Breaking News: Monday 11th March 2013

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.

untitledHe 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

untitledMichael 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.

untitled“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.

untitledThe 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.

untitledThe 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.

untitledThe 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.

untitledMelbourne 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.”

McLaren-Honda 2015


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.”

untitledFurther 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.

untitledOne 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.”

untitledInteresting 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.”

untitledWhen 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.

untitledSuzi 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.”

untitledYet 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..

Final rites

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.

untitledThe 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.

18 responses to “Breaking News: Monday 11th March 2013

  1. I hope for Toto that he won’t be forced into a sale of his Williams F1 shareholding anytime soon as shares are trading at the lowest value since his announcement to move to Mercedes…

    • Hmm, yeah, that’s quite a dip going on there. A few nice malts I’ll not as a result be buying. But I was still in when WGPH was being trash talked rotten by certain factions, so sitting pretty. I thought that such blatant manipulation as warrants a investigation. Not naming names, but I reckon everyone who drops in here will have a very good idea who what where and why.

      I think there’s a whole lot more than your usual shenanigans going on lately.

      Problem is, the message to Williams also translates as a discouragement to any new smart CEO level talent with a back bone.

      I can’t yet make out Toto Wolff, though his longer recent interview presaged these boardroom / shareholder concerns, and I said so, at the other place.

      Me, I’m betting on the boys and girls in Grove, not the board composition. A bit Solidarity, but money where mouth is, and I believe if they crack on all will be good. Funny thing about engineering firms, they can make stuff without the suits . .

      I don’t look very often at the share price, haven’t for weeks ’till now. I’ve no view except the company is not going to fall apart any time soon, and does interesting things.

      My wider view, however, is there are not enough Firms Wot Build Good Stuff (Zoolander voice, there) getting quotations. The VC / PE bovifecalverse having cornered what was once at fair game for a normal investor to play.

      • It always amused me that anyone would think that a company that is always begging for money (as almost all F1 teams are) would be a good investment. The team was almost out the back door in 06 and 07. Other than buying for the sentimentality or novelty and putting them away in ones digital drawer, it boggles the mind that anyone could consider an f1 team, and this one in particular, a profitable investment. The whole F1 model is a vacuum for money. Each F1 team are mini vacuumes. The profiteers are CVC and the aero specialists who get to make toy after toy after toy after toy yearlong to see if they can make their cars faster. Even the drivers, as a whole, have to pay or bring payment for their seats. One big vacuum and the stock is another mechanism to suck in more capital. The only thing I’d buy stock in, if plc, is CVC. And only when MrE moves on.

        • Well CVC have got rid of most of their F1/FOM/Delta Prefco/Delta Topco stock now, so they either see trouble coming with Bernie’s legal problems or or a lack of profit looming. I am also pretty sure that the EU commission’s ruling is either being broken or bent, with the new distribution of power.

          Basically if/when Bernie goes, no one will be able to make such profitable deals ever again and retain control from a minority position.

          • That’s true, but F1 has been the exception. They’ve held F1 since 2005 and have sold less than half of their stake.

            There is a maximum percentage they are allowed to sell under the FIA agreement – or the rights can be revoked.

          • Do not forget what Marussia are scratching away at. It looks like a petty technical squabble, but the entirety of F1 commercially is centered on image rights. (I exaggerate, but it’s a point of control that is extremely important) There has been a lot more case law on this lately, which I plan to read up. Now, a judge is required in commerce to look at equitable decisions, so I am not sure this is a deadly precision shot at the CA, but it’s potentially a approach to start unraveling the chain of rights. I am sure Marussia has made some friends down the paddock, as a result of their argument.

  2. Jenson clearly a much more marketable man! Santandaer can’t have been too happy about Perez, with inferior English and appeal to the UK market, replacing Hamilton. Especially when they already have Alonso to market to the Spanish speaking world.

    • I think the Santander ad is worse than the one that Schumacher had taken off air because he was unhappy with the dubbed German accent which was used instead of his own voice in the (Loreal ?) advert.

  3. Re: “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?”

    At Mercedes, Lewis sought two important concessions that McLaren were unwilling to give him.
    1. Keep originals of trophies that he wins.
    2. Do his own marketing.
    That is where he gets added value, even though the fee/salary that Mercedes paid may have been similar or less than that offered by McLaren.

    • It was less about those minor concessions and more about Mclaren and Lewis becoming more and more fed up with each other. Ron Dennis made it clear that Lewis couldn’t continue within the team given his actions, and Lewis was clearly frustrated with the team structure and the fact that he wasn’t the number one driver golden child any more given Button’s 2011 performance.

      • Fair comment. But they didn’t have simultaneous thought…

        Plus all the angst Lewis suffered with his subsequent comments about going back in the future…popping in for dinner… Sabbaticals etc…

        Sent from my iPhone

  4. A note on Suzie Perry.
    A very good sports presenter. asks the right questions at the right time. Can she keep ej honnest. I don’t know.

    If she can get the rappor with the drivers and teams to have the insight that jake would of had. Well if its anything like when she did moto gp and sbk before that. Drivers will be doing anything she asked.

    • I think she’ll do fine with the drivers etc – its the DC/EJ rapport that will be more difficult.

      Jake was a newbie – but then again the BBC had just regained the F1 broadcast rights – so it was all kind of new.

  5. Just my two cents but I think the Santander advert is the result of ‘dumbing-down’… and will appeal to all Twitter members UNDER 14… 🙂 😀
    As few of them will have mortgages, etc., it’s money down the toilet…
    Unless J(oJ) knows better… 😉

    • The 14 year old me would have scoffed at all this, BJF! I would have been seriously unimpressed. Fair admission I was a geek, but a geek with hormones and doing anything and everything about that, and I’d have thought that ad utterly lame. That boy’s suit is horrendous, I’d have dismissed him as not serious on that count alone. Yeah, even at 14. Not to mention his vacant expression. And the girl with tied back hair, yeuch! Always makes the face look tense, I like girls with flowing locks. Oh, dea, better stop before I get started . . but this ad screams to me nothing but mediocrity of callow youth who as a boy I would not have wanted to emulate.

      However .. and there’s always a however, the current gen of graduates are increasingly a bad bet. Heavily indebted, over papered with qualifications of questionable value, and relatively speaking, really less enamored of the adult world than usual. (I think that goes through 3 gens before it returns, like my Uncle would pull out a 30yr old suit and declare with a cheery smile, “Vests are back again!”)

      So I think it’s a indoctrination ad. They are trying, not very well in my view, to line up their next gen suckers.

      So, basically, money down the toilet, as you say, Black Jack Fan. I must take my hats off to who pitched the spot and airtime – nice sale, no doubt pleasant comm% from that.

      Banks always did this. The Portman Building Society plied me with really nice wildlife calendars. (I did mention I was a geek, right?) and there are many other small ways they bribe kiddos to remember them when they grow up. (My first adult interaction with the Portman was to close the account, because they paid lousy interest, but well, maybe that’s me.)

      You may also take this as a early reaction to the likes of Vince Cable arguing for primary education in finance to be curriculum compulsory. That probably has a lot of people very scared.

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