Kovalainen out of Caterham, Di Resta breaks rank over Force India driver selection, Caterham targets more realistic

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Di Resta ‘surprised’ at dithering team decision making: When asked by and AP journalist how he felt about the lack of announcement from Force India over the 2013 team drive line-up he replied, “I am surprised there has been nothing yet.

TJ13 has been questioning for some time why Di Resta himself has not been confirmed and now just 3 weeks away from the 2013 cars hitting the test track in Jerez, this is more than just being tardy and must surely be disconcerting for the Scottish driver.

Di Resta’s views on this are, “The team have said they will announce it in good time as to where they are going to be, and I have to respect that”, but when it was suggested this must affect his preparation he candidly responds, “Ultimately, it does.

Paul continues, “[but] I know who my team are, who my mechanics are. I’m feeling quite good about it, very positive. I’ve been at the factory and the vibe is very high.” This appears a little defensive IMHO.

I was chatting to someone this weekend who is both experienced and wise in the matters of F1 team operations, and I told him of my increasing surprise at Force India’s lack of announcement of Di Resta. He smiled and said he was not. I pressed him on the matter insisting there is absolutely no reason not to announce a driver who will definitely be racing in 2013.

He asked me one question. “When football clubs may be about to change owners or managers, do they announce new player contracts or leave those decisions for those about to take responsibility?”. Of course, this may be viewed as utter speculation but it does give a sane reason  as to why Di Resta has not been announced.

Meanwhile, TJ13 has consistently reported on Mallya’s non-F1 affairs – on the basis they could affect the Force India team greatly. In the last week I’ve reported the Indian bank consortium is close to issuing a winding up order on Kingfisher airlines and that the Indian tax authorities have repossessed Mallya’s private Airbus airliner which cost about $80m.

I now appears the stricken airliner’s 4,000 employees are reaching the end of their tether too. They have not been paid for the last 8 months salaries whilst being promised by Mallya a number of schedules for repayment that have come and gone with no money forthcoming.

According to the Economic Times, the employees representatives met last week to decide upon a course of action. They have now warned they may petition for a winding up order of the company and in the meantime have also submitted a memorandum to the ministries of corporate affairs, civil aviation and labour, seeking an investigation into the management of the company.

Further, Force India’s other owner’s Sahara have failed to comply with the Indian Securities Authority to repay around $4bn to small investors who have been defrauded by the company. The ISA has repeated its order and a new deadline for February has now been  given.

Anyway, to tie up this section in Di Resta and force India, here’s an interview he just gave the Autosport Show in Birmingham. Some people in the twittersphere got upset with his comments about Schumacher..

@mcrisever  …. don’t like Di Resta words about Schumacher , he’s young and inexpert , this comment can give him big headaches with F1 people

@Sky_Ller: …. a bit rude

Thanks to @duskyblogf1 for bringing this to tj13 attention

Heikki definitely out of Caterham: I have suggested on occasions since starting the blog that Heikki would do better to play and talk less about golf and appear more committed to the cause – a feeling held within the team for a while. Whilst there has been no announcement from Caterham to confirm my headline, 2 things have happened over the past few days that make the ‘tea leaf’ reading pretty easy for us here at TJ13.

First Heikki tweeted his surprise at not yet being re-engaged by Caterham (a tweet now deleted), then Mike Gascoyne has been airing his views on ‘matters ‘ to crash.net.

“It is actually a great shame,” Gascoyne admits, “Heikki is a very talented driver but, last year, his management did not handle him very well and he has not done himself any favours. It is a tough environment out there for everyone. He has had three years with Caterham, was paid well, and he should have shown more respect about that.”

Okay, Mike is not directly involved with the F1 team anymore and is heading up Caterham Composites for Tony Fernandes but it is inconceivable that Fernandes would not utilise Gascoyne’s experience and knowledge when deciding upon driver line up. Whilst the matters above will have had a bearing on the matter, it is the lack of a decent sponsor that will have been the biggest negative in Kovalainen’s corner as Gascoyne reveals.

“I think budgets will be very hard this year, as it is tough out there for everyone financially,” he explained, “We can’t expect anything to happen overnight, but we want to make sure that Caterham Group is financially viable and it builds up its resources to being a long-term F1 team. Steady investment to make sure we are here in five years, ten years’ time and to be a solid midfield team, a fifth to eighth place overall player, is the aim.

“We realise what the game is. People boom and bust easily. We have come in and done a very steady job compared to other new teams and have been professional, but we’ve taken a step back and said ‘okay, we are not going to get there straight away, we need to manage our budgets, mange investment and build up our resources so we are here for the long term’.

In the meantime, the bullishness of Petrov’e representatives is fading. Following his race in Brazil that secured Caterham 10th place ahead of Marrusia there were voices that believed this would be enough for Caterham to reciprocate with gratification and sign the Russian for another year.

TJ13 has consistently said, sentiment means nothing in F1. Well done Vitaly, but where is 2013’s cash coming from would be the predominant thoughts on Caterham bosses minds.

Apparently Petrov’s chances of a 2013 drive appear to be diminishing as negotiations with Caterham have stalled, his manager Oksana Kosachenko told R-Sport on Sunday.“At the moment there are a lot of unanswered questions,” Kosachenko said. “There are too many nuances that need to be sorted out.”

She added: “We’re at the waiting stage, which is linked to the team’s restructuring. We completely depend on them and can’t speed anything up.” Kosachenko said reports in the German media that Petrov had found new sponsors were not true.

“So far, we haven’t managed to find new sponsors. Where do journalists get this information from? I’m a journalist myself and I know very well how this can just pop into someone’s head,” she said. Russian state company Russian Helicopters and chemicals firm Sibur were Petrov’s chief sponsors last term.

Crash Testing: Topical at this time of year. i posted some footage from a few years ago of crash testing, but this is hot of the press.

Thanks to Petr Hlawiczka for digging this out

Caterham get more realistic: Mike Gascoyne told me pre-season 2012 that this would be the year when Caterham would become ‘irksome’ (I paraphrase) to a number of the established teams. However, it appears he now accepts these and other comments – about how quickly Caterham can progress – were probably a little rash.

“Of course, you talk a good story and there were times last year where we were pretty close, but you have got to be realistic. For a new team now to come into F1 and survive and build up and build a group, such as Caterham, it is pretty difficult. The sustainability of Caterham was always [based on] building up a group and, even though I started [at] the F1 team, there is really no surprise that I am now running the automotive side of it as, ultimately, that is where our survival is. F1 does not pay.”

And Caterham’s targets in F1 are now more realistic for the following funding reasons Mike explains. “Maintaining our position as a tenth place team will be the priority, but what is important is the automotive development of the Caterham Group. If the group is profitable, then the F1 project will have a long-term future, and that is where my interest and expertise is. Moving to Leafield is great news, great facilities, we will build it up slowly to make sure it is sustainable.”

“You have to be realistic – if you look at the nine teams above us, they have been racing in F1 for 20-30 years plus,” he pointed out, “Lots of teams have come and gone in that time and have failed. Even running off a smaller team budget of around £50-£70 million, which is a huge amount of money, you are probably investing £5 million in capital, but if you look at the costs for wind tunnels and facilities, you are talking about £200-£300 million pounds in equipment there. So for a relatively new team to come in and match that, it is not going to happen.”

After the silence from Todt and the FIA on the F1 doctor matter, I and a few TJ13 readers were strangely longing for the return of Max Moseley. It appears Gascoyne too considers his stewardship principles far better than the present regime.

“In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was an era where it was just a spending war,” he noted, “They have tried to change that and Max Moseley’s spending cap is something I still fully support, because [teams] are still spending near £300 million on going F1 racing for two cars and 20 races. How is that justifiable in a green and socially responsible era?

“If you had twenty Caterhams painted in different colours going round a track, no one would notice – it would probably be a close race, with a great atmosphere and a great noise. You don’t need to spend £300 million, [but] you need to spend £250 million if the next guy is spending £240 million and so on people outspend each other. We should limit it, we need a spending cap. It is madness, [but] while the rule makers are cashing in and making money out of it, it will stay that way.”

However, in case you’re not aware of it Mike, there are lots of weekends and places where we can already see ’20 Caterham’s painted in different colours going round a track –  and even my ageing mother can tell the difference between that and F1 🙂

On this day in F1, Jan 13: A trio of Argentine winners

When doing OTDIF1 during January it has been strange thinking that in days gone by, F1 races were already under way for the new season.

1980 : Buenos Aires was the venue for the first round of the championship and Alan Jones’ win in his Williams Ford set him on his way to that year’s drivers’ championship. Conditions were harsh, and sections of the track had to be relaid overnight after drivers complained it was falling apart during qualifying. It was hardly surprising when the repairs disintegrated from the tenth lap onwards making the surface slippery and 15 cars retired. Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg were second and third respectively, both standing on the podium for the first time, while Derek Daley took a career-best fourth.

I understand what an ex-team boss meant when he told me ‘before Bernie – we were racing in fields’. Amazing how Villeneuve stands a few feet from the kerb watching cars still racing pass him before he crosses the road.

1957 : Local delight as Juan Manual Fangio, driving a Maserati, won the season-opener in Argentina on course for his fifth and final world title. Stirling Moss put his Maserati on pole position, but lost ten laps when the throttle linkage broke as he made a juddering start from the grid. Only Fangio and Jean Behra, who came second, finished all 100 laps as Maseratis took the first four places. Peter Collins, who led early on, was forced to retire a quarter of the way through with clutch problems. With the exception of one old Ferrari 500, all cars that took part were either Maserati 250Fs or Lancia Ferrari 801s.

1974 : Former world champion Denny Hulme, who had announced his decision to retire at the end of the season a few weeks earlier, won the season-opening Argentina Grand Prix, his last F1 victory. It did not go down well with a huge 120,000 crowd, including President Peron, which for 50 of the 53 laps had cheered local hero Carlos Reutemann before he was forced to retire. Reliability was a major worry as only six of the 26 starters completed the race.

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6 responses to “Kovalainen out of Caterham, Di Resta breaks rank over Force India driver selection, Caterham targets more realistic

  1. All the autosport international videos are a good watch, John Surtees especially,hje knows what he’s talking about

  2. What’s this supposed tweet which Kovalainen deleted? I’m surprised because he just said to Autosport the team was trying to find a solution to keep him.

  3. So it seems the two Airline boys can’t decide who will drive their respective cars. Four very valuable seats it seens. I guess they will be milking every single last cent from any prospective driver given they are in the position of power.

    Good bye Heikki, Jaime, Kamui, Adrian and maybe Vitaly and Paul. You can join Nick, Anthony, Vitantonio, Taku, Jarno etc. It has been very nice knowing you. All pretty talented.

    Maybe head over to Indy Car with Sato and Power. At least you’ll be paid a salary and have a real chance to win given similar spec cars.

    I think I’d rather race to potentially win in Indy Car and earn a nice income then race for either of the Airline boys to be treated like a cash cow, pay the staffs wages, have no chance to do well, and then be treated like garbage, publically chastised and finally replaced by useless youngsters who are willing to part with huge dollars thanks to either a government or the backing of a big corporation due to family or nationality. If you can get a drive in a top 6 team in F1, great. If you can’t, go to another series.

    • Just remembered it’s three available airline seats. Pic is confirmed for an Air Asia airline seat.

  4. Pretty sure di Resta’s comments on MS meant “he’s a pita to overtake”, etc. Not “he’s Mr Magoo”. But I’m also pretty sure comprehension is no longer taught in schools anymore, so I’m not surprised at some “twits'” reactions.

  5. Pingback: Maldonado out, Magnussen in: A refreshing change… | TORQUE F1·

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