Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 9th March 2013

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A busy time in Paris

not only did we get the official calendar for 2013 from  the FIA Council yesterday, but they offered up a draft calendar for the new 2014 FIA Formula E Championship – to be run in city centres across the world.

10 races are targeted with 10 teams and 2 drivers with 2 cars each. There will be 2 compulsory pit stops per driver, with him jumping out of one car and into the next. One of the cars must be charged during the 45 minute race.

Proposed cities now include London, Rome, Los Angeles, Miami, Beijing, Putrajaya, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, but most are not signed sealed and delivered in ink.

We have 1 team declared as yet so there is much to do to deliver this championship in time for 2014.

untitledOn a roll, the Council has also announced the composition of a Drivers’ commission which will be presided over by Emerson Fittipaldi. This will apparently represent the rights and interests of the drivers. There will be a total of 14 members, including Vice-President Sébastien Loeb, Nigel Mansell, Karun Chandhok, Maria de Villota, Emanuele Pirro, Yvan Muller, Adrian Fernandez, Nasser Al Attiyah, Marcus Grönholm, Daniel Elena, Kenneth Hansen, Danilo Rossi and Keiko Ihara.

As if to go the extra mile to impress us, the Council made a 4th announcement of the inaugural FIA Sport Conference Week. This will be a forum for stakeholders in general to examine how to best develop global motorsport. The first event is at Goodwood between June 25 and 28.

New Jersey back on track for 2014

I’m wary of these kind of announcements, however Leo Hindery has declared matters are now on schedule to deliver the race for the 2014 calendar.

Manhattan was to be the backdrop across the Hudson river for the New Jersey race this year, however organisers apparently fell behind their programme of road upgrades and the necessary permits for construction.

Hindery told Sports Business Daily: “I think that Bernie (Ecclestone) made absolutely the right decision (to delay)” but adding, “We are back under construction.

untitledWe have the consents in place that we didn’t have last fall, and we will quite comfortably put the race on, now probably in the mid-year of 2014 with (Ecclestone’s) support.”

If memory serves me correctly there was some suspicion that beurocracy and inefficient planning may have been a smoke screen for troubles more fundamental to the project. There were rumours that the financing was not in place and hence the rest was irrelevant.

Until we hear Ecclestone declare he is happy with the funding of the project and collects his brown envelope marked FOM with $30-40m inside – I for one will not be holding my breath.

Lewis was pushed

I did a number of articles in September 2012 about this and a certain member of the McLaren team was commenting on the site suggesting it was rubbish.

Lewis did an interview with SKY F1 for UK viewers, and stark as can be, he compared Mercedes to McLaren as follows. “It’s now nice to be somewhere where you’re really wanted”. He was pushed…

Cape Town say no to Ecclestone

It was merely a few days ago we heard Bernie talking up an F1 race in South africa. he claimed they have been offered Durban but would prefer Cape Town.

untitledWell the Cape Town city council has sent a resounded message to F1 – and that is No. They recognise the punitive cost suffered by Melbourne and Singapore in erecting a temporary street circuit and the disruption that would be inflicted on the residents and business.

So FOM’s marketing team that usually persuades regions and countries of the untold treasures and $billions of inward cash that flows to those who host F1 – has a big FAIL against their endeavours.

F1 global trek begins

So we’re looking at the pictures of the 6 Jumbo Jets being loaded and starting the F1 globe trot for 2013. This year with 19 races we begin in Melbourne and finish in Sao Paulo and will travel 81,439 kilometres.

untitledThat distance is the equivalent of circumnavigating the planet more than twice. The 19 races will see the V8 powered prototype cars compete over 5814Km, so for every kilometre of racing, the travelling F1 circus 14 times as many.

The shortest journey is from Barcelona to Monaco, a mere 503km and the longest is from Abu Dhabi to Austin which is an enormous 3,256km.

DRS delivers

The subject of DRS has divided F1 fans since its introduction. Those in favour point to dull processional races of recent modern times where cars clearly quicker than the one they were behind were unable to overtake.

This phenomenon has been exacerbated by the increasing focus on aero design solutions to create grip. So the ever increasing array of slats, gurneys, diffusers etc contribute to creating disrupted air flows behind the car – ‘dirty air’ aero devices used in the design of modern cars.

Statistics demonstrate that DRS assisted passes were credited with less than 50% of the total F1 passes in 2012. Damon Hill observes “I think it’s an interesting device because there’s a bit of a thrill when someone gets within that DRS zone and suddenly shoots past the car in front of them.

We haven’t seen enough of people re-taking their place, so I would say that what it has done is meant that, when a car is in striking distance, it doesn’t get held up and is enabling cars to come through the field rather than increasing the dicing.

untitledThe issue with these cars, they way they’re designed, is always going to be that they’re so reliant on the grip from their wings, so that precludes them from going wheel-to-wheel through the corners, which is really what people want to see.”

Such has been the success of DRS, other motorsports series are looking at adopting versions of this concept. DTM have recently been discussing incorporating the technology into their regulations.

The use of DRS in 2013 will be fascinating to see. In 2012, Ferrari were slow in qualifying but much quicker in the race. This was because the use of DRS was unlimited in qualifying and the Ferrari system wasn’t up to scratch.

DRS will only be used in the DRS zones in all F1 track sessions in 2013, so it limits any differential between the teams different solutions on the flying lap that decides the grid.

FIA: Don’t do what we do – but do what we say

Further embarrassment for the FIA who many F1 fans think is a decadent and out of touch organization – primarily run by those who have earned the grace and favour of the world motorsport elite.

untitledToday it has come to light that vice president Carlos Gracia has had his driving license suspended following a conviction for drink driving.

“I made a mistake one day. I went out to celebrate my sister’s birthday and had one drink too many. The police stopped me. I hadn’t had an accident but I was over the limit and they took away my license”, Garcia told radio station ‘Cadena Hope’.

Garcia was the representative the FIA sent to Bahrain in 2011 to ensure that all was well following worldwide condemnation had brought pressure on F1 to cancel their race weekend in the GulfState.

Gracia returned from his ‘investigations’ insisting he could see no reasons why the race weekend should not go ahead. Max Moseley criticized the FIA and Garcia,

“The problem was they sent someone to look at Bahrain but the gentleman they sent, a very, very nice man called Gracia, speaks no English and, as far as I know, speaks no Arabic. He was then taken around by the representatives of the government and had no knowledge of what was really going on, and above all he didn’t ask to see the people who a human rights lawyer would like to see”.

untitledGarcia had supposedly spoken to ‘opposition groups’ but Moseley revealed, “Apparently they are very close to the government and I don’t think he would have been allowed to speak to them if not.”

During the 2007 series when Alonso and Hamilton both raced for McLaren, Garcia suggested to the FIA that the team from Woking would be inappropriately favouring Lewis Hamilton in the run in for the title over their Spanish driver Alonso.

Gracia told Spanish publication AS, “I showed my concern over the situation that Fernando is going through, which is no secret, and he [Max Mosely] reassured me. The FIA are going to have an official who is going to watch very closely that nothing bad happens to Fernando, above all in qualifying, which is where there have been most complaints or strange situations in recent races.”

In the days following the race Garcia was asked his opinion on the level of support British fans were giving to Hamilton. He was alleged to have said, “It’s understandable that they want to make the most of it. But given how racist they are in England, the fact that they have to rely on a coloured driver… They tried it with (Jenson) Button and he let them down.”

untitledGarcia has had his driving license suspended previously in 1996 and in 2003. Is this just another example of the hypocrisy and irrelevance of the FIA who are presently campaigning across the globe for road safety and a curb on drink driving?


3 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 9th March 2013

  1. Hi. I am from Cape Town and we would love to host the race.But as residents we agree with out council that we shouldnt host it with the huge losses that we as a city are likely to incur.

    Earlier this year, the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament was held in SA and Cape Town refused to be a host city as the numbers did not add up-so we would have lost millions of dollars. (the games were changed last minute to South Africa as Libya could not host as planned)

    Oh I cant wait for the day that Mr Big is gone and a more robust and equitable business model is put in place for the hosts of Grand Prix races-then im sure that Cape will welcome F1 with wide open arms.

    • Great to hear from you H

      And F1 needs more cities like Cape Town to point out the absurdities of the current F1 hosting fees model – when there’s no where new to go – a rethink becomes uavoidable.

    • H – Welcome! Good to see a South African on here, spread the good word 🙂

      I can remember the days I used to race at Killarney and we were talking about how great it would be to have a race in Cape Town. But the cost is astronomical to host these races and if you want to fork out R274m, I can imagine what will happen politically if the Western Cape government spent money on what could be perceived as an elitest sport. TJ13 did a very good article (IMHO) about what an alternative finance model for F1 could look like – if you’ve not read it yet have a read – http://thejudge13.com/2013/02/17/global-premier-racing-in-an-alternative-universe/

      Out of interest though, do you know what it cost to host the Football World Cup in 2010 and what the financial benefit to South Africa and Cape Town was?

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