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Maldonado’s Sponsor dies
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has lost his two-year battle with cancer, it was announced today. Chavez spent the bulk of his final months in Cuba, undergoing medical treatment and returned to Venezuela only last week.
News of Chavez’ death was confirmed by Venezuelan vice president – and chosen successor – Nicolas Maduro. In his remarks, Maduro alleged that Chavez’ cancer had been the result of a plot by the controversial South American leader’s enemies.
Some argue whilst this seems a far-fetched notion at first glance, CIA assassination through targeted cancers was a popular conspiracy theory in the 1970s and ’80s, and has been blamed for the deaths of a number of public figures in South and Central America throughout the years.
Venezuelan law sees head of Congress Diosdado Cabello take on the role of interim president while elections are organised. Given Chavez’ popularity at the time of his death, it is highly unlikely that Maduro will lose the seat, although he will not be running uncontested.
Chavez as head of the nationalised oil industry has sponsored Pastor to the tune of some $35-40m a year. This is nearly 50% of the Williams team budget.
Pastor tweeted tonight, “I ask everyone what Venezuelans UNION, follow the example and fight for our future infinitely. Long live our Chavez Commander X always.”
One would imagine Williams have been paid for this years contract, but as TJ13 has previously reported, this is the year Maldonado must prove himself – or else.
Renault return to Le Mans
French sources claim Renault is poised to return to sportscar competition according to French sources. Their partnership will be with the Signatech team as an LMP2 engine provider under the Renaultsport ‘Alpine’ brand.
Renault have agreed a deal with caterham to launch ‘Alpine’ road sportscars later this year. It is probale that Renault will provide engine support for LMP1 in 2014 using a modified version of their F1 V6 Turbo engine.
Nissan currently is the force to beat in LMP2 with their the VK45DE engine, and they too are expected to launch an LMP1 engine in the near future.
McLaren Honda partnership not before 2016
Martin Whitmarsh has scuppered the rumours that Honda and Mclaren are to renew their partnership in the near future. “What I can say is that for 2013, 2014 and 2015, we have an engine contract with our longtime partner Mercedes-Benz.”
There are those who are suggesting the Mercedes relationship is on the rocks, but Whitmarsh counters this notion saying, “We have a healthy and long relationship with Mercedes-Benz and this is our focus for now. Who knows what the long term will bring.”
However, as chairman of FOTA, Martin is keen to welcome new engine manufacturers in Formula 1. “There is a lot of speculation about new engine suppliers. I hear Porsche, Hyundai, Honda and all sorts of names associated with F1 engines.
For Formula 1, I hope these manufacturers return, we need them. Currently we have Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari. We need more engine suppliers,” a most clear message from Whitmarsh.
BBC to air F1 practive live
The BBC today unveiled their F1 team and finalised broadcasting schedule for 2013.
We already know the 3 amigo’s are no more, and Eddie Jordan (chief analyst) and David Coulthard (expert commentator) will now be joined by Suzi Perry as anchor.
Ben Edwards continues as lead commentaor ex-F1 and Le Mans driver Allan McNish joins the team on BBC Radio 5 Live where he will take on an analyst role alongside the existing team of James Allen and Jennie Gow.
Tom Clarkson joins the team as a pit-lane reporter alongside Lee McKenzie. He deputised for Lee McKenzie in 2012 when she anchored the highlights coverage and has been part of the BBC team working as co-commentator alongside David Croft for BBC Radio 5 Live in Korea 2010, commentating on the first practice session.
Clarkson like James Allen also worked for Australian channel TEN in 2012.
Gary Anderson (technical analyst) will continue to write and report for the BBC across all platforms.
The F1 Forum will continue on the Red Button but only after each live BBC race.
“Everyone on the BBC team is hugely excited about the new season,” the BBC’s head of F1 said. “Last year saw us rise to the challenge of bringing the action to fans through the mix of live television and highlights, delivering great programmes which were reflected in impressive audience figures.
“This year sees new faces, practice on BBC2 & BBC2 HD on live race weekends and a greater sharing of talent across BBC television, radio and online.
“With Suzi Perry at the helm, we’re aiming to bring even more content, insight and access to audiences throughout the season.”
Force India rack up the losses
Force India’s latest financial statements show that its costs increased 11% to £85.1m in the year-ending 31 December 2011. Further, the indicate a fall of £1.9m drop in revenue to £46.6m and although costs increased, the net loss narrowed by £1m to £25.7m thanks to an £11m tax credit.
In 2012 the team finished seventh out of the 12 teams last year and thus netted it an estimated $53m of prize money
It was Force India’s previous strong performance on track that convinced Sahara to invest in the team. In October 2011 it paid $100m for a 50% stake in the team which it now jointly owns with Mallya. Kingfisher has estimated debts of $2.5bn and last month a criminal complaint was filed against Mallya in India over non-payment of income tax contributions for its employees.
The airline has been grounded since October when staff refused to fly having not been paid since March. It looks unlikely that it will take off again as last month India’s ministry of civil aviation withdrew Kingfisher’s international flying rights and domestic slots.
Storm clouds have also gathered around Sahara. The Securities and Exchange Board of India recently froze more than 100 bank accounts of two of its companies after claiming that the group had failed to repay an estimated 30m investors in the region of $3bn which it raised in 2008.
FTSE 100 drinks giant Diageo will pay £1.3bn to buy United Spirits however it is uncertain whether Whyte & Mackay will remain a sponsor of Force India. In 2011 the amount Whyte & Mackay spent on sponsorship of Force India was slashed by £3.2m to £620,000. Kingfisher’s contribution plummeted by £5.5m to £485,000.
According to the daily news in the four years since Mallya took over the team, it has burned its way through net losses of £126.1m and that is before the spend and losses in 2012.
So Bob Builder of fast cars is right, the team is dependent on Mallya and Rubrata Roy and for how long will they keep pitching in is the only question.
European F1 TV
Last month it was announced that both Italy and France free to air broadcasters were to lose the rights to broadcast F1 to SKY.
Today Italians have had a UK style reprieve as the former terrestrial channel RAI which has televised F1 in Italy since 1997 has done a deal to broadcast 9 live races in 2013.
As of yet there is no word as to whether French F1 fans will receive a similar concession.