdraw and panic set in the upper echelons of F1. This of course was the background to the amicable Concorde discussions that were extended that year and even saw Mr. E and CVC dip in their pockets to produce some guaranteed funds – ‘Bernie’s cash’ – for the new teams who would compete in 2010.

A mere 3 years later and F1 is approaching another crisis and the players can’t see it. Too obsessed with their own agenda’s the co-operation that led to the arrangements for 3 new teams and a host of technical agreement to make it easier for the ‘smaller’ teams to compete is again gone.

HRT is kaput and Marussia has no Concorde deal. All the other teams have received (or will receive) an up front payment for agreeing to attend all F1 race weekends. Ecclestone is on the record saying it’s easier for him to manage F1 with 10 teams rather than 11 or 12.

Facing the possibility of only 8 teams competing in 2010, the FIA, FOM and the teams came together and did things not in their own self interest to ensure they prevented the diminution of the grid and the sport as a whole. Where is this collegiate attitude for Marussia?

Maybe the teams think that 10-11 competitors is fine, but the probem is 12 has become 11 and could quickly become 8 or 9 given unkind winds. Just because 11 teams arrive in Melbourne doesn’t guarantee the season will finish with the same number. In fact more often than not teams drop out mid-season as their hopes for further backing fades and they run out of cash.

Should Marussia fail and Caterham fail to bridge the gap to the mid-field, it would be questionable whether Tony Fernandes will want to be the owner of a team that trails around behind the rest.

If you’ve been reading tj13 since its inception September, you’ll know we’ve been following the fortunes and promises of mallya for some time. Sahara and Kingfisher’s financial strains have been well documented and I believe from people I know within the team, the $80m investment promised by Mallya has not been forthcoming and neither are there plans for new plant and machinery to arrive at the Silverstone factory any time soon.

Toro Rosso are the plaything of Dietricht Mateschitz and for the time being advertise his global brand to the Spanish speaking world quite well. But dismal performances such as last year will only add value to the Red Bull brand for so long, this is a big year for Toro Rosso.

Teams like Williams and Sauber would lose their raison d’etre should those manufacturer’s pushing hard at present for the FIA to allow customer chassis win the day.

Of course the F1 apocalypse won’t happen, but there are a range of issues being swept under the carpet for ‘another day’ which Adam Parr has seen before and is warning F1 that they are on a slippery slope.

2012 Highlights: 9 minutes and 15 seconds as shown at the FIA gala in Istanbul.

On this day in F1, Jan 7th

2005: Red Bull, who had bought Jaguar F1 two months earlier, appointed Christian Horner as its sporting director and at the same time dispensed with the services of Jaguar team principal Tony Purnell and managing director David Pitchforth. Horner was owner of the Arden team for whom Tonio Liuzzi had won the Formula 3000 title the previous year.

The Times reported, “The news was met with a stunned silence when a team meeting was called at the Milton Keynes factory to announce the changes, a measure of the affection for Purnell and Pitchforth. They were also highly regarded in the pit lane for their quiet but efficient attempt to turn around a struggling team. Max Mosley, president of the FIA, the sport’s governing body, once described Purnell as one of only two intelligent team principals in Formula One.”

Purnell was appointed in 2006 as a technical consultant to the FIA

1985
Lewis Hamilton, named after American sprinter Carl Lewis, was born in Tewin, Hertfordshire. His first taste of motorsport was with a remote control car his father, Anthony, bought him in 1991. He went on to become F1’s youngest champion in 2008, but he nearly didn’t have a racing career at all.

At school he was a successful footballer playing alongside, Aston Villa and England midfielder, Ashley Young. Hamilton’s paternal grandparents emigrated from Grenada to the UK in the 1950’s, and his grandfather Oliver worked on the London Underground.

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

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18 responses to “WTCC more viewers than F1, Evolution of RB cars, Bahrain: More trouble for F1, Alonso Samuriesque, F1 on a slippery slope

  1. The Al Zazeera report, which seems to have been taken off site now, included the statement that the only hope left for the prisoners was a Royal Pardon. If this is the case, then it is well known that the King is rather more sympathetic than his ministers, any such pardon could be timed to calm thing down before the GP. However with all protests and indeed assemblies of four or more now banned, either there wont be any further protests or there will be a revolution. But the Saudi soldiers are still there ready to shoot anyone they don’t like the look of.

  2. With regards to the amount of viewers for the World Touring Car Championship, I would suggest that those figures are probably too high. In many sporting events, they use figures for how many people are able to watch the broadcast rather than how many people actually watch it – I don’t know about the latest one, but the 2011 press release used the phrase “a cumulative global audience of 472 million different viewers”, so it is likely to be an increase. Also, in comparison, the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France – one of the first ones to pop up on Google when searching for a cumulative global audience – received a cumulative global audience of 40 billion viewers, so I don’t know what the point of this is any more.

    Even Wikipedia is sceptical about these claims, saying on the list of the most watched television broadcasts that “Many events in the world have been reported as been watched by large audiences, sometimes by billions – although most of the figures do not have reliable sources, and are given by the promoters of such events to boost viewership, sometimes before the actual airing.” I think that the quote adequately summarises the purpose of the WTCC’s claims. Also, a quick Google search brings up articles such as this one (http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/why-fifas-claim-of-one-billion-tv-viewers-was-a-quarter-right-438302.html) that explain the admittedly very confusing issue a little better.

      • This reminds me, last year the BTCC was shamelessly pretending to be viewed by 1+ billion people worldwide in their 2012 media guide.

        Always take viewers figures directly issued by racing series with a pinch of salt. They are often cumulative figures, or even worse, household reach statistics.

        • Welcome – I believe this is your first comment.

          What you say is too true. I hope you post your views further too – they’re a pretty friendly crew at TJ13

          • Thanks! It is indeed my first comment indeed. Really impressed with your blog so far, pretty strong analysis, apparently well informed, and very frequently updated. Always refreshing to see F1/motorsports sites that don’t just copy-paste press releases. Keep the good work up!

  3. re. your comment “I published a link to a similar chart for all the iterations of McLaren cars since their inception”:

    i have searched this site as well as the wider web, but have been unable to find your link. Any chance of pointing me to the relevant blog?

    The only one I found via the web was this one:

  4. Sorry about the above – didn’t mean to embed the above video. I hope it didn’t breach any rules of posting here. It was supposed to be just a link!

  5. ” In 2009, Red bull pioneered the ‘shark fin’ look … ”

    … unlike Jaguar in the 1950’s with the D type ?

    • You got me – funny thing was I just posted an animated video of the evolution of the F1 car shape (only 1 min long) from 1950 to now – and whilst watching it I saw the shark fin style shape of the D-Type and realised my mistake from yesterday.

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