Ferrari announce… no launch date, Helmut Marko: Alonso too political, Nurburgring still not confirmed, Banks close to seizing Mallya’s assets, F1 car evolution

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2013 F1 calendar: Our favourite subject. At risk of getting reader DwilD started again, I’m afraid there is more to report. Having said that, I don’t remember a season in recent times where the number of issues on the calendar are yet subject to uncertainty.

Yesterday tj13 reported potential unrest in Bahrain. The week before Christmas we had the bizarre scenario of Barcelona claiming they knew nothing of the widely publicised bi-annual sharing arrangement with Valencia (LINK) and Valencia’s surprised response (LINK).

Well today it’s back to Germany. The calendar issued by FOM/FIA as currently showing on simply states – 07/07, Germany. As most will be aware, the German GP alternates between Hockenheim and the Nurburgring and this year the F1 event should be at the Nurburgring.

German media are reporting today that this is still not confirmed. A spokesman for Nurburgring,  Peter Nuvoloni says, “We hope that Formula 1 will be at the Nürburgring in 2013” but apparently he is not confident adding, “The ball is currently with Bernie Ecclestone”.

Totalsport reports many [German] fans are tired of the uncertainty over the future of Germany Grand Prix. There are currently no tickets on sale and the window for selling VIP packages is diminishing as other events are stealing a march on corporate budgets.

The reason there is confusion over where F1’s supremo will send the F1 circus in Germany is down to the bankruptcy of the operating company that ran the Nurburgring and helds the contract for F1. Whilst this matter is now resolved it appears the original contract for F1 racing at the venue may now be null and void.

Of course the latest we have heard on the currently vacant fixture for the 20th race in Europe is, ‘it’s Turkey or nothing’ according to Ecclestone. I’ll leave the final comment to DWilD – “What has happened to F1 decision making all of a sudden?”

UPDATE 17:08 GMT Reuters are reporting in the last half hour that they have had a telephone conversation with Mr. E. He says, “It should be the Nuerburgring and we are trying to make it happen, I’m talking with them today.”

Ecclestone also confirmed to the news agency that there will be only 19 races next year. So Eifel will be serving the Schnitzel but disappointingly there will be no Turkish delight.

Ferrari launch 2013: You have to smile at times, and I’ve been caught out by the dash to get the news out quickly before when I had Kamui translated tweeting ‘another season’ – I managed to get a colleague to do a proper job about an hour later and it actually read something like – ‘another sweet potato season begins’.

Anyway, yesterday certain renown F1 sites announced the Ferrari launch of the 2013 car – which as the oldest F1 marque is big news. However, today Ferrari have denied there is a date set yet and will inform us in due course.

Apparently other sources are now reporting, “Although the Italian outfit has not confirmed the exact date of the launch, it stated on Tuesday that it was on course to unveil its new challenger before testing begins on February 5.” Surely not!

Further, “It is likely that the new car will be launched on the weekend before the test – either February 2 or 3 – so it has enough time to travel to Spain.”

Is this why we’ve no FI driver announcements? Vijay Mallya’s stricken airline has been a story tj13 has followed since the sites inception in September. (Type ‘Mallya’ or ‘kingfisher’ into the search bar on the right hand side and you will see the trail of reports).

Indian banks have loaned the airline around $1.5bn and up to a further $1bn is owed to other creditors. So far they have taken a pragmatic view and been lenient and given Mallya’s group time to deliver a sound business plan for the restart of operations.

It appears time is up. The Economic Times quotes a spokesman for the banks consortium as saying, “On Friday, it became clear that banks are running out of patience. The meeting was called to give a final hearing to the borrower before lenders decided pull the plug.”

This is the first time that lenders have discussed recovery measures. The next step also discussed at the meeting would be for the lenders issue a legal notice to the airline. They would then recover assets such as the Mallya family villa, Kingfisher House and around 20% of the shares in Mallya’s United Spirits.

The Diageo deal to buy a significant portion of United Spirits that was announced last month is still awaiting approval of the shareholders under Indian securities regulations and no cash has yet passed from them to Mallya. This leaves Vijay with very little wriggle room and it is difficult to see where he and his co-investors are likely to raise the promised $80m to invest in Force India.

Sahara who own the rest of the shares in Force India have until February to repay nearly $4bn wrongfully extracted from small investors and used in part to acquire amongst other property Grosvenor House in Mayfair, London

Further, the last we heard from Force India was that a shortlist of drivers had been drawn up and given to Vijay for him to make the decision. Maybe this is why we have heard nothing on the driver announcement as it appears he has far more troubling matters to occupy his mind.

Marko Watch: Since tj13 reported the ‘admiration’ Niki Lauda expressed for Marko in ‘Lauda compliments Marko‘, it seems Her Helmut has been going out of his way to upset all and sundry. Red Bulletin a subscription publication has an interview with her doctor. I’ll strip out the editorial links and see what you think.

“Sebastian’s driving was virtually flawless but he is a phenomenon: it is always like that. After the summer break, his performance curve shoots up. That’s what happened in previous years, too. I don’t know how he does it, but to keep doing it cannot be a coincidence.

That brings us back to his method of preparation, the way he shuts himself off from the rest of the world, so that he can still call on reserves that other drivers might not have….Fernando Alonso, for example, who is busy with politics and funny comments.

Vettel ignores it all; he doesn’t read the newspapers, or the internet. And that’s the point, you see, we concentrate on our job: to make the fastest car and the best team possible. I believe that there is no way old Enzo would have liked such defeat [2013 WDC], but he would acknowledge the performance of the opposition, and then [he] would whip his boys accordingly so they’d do everything to beat us….but not with such actions as we have recently experienced. Alonso is constantly involved in politics.

I believe we saw the stress he was under towards the end of the season. Saying things like, ‘I’m competing against [Lewis] Hamilton, not Vettel,’ and ‘I’m up against [Adrian] Newey’. These [are] psychological skirmishes. We said, ‘Just ignore him.’ There is a lot of nonsense being said. ‘Vettel can’t overtake.’ Ridiculous; just look at Abu Dhabi and Brazil. ‘He is only able to win because he’s sitting in a Newey car.’ We have two Newey cars, so why aren’t we clinching one-two at every race?

Then the comment of the great Jackie Stewart that Vettel must go to another team to prove himself. This is said by someone who scored all his greatest successes in just one team, Tyrrell. I can’t take it seriously.

thejudge13 reader contribution: Thanks to P King for bringing this to our attention. I know not everyone reads the comments section so here it is today for all to see. I think it’s pretty neat and look how many times similar ideas repeat in F1 car design over the years.

Car iterations through the years: I’ve been publishing a few of these over the last week – McLaren and Red Bull being 2. The one below is the cars from 2010-12 by team. Interesting that from the ‘established teams’ in 2010 only Mercedes and Williams didn’t adopt the ‘shark fin’.

For others click HERE to go to twitpics of @diehard_f1_fan who has produced them.

Photo: Modern-day F1 evolution: 2010, 2011 and 2012! (via reddit)

Ferrari Street Artist: Wherever I go street mime artists appear to becoming more and more prevalent. They range from those who pretend to be motionless statues until you’re up close and then they make you jump to those with complete 10 min shows including magic and all kinds of shenanigans. I have never seen anything quite like this – and why is he right next to the toilets?

On this day in F1, Jan 7th

1911: The oldest licensed driver ever to race was born, Tom Delaney. He raced from 1930 until his last race at Silverstone Vintage Sports Car Club in April 2006. Delaney made his Brooklands debut as a young man in the 1930 Tourist Trophy at the wheel of a Lea-Francis Hyper – the car became his pride and joy, and he was still racing in his old age. For many years the Hyper was Delaney’s only car, until he could finally afford the price of a second-hand Ford V8 to use on the road. Then, when war loomed and there was no prospect of racing, Delaney sold his faithful Lea-Francis to a Dr Bomford — but soon realised he wanted it back. Bomford had taken it with him out to Aden, but was so touched by Delaney’s appeal that “he wrote me a letter saying he couldn’t sleep at nights and he must let me have the car back”.

In 2004 Delaney crashed during a race at Silverstone, and was run over by his car which rebounded off the barriers. Later in hospital, when he was found to have nothing more than a sore wrist and he called his mechanic to see if the car could be repaired for racing the following day. In 2005 Delaney received the Motor Sports Association’s first ever Lifetime Achievement award to mark his 75 years of racing. Tom died on August 31, but he kept his Lea-Francis Hyper taxed and insured until the end of his life. On the road he drove a 18-year-old BMW 325i and for local trips he took public transport showing his bus pass.

2006: Today we had the first indication that Michael Schumacher may be about to retire. Aged 37 he said, “If I don’t have the chance to win races and challenge for the title I don’t think I’ll be very keen to extend my career. If we [Ferrari] want to progress we need more staff. In F1 you cannot afford to stand still. I want to know where we’re heading.” Michael finished his first F1 career at the end of the season, though there are many who wonder whether it was this outburst that actually influenced Ferrari’s thinking and it was they who replaced him with Kimi Raikkonen.

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

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11 responses to “Ferrari announce… no launch date, Helmut Marko: Alonso too political, Nurburgring still not confirmed, Banks close to seizing Mallya’s assets, F1 car evolution

  1. Really loving the Marko watch, I’m starting to think he’s making these statements exclusively for Vettel to read. Vettel’s comments to Kimi post race in Abu Dhabi made it painfully obvious that he not only is aware of what the press and everyone else say about him, but also that he’s deeply sensitive and keen to try and prove them wrong.

    I think Red Bull aren’t in a good position for 2013 with the changes to DRS use in qualifying and Marko is trying to spin 2012 as much as possible. Judging from the way Ferrari’s DRS was set up in the last parts of 2012 I think they’ll be dominant in the first parts of the season.

    • Just written the piece. In next post just after midnight. But I appreciate the heads up – as it gets busier with more and more F1 news about I’ll miss stuff.

      • I thought you might, but as you said, you will miss stuff. Just read your thank you email. Shows you how one article is enough to show people how good this blog is. Hopefully, this doc hartstein business will come out eventually.

          • you say ‘some’, just appeared to be ‘prisoner monkeys’ negative about you – does he have a vendetta against you or something? As the last reply said, “You know, there are things of actual importance out there in the world to get upset about and expend energy on. Talk about brewing a tempest in a teapot.”

          • Oh that’s pretty good then, I read it on my mobile which didn’t render the site properly – it just seemed to be 90% of the column inches on the subject relating to my article. Don’t know the guy at all. Maybe he knows me – Who knows.

  2. Is Hulkenburg a smart man or what? Looking forward to watching what happens with FI, and Nico’s performance in Sauber. I’ve always rated him.

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