Jackie Stewart accuses FIA of ‘disorganised management’, Maldonado funding hangs by a thread, Ferrari’s big plans for a new F1 facility, F1 drinks Texas dry

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Jackie Stewart dismissed by the FIA: Just when you thought it was safe to read F1 news again we get Big Ron vs Lewis revisited, the F1 2013 calendar and now flag-gate all resurrected in a week.

Following the Brazilian GP, Jackie Stewart has been critical of the FIA’s handling of ‘flag-gate’. In an interview with Christian Sylt Stewart on cityam.com the former triple world champion asserts, “Was the judgement of yellow and green flags right or wrong in Brazil and why would that have to come up on a Wednesday or Thursday? That is a huge statement of a disorganised function that it should come up then.”

Sir Jackie argues the FIA practice of rotating the stewards race by race is problematic. ““How can you possibly have four different stewards at every Grand Prix? Why have you not got one professional – one man who goes to every race who is going to make consistent judgements and has got authority?”

“I am surprised how silent Todt has been,” said Stewart. “I expected him to have more presence. I don’t know whether he’s biding his time. I don’t think he is by any means not smart so there must be a reason.”

The FIA under Jean Todt has been characterised as an organistion that does not get drawn easily on controversial matters – in fact many matters at all. However, it may be this attack on Todt himself that has indeed brought a response from the F1 sports governing body.

A spokesman for the FIA responded, “It was not a lack of management as there was no case to answer. Race control did not refer this to stewards because it was not deemed to be an incident.”

As longer standing readers of tj13 will know, Sir Jack and I have not always seen eye to eye. However, I have to whole heartedly agree with Mr. Stewart when he says, “The whole world is celebrating a new world champion and then that happens on a Wednesday. That is a poor declaration of management.”

I can’t resist mentioning this which had escaped me until I read a pretty obscure account of the 1973 race in Kyalami. Stewart qualified 16th on the grid and went on to win the race, but controversially passed both Ronnie Peterson and Peter Revison in full view of a yellow flag on his way to victory.

In those days yellow flags were more of a gentleman’s’ agreement than the current GPS regulated system we have today and they were there for the safety of the drivers.

Jibe aside. I find myself in an alternative universe where space and time have no meaning as I completely agree with Sir Jack’s observation of the problematic nature of rotating stewards.

He is completely correct by saying that not having a permanent member of the stewarding panel will lead to a lack of continuity and this needs urgent attention.

Further, if the FIA think that their explanation of their handling of the yellow flag issue was appropriate then they need to launch themselves into the 21st century.

Of course it was completely proper within the archaic rules as they stand – none issues = no comment – but with the plethora of camera angles – provided by FOM – and the analysis tools available to all TV broadcaster’s, a rethink over how the stewards communicate to the world watching F1 is in my opinion also in desperate need of consideration.

Further, if the FIA think that their explanation of their handling of the yellow flag issue was appropriate then they need to launch themselves into the 21st century.

Of course it was completely proper within the archaic rules as they stand – none issues = no comment – but with the plethora of camera angles – provided by FOM – and the analysis tools available to all TV broadcaster’s, a rethink over how the stewards communicate to the world watching F1 is in my opinion also in desperate need of consideration.

Extended interview with Gary Harstein: Here’s a link to a young man’s of only 16 years blog who has obtained an interview with Gary Hartstein. It’s pretty comprehensive encompassing Hartstein’s views on all things F1 – except the biggie we’ve all been reading about – why was he given his marching orders in Austin, with 1 week of the season left. (Link)

Pastor Maldonado: There’s been a couple of media stories around the young Venezuelan driver over the past 24 hours. The first is that he and a number of other athletes from Venezuela attended a Catholic mass organised to pray for Hugo Chavez, the president of the country.

Venzuela has recently had national elections where the president was re-elected for another term. On being informed of the result, Pastor tweeted, “Long live democracy”. Chevez controls the nationalised oil company PDVSA who of course sponsor Maldonado to the tune of some $35m a year to Williams.

However, Chavez is presently in Cuba believed to be receiving treatment for cancer. He is due to attend his inauguration this Thursday and opponents are presently arguing that should he not be capable of being present, the national constitution dictates he must forfeit his presidency.

Whilst the sum of $35m a year is not the largest an F1 team has received in annual sponsorship with Vodafone reportedly paying McLaren over $50m a year, it is the largest amount paid to a team from a sponsor directly associated with a driver. For Williams it is a huge part of their annual F1 budget.

All is not well with PDVSA. Reuters reported in September 2012, “Hugo Chavez’s cash pump, Petroleos de Venezuela, is running on empty. Venezuela’s troubled state oil group may now pay its suppliers with IOUs instead of cash.” Apparently, PDVSA reported $125bn in sales but a staggering 40% of that was used by Chavez for his spending programmes.

Such was the drain on the nation’s oil producer that it had to borrow $9.5bn to keep itself cash solvent. Clearly much of the spending is on national programmes which some argue are merely targeted toward the voters who keep Chavez in power.

However, Maldonado is generally accepted as a personal project of Chavez  and should he lose power it is more than possible that his successor would have little interest in funding a British based Formula 1 team and their Venezuelan driver.

Pastor is a very quick and exciting driver and his win for the historic Williams F1 team in Barcelona 2012  was a highlight of the year for most F1 fans. However, considering the flack that Grosjean took in his first full season, Maldonado is now entering his third consecutive year driving in F1 and will need to improve his results.

Maldonado received nearly twice as many penalties as the next most penalised driver in 2012, and only managed to finish ahead of his now departed team mate Senna on 7 occasions. (Senna finished ahead of Maldonado 7 times too).

Yet unlike the contrite Grosjean who claims he has ‘learned his lessons’ and will be more careful in 2013, in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, Pastor tells us, “Yes, I’ve had run-ins with other drivers, not only now, but in the past. But I have won in each of the categories in which I have competed and, every time I walk down the hallway in my house and see everything I’ve achieved with this [driving] style, I think I should continue.”

If I was the accountant at Williams F1, never would the words – ‘the cheque is in the post” have carried such gargantuan significance.

Ferrari new dawn: If you’ve ever been to Maranello, you cannot fail to be impressed by the scale of the operation there and the historic association with F1’s past. However, over the past decade a bunch of former ‘garagistes’ have stolen the limelight by building a facility to eclipse Motorsports’ most famous marque.

The McLaren Technology Centre in Woking was opened in 2003. Such was the scale of the development the Financial Times described it as “the largest privately funded construction project in Europe.” This futuristic concept replaced the previous 18 sites from which the McLaren group operated.

The philosophy behind the design was explained by Ron Dennis as follows. “Put a man in a dark room, he’s hot, it smells bad, versus a guy in a cool room, well-lit, smells nice… When you throw a decision at those two individuals, who’s going to be better equipped to effect good judgment and take a good decision?” (International Herald Tribune).

A detailed description of the facility is provided by Wikipedia. “The building is accompanied by a series of artificial lakes: one formal lake directly opposite that completes the circle of the building, and a further four ‘ecology’ lakes. Together they contain about 50,000 m³ of water.”

“This water is pumped through a series of heat exchangers to cool the building and to dissipate the heat produced by the wind tunnels. The main working space of the building is split into 18 metre wide sections known as ‘fingers’ that are separated by six metre wide corridors known as ‘streets’.

Facilities for employees include a 700 seat restaurant, a juice and coffee bar, a swimming pool and a fitness centre. An underground Visitor and Learning Centre is connected to the main building by a walkway.

A 145 metre long, rectangular-circuit shaped wind tunnel is located at one end of the building. Team McLaren uses it for testing development aerodynamic parts, as well as testing aerodynamic set-ups. The tunnel contains 400 tonnes of steel  and the air is propelled by a four metre wide fan that rotates at up to 600 rpm.

The facility came a close second in 2005 to the Scottish parliament building in the world acclaimed Sterling prize award for design. Since then McLaren have won a string of green awards for carbon footprint minimisation and other green initiates.

Times have been tough in the world supercar market in recent years, yet despite the worldwide recession and the fall in Italians driving Ferrari’s, the brand has seen an incredible turn of fortunes in the emerging Asian markets. The company posted all time record profits this year and the supercar business is going from strength to strength.

Following the damaging debacle of the very public debate over the shoddy nature of certain Ferrari F1 facilities, principally the wind tunnel; the company has today announced the genesis of a new building project for the F1 team.

Ferrari.com proudly states, “The first excavations have indeed begun of the foundations of the building that will house the offices of the management, engineers and administrative staff along with the working areas of the team.

The location, which is owned by Ferrari and currently used as a car park, is situated between the Cavallino restaurant and the building that is currently used by the Scuderia. The project has been planned in accordance with guidelines inspired by the practicality, efficiency and style that characterise the Formula One programme.

The aim is to create an environment that has been well thought through for the people who will work there. This programme, which has benefited from the positive steps taken in favour of the employees and their families, has earned Ferrari the title “Best place to work in Europe”.

Somehow I’m felling a little underwhelmed by this vision when compared to The technology centre, but let’s wait and see what develops. Having said that if you ever get chance to visit Maranello and its stunning location nested in the Dolomites, Madonna di Campligo  – GO!

I believe there is an amazing exhibition on at present dedicated to Sergio Pininfarina and his most exciting Ferraris which has registered unprecedented visitor records since its opening on 26 October. Such is the sucess of this exhibit, the Ferrari museum has decided to extend the exhibition until 24 February.

F1 drinks Texas dry: USA today reports, “Circuit of the Americas became the state’s top liquor seller in November as the inaugural Formula One race weekend in Austin drew more than 260,000 fans. The Texas comptroller’s office says Circuit-related events had $2.8 million worth of beer, wine and mixed drink sales.”

On this day in F1, jan 8th

1977: For those of us suffering F1 racing withdrawal’s, this is the second OTDIF1 where I have reported a race taking place. The season opener was in Argentina and the race was won by Jody Scheckter driving a Ford powered Wolf. James Hunt was defending his crown and by the half way point of the race had a 15 second lead, but he misjudged a hairpin and crashed into the barrier. He had been reportedly seen ”socialising’ the night before.

2007: I like this one as following michael Schumacher’s retirement, Jean Todt announced that the drivers for the new season Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa would receive equal treatment. “It will be healthy for 2 Ferrari drivers to compete equally with each other” said Todt.

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

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4 responses to “Jackie Stewart accuses FIA of ‘disorganised management’, Maldonado funding hangs by a thread, Ferrari’s big plans for a new F1 facility, F1 drinks Texas dry

  1. re. McLaren technology centre
    You can view it from the outside using a public footpath on Bonseys Common to the West of it.
    Park at the “Sands At Bleak House” for a bite to eat or at the Horsell Common Six Cross Roads Car Park.
    Then walk North through the Common to get to the MTC:
    http://goo.gl/maps/gq6Or
    Take care to keep on to the public right of way and not encroach on to McLaren property. The path is the bow-shaped track running North to South here http://binged.it/XMgKMp

    Bonseys common: http://www.countrysidemanagement.org.uk/publns/ranger/74/maclaren.php

    If you want to make a day of it, then it is just 4 miles to Brooklands and the F1 exhibition at Mercedes Benz World.
    http://goo.gl/maps/M4Wwd

    In the past they have shown live F1 races, free, on a big screen, eg. in 2012 they said: “Mercedes-Benz World is hosting this year’s season from the heart of the historic Brooklands motor racing circuit. Entrance is free and seats will be given on a first come, first served basis. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.” They will likely do the same in 2013.

  2. Talking of Sergio, Mr Perez is now officially a Mclaren Driver – arrived at MTC in a Mclaren 12C today. Decent way to start your new job. Video on Sky Sports.

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