This page will be updated throughout the day as news stories break. Follow @thejudge13 on twitter as each new story will be tweeted when posted.
Wolff appeals to shareholders
TJ13 reported recently that Daimler Benz has received heavy criticism from a number of its institutional investors for running a team in Formula 1. They object to racing in certain countries where human rights are not respected and further at the cost they see as diminishing shareholder value.
Toto Wolff speaks out in defence of the Stuttgart board. Whilst recognising that the views of shareholders should be considered he argues from a cost/value benefit the global car manufacturer will eventually benefit.
He argues F1 is a global sporting platform equal to if not better than the Olympics because ‘the games’ give exposure for sponsors only every four years, “and at the end of the day you will sell more cars”.
Yet matters are not so simple, exposure = car sales, maybe. The Mercedes team was Honda, then Brawn for a year, then Mercedes in joint ownership with Brawn for a year, then Aabar bought out Brawn and now we have Toto and Lauda owning a large chunk of the team.
Wolff recognises that continuity has been a problem for the team and speaking to MotorSport-Total he explains that a ‘clean broom’ may be the answer for the team and that he is trying to set an example. “I spend 16-18 hours a day at the factory”.
When buying into Mercedes, Wolff claimed he was going to retain his 16% interest in the Williams team. However, it appears that somebody has suggested tot Toto he cannot pursue this course of events. “This is not ideal, I need to deal responsibly with the shares. I can not sell to just anybody. I’ll try to resolve this conflict of interest as soon as is possible.”
Schumacher rules out TV punditry
Michael Schumacher has ruled out returning to the Formula One paddock as a television pundit. It appears to be the path that a number of ex-drivers take. In the UK alone we have Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert, Alan McNeish and Damon Hill all signed for regular appearance
Michael tells Bilde, “That would not be my thing. First, things move so fast in Formula One that even I am already a long way behind, and that is not my style.” Indeed an honourable attitude that we wish certain other ex-drivers would recognise.
It appears not only would the Schumacher obsession to ‘know all things’ be too time consuming however his days of travelling the globe may be over as he adds, “Secondly, once again I would be away from my family, and not even having the fun of driving.”
Asked what he would be doing when the cars line up on the Melbourne grid next weekend, Schumacher answered: “At home, watching TV.”
Red Bull may ditch Renault
Following reports that Renault felt they were not getting enough credit for being the engine supplier to provide the wining power to the last 3 WDC’s and WCC’s their Ambassador Alan Prost speaks out.
“How many people out there know that Renault has won the last three World Championships?” he questioned AMuS? We have to sell ourselves better. People should know what we do and why we do it,” added Prost.”
Yet it could be that this winning partnership could in the future be at risk. Dietrich Mateschitz told Austrian publication Salzburger the team’s Renault engine could be rebranded/replaced, as the title sponsorship with new title partner Infiniti has been ramped up. Mateschitz when questioned said, “Yes, at some point there could be a Red Bull Infiniti.”
It is the tradition for the teams to have the engine supplier name after the team name. At present the team is Infiniti Red Bull Racing – Renault.
Pirelli and Melbourne
In a press release today Paul Hembury of Pirelli informs us,
“After 12 days of pre-season testing we finally get to go racing with our 2013 compounds. They were developed over the course of the last season in private testing and they are the most focussed and performance-orientated tyres we have ever made. Cold weather conditions during pre-season testing meant that we weren’t able to showcase them to the best of their abilities, but we are expecting a different story in Albert Park, with two to three pit stops per car.
The start of any new season is always a very exciting time and from what we have observed during pre-season testing the field seems to be closer than ever: quite an achievement when you consider that we had seven different winners from the first seven races last year.
All the compounds and constructions have changed for 2013, and the drivers should notice a wider working range and a bigger window of peak performance. The performance gaps between the compounds are also larger, which means that teams have a greater opportunity to use strategy to their advantage by exploiting the consequent speed differentials.”
The tyre from a circuit point of view:
With all the compounds having become softer this year, the medium and the supersoft were chosen in Australia to give the teams a challenge in terms of tyre management and strategy, in accordance with Pirelli’s brief from the teams themselves and Formula One’s promoters.
The P Zero White medium tyre is ideal for circuits with lower ambient temperatures and not particularly aggressive asphalt, such as Melbourne. Its durability characteristics are very similar to those of last year’s soft tyre, resulting in lap times that are around 0.8s quicker than the 2012-specification medium.
The P Zero Red supersoft has been designed to come up to temperature quickly and it is ideal when it comes to delivering maximum performance instantly on a twisty and slow-speed circuit. Last year, the medium and soft compounds were chosen for the Australian Grand Prix, with the top seven drivers adopting a two-stop strategy.
Interpreting the tyres for Melbourne
Acceleration and braking are the keys to a good performance in Melbourne, with the longitudinal forces at work on the tyres being greater than the lateral forces. The improved combined traction of the P Zero tyres this year marks a significant step forward in this area.
Melbourne has hosted a number of wet races in the past: last year’s Friday’s free practice sessions were held in wet weather. Pirelli is bringing a new-specification of Cinturato Green intermediate and Cinturato Blue full wet tyre to Australia, which has a redesigned construction to help improve traction and prevent snap oversteer
The left-rear tyre works hardest in Melbourne, with 10 right-hand corners and six left-hand corners.
The 5.303-kilometre Albert Park circuit is not used outside of the Australian Grand Prix, which means that it is extremely ‘green’ and slippery on Friday in particular. But the faster warm-up time of Pirelli’s 2013 tyres should help drivers find grip more quickly.
Hulk new powers
Not that he’d admit his eyesight wasn’t up to scratch, but Swiss publication Blick reports Nico Hulkenberg has had laser eye surgery to replace the need for contact lenses. Nico comments, “I had no problem with contact lenses, but this makes things easier.”
Last week Martin Whitmarsh told SKY that they had a contract with Mercedes for 2014 and 2015 to supply the Woking based team with engines. TJ13 reported that it was believed the 2014 and 2015 element of the contract was in the form of options which McLaren had negotiated.
When asked today whether he could confirm that McLaren would be using Mercedes power in both 2014 and 1025, Whitmarsh responded, “I can definitely say that we are with them for some time, we have a contract and we have been talking about it for some time.
There is nothing to announce at the moment. I can’t elaborate any further. We have a contract that covers the next three seasons at the moment and we will certainly go into next year with Mercedes-Benz. We have a long and successful partnership with them.”
Further there has been talk of other engine suppliers joining the sport when the V6 Turbo’s are in use. Porsche and VW (Audi) along with Honda have expressed an interest, particularly as the engines in modified forms should be able to be used across other classes of motorsport, such as Le Mans, DTM etc…
Martin commented on this opportunity, “We have read the stories about Porsche, Hyundai and Honda and I think they are to be encouraged. The sport needs new automotive manufacturers to come in and if we can help that in any way, we will do so, but at the moment we are very focused on our partnership [with Mercedes], which has been a very good partnership.
We are going to try and win championships with them in the future.”
Wolff: On Mercedes image and why Lewis joined the team
Toto Wolff is working the Germanic media hard at present and today he has been talking about Lewis Hamilton.
One writer suggested that Hamilton and the Daimler-Benz Group were poles apart in terms of image. Daimler has been traditionally for the middle/upper classes, a marquee out of reach for the masses; and a company that provides fleets of vehicles to diplomats and governments across the world.
In contrast, the reporter observed that Lewis is an ‘enfant terrible’. He gave examples of Hamilton pictured by the paparazzi partying in the Hotel lobby with a dozen women, flaunting his tattoo’s in the media, identifying with the ideas of hip-hop and tweeting his team’s telemetry.
Wolff surprisingly rejected the image of Mercedes, stating “We at Mercedes do not want to be conservative any more, the new cars that are coming, are cars for the young and sporty.”
Interesting idea. Are we to expect the new Mercedes cars to some pre-loaded with tunes from Kid Cudi, Bow Wow and Drake? Maybe the boot (trunk for USA readers) where the golf clubs were once placed will now be just one giant mega super woofer sound blaster.
Toto then went on to persuade his audience of his new found impression of Lewis’ empathetic nature and sensitivity to his employer.
“Within a few days in the new job, he knew the names of all 50 team members and he strives to reach out to the people. What is conveyed in the media is not at all how it really is”.
There has been a rumour in Germany that the Hamilton switch from McLaren to Mercedes was done under obligation by Woking to facilitate engine supply. Wolff dismisses “McLaren are a customer of ours and hopefully will be for a long time.”
When asked why he thought Hamilton had then moved teams Wolf said, “All drivers know that they have a limited time in which they can earn top money. They have to maximise this which is quite natural and why should Lewis do anything else?” On reflection Toto then added that Lewis believed in the challenge of turning around the Brackley teams fortunes and that they will be strong with the 2014 V6 Turbo engines.
Funny how the truth will always out. I appear to remember ‘We offered Lewis as much money as anyone else’ or words to that effect – you remember by whom?
Santander’s new role for Jenson
What does this say to you TJ13 readers?
Lotus in house marketing
There were rumours of job losses in Enstone last Friday which immediately raises questions as to the stability of the enterprise. However, it appears Lotus F1 may be out-sourcing it’s marketing and hence has made the in house positions redundant.
It was strange that the team’s website does not have the CNBC announcement uploaded, or indeed any other news since 15th Februrary 2013. Speculation is presently that CNBC will be providing this function as part of their contribution to the relationship with Team Lotus F1.
Suzi Perry takes a risk
It is incontrovertible that Suzi Perry is taking a risk accepting the BBC anchor role and filling the shoes of the well liked Jake Humphrey. She has described the job as a “gift from heaven” and is says she is determined to prove her doubters wrong.
The decision to appoint Perry was made in December and it prompted both criticism and comment, much of it focused around her previous role as the presenter of the BBC’s Moto GP show.
Suzi acknowledges this and remarks, “There will be a lot of people who don’t like the fact Jake has left, they might write something horrible even if I do the best job ever. It is just part of social media.”
Talking to the Mirror she adds, “In some respects this is a brave decision by the BBC. In other ways it is a good decision because there is someone completely different to Jake, so I probably won’t be compared to him that much.”
Suzi is known for her leather clad look and boots both on the gadget show and from her time presenting motor cycle racing. She pleads, “I don’t want people talking about what I wear, I’d rather they said, ‘Wasn’t that a great interview Suzi did with Lewis Hamilton?’ not, ‘Where did you get those leathers?’.
There are lots of amazing-looking girls in F1 for people to look at. I don’t think that’s why I’m there.”
The learning curve will indeed be steep as it was for Jake and Suzi confesses “I don’t know how it works. I haven’t been told. It’s been a crazy few months since I got a phone call asking if I would like to come back to BBC Sport.
I went out to the practice sessions in Spain in February because I don’t know the drivers, I’ve only met a few of them in passing at events. In Formula One I have to start again. I wanted as much time as possible to meet people and get a feel for how it works.”
Yet the biggest risk of all is that Perry herself will not be able to cope with the task in hand. In 2010 she quit Moto GP claiming the “balance of life” was wrong due to the amount of travelling the role required
Suzi fronts up to this suggesting, “I’ve had a break for three years and I’m ready to have another go. I’m really not looking forward to the travelling, I did it for 13 years with bikes and I do find it difficult. I can concentrate on the job … a life in Formula One for the next few years, and we will see how it goes. You just have to take the travelling race by race.”
Honesty or blind faith? – only time will tell. Yet I know those who love their roles in F1 but are regularly dragged down by the travelling and time zone changes that a life in Formula 1 demands..
The Indian Government has withdrawn Kingfisher airlines flying slots. The flying license has been revoked for sometime, however the slots (rights to fly certain routes) have been held should Vijay Mallya revive his stricken airline.
Besides operating on domestic routes, Kingfisher also used to operate to Britain (seven flights a week), the UAE (21 flights per week), Thailand (21 weekly flights), Nepal (seven), Bangladesh (14 a week), Sri Lanka (35 per week), Hong Kong (14 a week) and Singapore (7). The withdrawal of these slots has made available approximately 25,000 seats per week for other carriers to these eight countries.
The right to fly these routes has value as last week Indian airline ‘JET’ sold 3 weekly routes from India to Heathrow to the Abu Dhabi-based Etihad for USD 70 million.
A spokesperson for JET said today, “We have applied to the government to acquire six (Kingfisher) slots from Mumbai. Of these, we are looking at four domestic and two international routes.” The carrion eaters are circling closely.