Daily news and comment: Saturday 16th March 2013

This page will be updated throughout Saturday as news stories breaks.

Principals’ FIA press conference

I know more than 50% of TJ13 readers are not from the UK and don’t get this kind of coverage. So here is the FIA F1 Principals’ press conference. This is a lot more civilised than the detention class that was the driver’s press conference on Thursday.

Notice the room was pretty empty compared to the previous days drivers’ FIA press conference.

I quite enjoyed Martin Whitmarsh suppression of a smile when Toto was asked about the ‘goings on’ during the closed season.

Renault boss got a ‘free pass’ when nobody questioned him over the engine mapping issue. This is typical of F1 circus reporters – they fail to ask the big questions all too often.

Whatever Wolff says, it would usually be Ross Brawn who represented the team at these events, though to be fair Norbert Haug did attend a handful of these each year. It will be interesting to see if Ross is appointed as the Mercedes AMG F1 principal for any of the FIA team principal press conferences during the year – or whether he is kept quiet.

Eric – ‘the Galle’ made an interesting and astute point. his suggestion that F1 now has to market itself differently from the days when it was dominated by manufacturers trying to sell cars makes a lot of sense. Toto appeared to agree that the sport needs to change its ways and consider all the participants interests.

This makes me wonder whether Daimler Benz have given some ultimatums. Should McLaren – as it appears likely – go to Honda for engines in 2015 and the AMG F1 team continue as an ‘also ran’ – it may be that the German global manufacturer will withdraw from F1 should they believe they are unable to supply a winning team with engines.

Who could this be?

The BBC is reporting that Oscar-winning film director Ang Lee is branching out into television, after it was announced he will direct the pilot episode of new series, Tyrant.

untitledThe show marks Lee’s first project since the 2012 film Life of Pi, which saw the Taiwanese filmmaker win his second Academy Award last month.

The writers are currently considering who they may model this series upon.

Red Bull sabotage

Sky news is reporting that Red Bull has revealed it has been the victim of a blackmail attempt. The threat is that cans of its energy drink will be contaminated.

The Vienna-based company said the threats started several weeks ago. Marcus Neher of the Salzburg public prosecutor’s office said that “up to now there has only been a claim of contamination”.

untitledRed Bull said in a statement: “This threat is confined to product on sale in Austria. Checks at stores where the perpetrators claimed to have put contaminated goods have found nothing.”

The company added: “We are cooperating closely with the police and share the opinion that we are close to the perpetrators and they will be found. We will be making no further comment while the investigation continues.”

Racing in Bahrain takes its toll on sponsors

The decision of Vodafone to pull out of sponsoring McLaren F1 has sent the speculation machine into overdrive. As one of the biggest ever F1 team sponsors their shoes will be hard to fill.

The company claims it’s decision is due to ‘brand re-allignment’ but The Times claims Vodafone “has been reconsidering its involvement with formula one” since the violent uprising in Bahrain and the continuing participation of F1 racing in the Gulf state.

untitledThe report says many of the biggest “Corporate sponsors such as Vodafone pulled their hospitality plans but could do little to press for the removal of their branding from the cars because of the structure of sponsorship deals.

Vodafone was particularly sensitive to events during the Arab Spring after it was forced by armed forces to shut down its network in Egypt in January 2011 and send out a text message on behalf of the Mubarak government to ‘confront the traitors and criminals’.”

Favourite to replace Vodafone is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s Telmex company. However, the Woking team have been working on some long term projects with GSK that suggest an ever deeper relationship is developing. Rolex and Emirates are also outsiders but in the running to sponsor the second most successful F1 team ever.

Charlie says no extra testing for V6 turbo’s

It has been mooted that the engine manufacturer’s would like some extra testing allowed prior to the 2014 change in engine regulations.

untitledHowever, Charlie Whiting says there will be no extra testing for V6 rules debut. The teams will have to make do with the current test programme early next year.

Russian F1news website quotes Charlie as saying, “We have been talking with the teams, and they do not want to increase the number of test days.”

The FIA senior delegate has spoken out for the first time on in the wake of the Renault engine mapping and Williams exhaust stories and suggests he does not expect any further protestations. He did add whilst smiling, “In the course of a year, you never know what is going to happen.”

Lewis on leaving McLaren  – AGAIN.

I’m not sure this is doing Lewis any good, and Mclaren have been reserved and restrained in their comments on the Hamilton leaving Woking saga. Martin Whitmarsh refrained from criticising Lewis when asked a direct question in the FIA principals’ press conference.

‘Something wasn’t right’ at McLaren, says Lewis to Bilde. “I was thankful that I had a car in which I was able to compete with Sebastian (Vettel) and co. But maybe I had just been with McLaren for too long.

untitledAnyway, I realised that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life there. At Mercedes, everything is new, also the challenge, which is huge. And I’m fine with that. I just needed a change of scenery.”

Time to stop getting sucked into this conversation – Lewis – methinks, otherwise the long knives from McLaren will inevitably emerge – and I know there are those who would be happy to oblige.

More FIA incompetance

The eyes of the world are on F1 for it’s season opener in Australia and leading F1 personnel have been saying recently that this is for sponsors the only truly global sport.

untitledWell the sports governing body, the FIA, famed for it’s champagne parties and fiddling whilst Paris burns, has another huge embarresment to address. It appears that no one bothered to arrive in Melbourne and test the wiring from race control to the cars that tells them whether they are under yellow/blue flag conditions, enables/disables the DRS, provides safety car information and delta times.

It appears the culprits for this state of affairs are evil malicious Melbourne mice who were put up to this treacherous act following F1’s decision to offer joy rides to wealthy punters in a 2 seater Minardi at 07:00 each morning.

Reports from the paddock suggest Melbourne residents are in the most indifferent to F1 and at worst resent the $50m Aussie it costs to host the race. The noise of the Minardi has been registered 10 miles away from Albert park and can be heard right across the city.

Anyway, to the rescue Charlie Whiting has reportedly sent ‘a note’ to the teams explaining how things must be. He is the transcript from the back of the cigarette packet on which it was written.

Due to reliability problems with the telemetry link between race control and the cars we will be disabling this with immediate effect. The consequences for the race will be as follows;

1: None of the red, yellow or blue cockpit lights will work.

2: At the start of the race DRS will be automatically enabled once each car as crossed the Line to complete two laps.

3: There will be no automatic blue flag messages on the Official Messaging System. We will do our best to give as much information from race control as we can, however, it will be even more important that teams do what they can to ensure their drivers respect blue flags.

4: If the safety car is deployed Safety Car Model will have to be selected manually by the driver immediately after he sees either the SC light panels or SC boards being held out by marshals.

5: If the safety car is deployed a message saying “DRS DISABLED” will be displayed, we will however be unable to actually disable it. Therefore, from this point, drivers must not use DRS until the message “DRS ENABLED” is shown two laps after the safety car returns to the pits (due to the layout of the track the “DRS ENABLED” message will be sent when every car has reached the end of the second activation zone before turn 3).

6: If yellow flags or lights are displayed in a DRS activation zone “DRS DISABLED” will be displayed, from this point drivers must not use DRS in the yellow zone until the message “DRS ENABLED” appears.

7: In conditions of poor visibility a message saying “DRS DISABLED” may be displayed, we will however be unable to actually disable it. Therefore, from this point, drivers must not use DRS until the message “DRS ENABLED” is shown.

Charlie says:

In order to allow your drivers to get a chance to acquaint themselves with some of these features we will be running a further test after P3 in exactly the same way as we did after P1 and P2.

Is it time to leave Albert Park

I’ve already alluded to the fact that the residents of Melbourne on the whole are at best indifferent to F1 being in town, yet it is widely known in the paddock the media hate the journey to Australia as do many of the Team personnel (read @F1Kate – ESPNF).

The travel time is 24 hours from Europe and the time difference requires days to adjust to. Now with the Aussie dollar being so strong, hotels are more expensive than Monaco and a cheap bottle of white wine is about £25.

untitledNow SKY’s flagship pre-race programme has been disrupted for a significant period of time due to a power cut at the circuit. There was a total power out at the ageing venue’s International TV compound. I believe this disrupted all the media and some 100 million viewers around the world.

(Having said that, the coverage has just returned and it may be some genius Aussie planned this and was attempting to save us from the painful and tortuous racket that is Johnny Herbet’s droning voice making bland and amateur observations).

Of course Australian F1 fans are some of the most passionate and committed in the world and the turnout for the F1 event is one of the best. TJ13 really enjoys the season opener in Melbourne, but there are many I talk to who believe the writing is on the wall and it just requires to be read.

FOM marketing troubles

It would be surprising if amongst these tales of woe, Bernie was to escape unscathed. His formula1.com website are headline marketing their mobile timing application for £23.99.

This presumably is to replace the excellent Fanvision we now hear was in effect cancelled in January by Ecclestone.

If you click through to buy the application, you see the screen below. There is 1 review that is not at all complementary from a disgruntled customer. FOM really should pay attention to detail.


25 responses to “Daily news and comment: Saturday 16th March 2013

  1. Hi, read on grandprix.com that its macca’s new ecu to blame for the lack drs and other faults, not mice. Bet macca appreciate being blamed for that.

    On a side note Sky+ was rubbish, I know they can adjust the timing schedule to allow for program over runs, even my old VCR could. But instead sky chopped off the end of the program, not impressed. As it is I think the drivers should grow some. I’ve watched f1 for 20 years and I’m pretty sure 20 years ago they’d of just been told to get on with it. It deny’s drivers in poor cars a chance to shine. And on that note jb’s feel in the wet is incredible, picked exactly the right time to go to inters.

    As always your site is a great read

    Nb my bets for this season are (each way I went)

    Kimi 14/1
    Romain 40/1
    Nico 50/1

    • Pitpass is reporting mice too – who knows – What is the case is that the FIA should make a public announcement – same old pathetic ‘behind closed doors’ attitude.to the fans and even the media are unsure.

    • Jamie I could not agree with you more re the drivers needing to get a pair… I know it is dangerous but if that bothers you don’t race! I can remember racing in Formula GTI back in SA on slicks on a drying track. Back straight was manic with my foot to the floor and the backend fishtailing.. but I did not lift (stupid or brave – you decide – but it was loads of fun!)

      Re drivers of poor cars.. look at Jean-Eric.. how well did he do in the wet. I know it was early but his teammate was way down the order in the beginning of Q1 and he was sitting pretty at P2.

  2. It’s actually rats!! The east coast of Australia is experiencing plague proportions at the moment, and they are immune to standard poison. Of course the official word is mice because it sounds better. I will try and get a photo for you before I leave here this weekend

  3. The timing app is excellent, have been using it for years, it’s per year so historical info is not available for first grand prix but will be as of the second…

    • I bought the timing app last year. It is a really good little app, although I only generally used it to follow the free practice sessions when I was out and about. It doesn’t really show that much more than what you can see on the red button during a race if you have Sky.

      As the TV broadcast is delayed by a few seconds, and the timing app data is live, you have to fiddle with it a bit to sync the app to what’s happening on the TV screen (i know, I’m a fussy b*****d). I haven’t decided yet whether to buy it again this year, although I probably will.

  4. Any confirmation of the news about McLaren thinking to race in Malaysia with a Brazil spec MP4-27? Regards,

    • … though Whitmarsh says above – not. Seriously they couldn’t do that… Ferrari were in a similar situation when the began 2012 with the ‘pull rod’ system and Alonso missed out on WDC by 3 points….

      As Toto would say – they’ll be back’ 🙂

  5. I’m seriously grateful for the opportunity to view the Principals’ Conference and… yes, I suppose it was a bit better but… good god…! this is half an hour of presumably prime broadcasting time and overall the boredom is unbearable… Maybe it’s better if you’re actually there but, on Tv, it’s appallingly unprofessional – and excruciatingly dull. Maybe the Principals, being older, were better able to speak but only the Renault chap at the back was innately interesting…! – and Toto was the worst.
    I just query the technical professionalism of the entire ‘production’ – it just isn’t enough, with all the money that’s being spent, which everybody drones on about, to pretend this is the best that Sky can do, especially when the panelists keep complimenting Sky on the increasingly high standard of their output.
    In the audience shot one can see a single camera set up in front of the delegates… Is this REALLY providing the shot we see, because the shot looks like it was done by a mobile-phone set up on a tripod… and ‘locked off’. Why do they not zoom in on the person who is speaking…? Holding this desperately boring, static 5/6-shot is visual rubbish. Why is the cameraman even there…!? And why is he set up so close that he forces himself into a wide-angle lens that causes the people at the rear to look small and even more insignificant…? And also blocks the view of part of the audience, which is usually the main reason the event is taking place…
    Then the lighting…! Bog-standard flat lighting, with the main light over the top of the camera, thus guaranteeing the participants will look dull and boring whoever they are and whatever they say…
    The entire operation is just so amateur… except that is insulting to the thousands of talented amateurs around the world who could do a better job while standing on their heads – because they won’t need to be doing anything else while they are supposedly shooting the thing, and presumably putting ‘Professional Cameraman’ on their CV.
    I find it amazing that throughout all this boring Tv time the people are talking about the high standards we are currently enjoying, and yet also saying they have to make the presentation more exciting…
    The words ‘irony’ and… er… ‘irony’ come to mind. I know many film students (in Britain and Singapore) who could do an infinitely better job, and perhaps more cheaply… and don’t tell me this guy here is doing this on a budget… It doesn’t cost any more to have him zoom in on each participant.

    I am seriously grateful Judge for you taking the trouble to post these things – it is certainly eye-opening – but also disheartening that so many people seem to accept they are getting high(er) quality Tv just because some marketing-moron tells them it is so… and because they have nothing better to judge it by… And presumably Sky get away with it because there’s no one in the FIA who knows any better either.

    Ah well… bring on the racing, and I’ll get out of your hair. Except to say, as I don’t think anybody else has done so yet: Good luck to YOU for 2013 (and beyond) in continuing to bring us all these treasures… I especially liked the Todt-Gnome… Take care in your travels.

      • D_Q: Too nice… 😉
        Many years ago when I was in school and starting to learn French, the textbook involved the family of a ‘cute’ boy called Toto. I’ve no idea if it still exists but could perhaps provide a few quotes for the Judge… He always struck me as a far-too-nice, comic version of Denis the Menace… Or Just William… for some of you… 🙂

    • Re. ” …I just query the technical professionalism of the entire ‘production’ – it just isn’t enough, with all the money that’s being spent, which everybody drones on about, to pretend this is the best that Sky can do, especially when the panelists keep complimenting Sky on the increasingly high standard of their output. … ”

      AFAIK, this is nothing to do with Sky. I believe it is a FOM/FIA production that is fed to all the world media.

      • P King: Thanks for the clarification…
        Forgive me but I don’t know what ‘AFAIK’ means…

  6. The team principals PC have always been much more interesting. The questions are always meatier, and they don’t usually shy away from answering them. They usually try to work in some subtle digs at competitors or the establishment too, which is entertaining.

    I’ve decide I really like Eric boullier. A voice of reason when it comes to money issues in F1.

  7. Regarding Melbourne residents being indifferent to F1: I know someone who lives in Monte Carlo and he told me that most of the residents he knows leave the area during the F1 weekend when the Monaco GP is on. Go figure…

    • Hi Chris: There was a joke in the late 50’s at Monaco. As a result of a 6:00 AM practice session an elderly dowager was disturbed and rang down to reception to ask what on earth is all that racket outside. The receptionist politely replied that it is the Grand Prix, Madame, they are practising for this afternoon’s race… To which she curtly retorted: “Well, if they’re only practising why can’t they do it somewhere else…!”
      Oy vey…! 🙂

      • Hi BJF, I actually heard Sterling Moss tell a very similar story once in an interview, so it may have a grain of truth in it, or he could have perhaps just been telling a tall story 🙂

        • I think I saw it in one of the magazines during Stirling’s ‘era’ but I cannot recall the ‘author’ – but I feel there’s more than a grain of truth in it…

  8. All this technology. Whatever happened to the good old days. The stewards handled the flags. The drivers handled the safety car procedure. Do the drivers need to be baby fed everything. First the qualifiying. Where they can’t run in conditions that were fine to run in 10 years ago. And now they can’t run the prodedures that drivers could do perfectly fine 10 years ago without some stupid ecu. Typical Fia and typical standardized formula 1 now.

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