Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 17th April 2013

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Heikki is back

TJ13 spotted Heikki wandering about the garage back in Sepang chatting away to the team management and Tony Fernandes in article “Post Qualifying Sepang 2013: The ‘off track’ Verdict”.

heiki_sepangExcerpt from TJ13 article: “So today was ‘curioser and curioser’. In the garage was a casually dressed Heikki with a skull and crossbones cufflinked shirt wandering around and chatting at length with Tony and Cyril – all in full view of the suited and helmeted Charles Pic and Giedo VD Garde.

This was no ‘flying’ visit from the Finn – he was clearly there at the behest of the Caterham team management and in lengthy and deep conversations throughout FP3 and then later in the day.

My man has been suggesting this week there is serious consideration being given to returning Heikki to the car. Fernandes has admittedly taken his eye off the ball and is just now realising how badly placed the team is and it also appears that it was Caterham more keen on the merger with Marussia than Marussia were”.

By China the paddock was rife with rumours of Heikki’s imminent return and we now know it to be true. Caterham announced this morning…

Caterham F1 Team has announced that it is restructuring its driver line-up with Heikki Kovalainen rejoining the team as one of the two Reserve Drivers, alongside current Reserve Driver Alexander Rossi who moves to Caterham Racing to compete in the 2013 GP2 Championship in the car raced by Ma Qing Hua at the season opening GP2 race in Malaysia.

Ma Qing Hua, who recently made history by becoming the first Chinese racing driver to take part in an F1 race weekend in China, remains a core member of Caterham F1 Team’s driver roster and an announcement about his revised race plans in 2013 will be made in due course.

Heikki’s first duties will be to take part in FP1 at the forthcoming Grands Prix in Bahrain and Spain. The Finnish driver will take part in the sessions as part of a formal technical development role he is taking up with Caterham F1 Team, helping support the introduction of the first performance updates to the 2013 car, an important milestone in the strategy the team are working to in the current season.

untitledCyril Abiteboul, Team Principal, Caterham F1 Team: “After Ma’s successful run in FP1 in China a number of new opportunities have arisen for him and we have decided to restructure our current line-up. Alexander moves to Caterham Racing to compete in GP2 and I am sure he will be an immediate success in that championship whilst he will continue to enjoy the link with the F1 team throughout the season. Heikki returns to track work with us and we are delighted to welcome him back into the team.

He has six years of F1 experience behind him so he is perfectly placed to provide us objective feedback on the various types of configurations we will run and to give us an objective view of the 2013 tyres against his experience with the 2012 compounds. Having invested in Heikki for our first three years of competition it would be a waste not to leverage the valuable expertise he brings. As F1 is a team sport, he will also provide support to Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde, who are both doing a good job in their first months with the team.”

Heikki Kovalainen: “It’s obviously great news that I’ll be on track in Bahrain and Spain and I’m really looking forward to getting back to work and helping the team as much as I can. I’ll be taking part in the two FP1 sessions in Bahrain and Barcelona to give the team my input on the new parts we’re bringing to those races, and I’ll be working closely with the race drivers and the engineers on track and back at Leafield to help everyone get the most out of the new package.

Tony, Cyril and I have been talking about me taking up this role for quite a while, so it’s good to finally be able to announce how I’ll be helping the team in 2013. I’m physically ready to get back into the car and I know my experience can help give the team new ideas and options for directions to take on setup and strategy. I’m looking forward to getting back to work!”


I’m posting this video NOT because I subscribe to the views of this organisation, I do not; but I was sent the link and having never seen anything from these people before, I was surprised on a number of levels. Let me know your thoughts.

Bahrain race statistics

I believe we’ll be getting Alistair’s usual and excellent circuit profile later, but in the mean time here’s some interesting historic statistics. Following China, there is a surge of opinion that Ferrari now have the best car by some margin and that Bahrain could be a formality for them.

Well, let’s have a look at Fernando’s chances. The race in Bahrain has been held 8 times and won 3 times by Alonso (2005, 06 and 10). On the other 5 occasions Alonso has not fared so well finishing 6th, 5th, 10th, 8th and 7th.

Further, for those who are concerned about Q3 non-runners gaining an advantage over those bothering to set a time – fear not – all the previous winners of the race have come from the front 2 rows and half of the races have been won from pole.

Bahrain has proven to be a circuit where overtaking has been at a premium and even the advent of DRS hardly created a flurry of F1 cars side by side. We do have a second DRS zone this year between turns 9 and 10 and this  may facilitate incremental overtaking – only time will tell.

Someone’s making money hosting a race

It’s not often we are privvy to the value certain organisations place on hosting F1 – so I thought this might be interesting for you.

The Government of Bahrain wanted to know how much money had been brought in by F1 its introduction in 2004 so Sheik Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa (Leader of the Bahrain International Circuit, BIC) formed a working group to provide analysis an information on the matter.

untitledThe group of assembled experts were tasked to consider not just the value from the Grand Prix tickets sold but the spend on accommodation, meals, souvenirs and the spend on nightlife -restaurants and clubs. Apparently during F1 week there are a number of high end parties parties in almost all hotels. They have famous DJ guest appearances from all over the world and many international artists are flown in – this year for example headlining are the well known British quintet “High on Heels.”

Today the ‘Capital Club Bahrain’ – the Kingdom’s premier private business club and member of the ENSHAA group of companies – welcomed Shaikh Salman Bin Isa Al Khalifa who presented the detailed findings of the commissions investigations.

The total cumulative direct economic value derived from F1 from 2005 through 2012 is claimed to be $1,299.15m. Additional economic benefits included the creation of over 3,000 temporary jobs during the GP with almost 400 permanent jobs throughout the year; over 100,000 visitors (15% from Europe and the rest are from GCC countries); hospitality and tourism sectors earn an average of $100-150m; Hotels which partner with BIC experience full occupancy status during the Grand Prix.; 45-50% of Grand Prix visitors use Gulf Air as their primary carrier (25% are overseas and the rest are from GCC).

The projected cumulative media exposure value to sponsors during the Bahrain Grand Prix from 2013-2016 is valued at $848.1m; 17.2% of all global media exposure generated in 2013 was for local brands. 10,000 print media articles worldwide featured Bahrain in 2012. The value of Gulf Air’s global media exposure in 2012 was valued at $22.3m. Bahrain has experienced a 52.9% growth in tourism in the period of 2004-2010.


Tables set for Capital Club Members

A new initiative for 2013, organized by BIC and Bahrain Economic Development Board, called Business in Formula 1, was also announced. It offers a unique initiative for local businesses to attend the Formula 1 Paddock Club.

The Capital Club’s monthly Business Forum series concentrates on topics that affect the business community at large. Thus far in 2013, the Club has featured key industry players to discuss the region’s real estate and oil & gas industries, and most recently, featured H.E. Sameera Rajab, who discussed the role of media in Bahrain.

Todt gives Bahrain a body swerve

It has just been announced that Jean Todt will not attend this weekend’s controversial Bahrain Grand Prix but FIA officials have already played down the significance of his absence. A spokesman for the International Automobile Federation (FIA) said the Frenchman had never had Bahrain on his schedule after being at the first two races of the season in Australia and Malaysia.

untitledDamon Hill criticised Todt last week for failing to clarify his position on the Bahraini issue. “The question really is whether or not F1 going to Bahrain is actually going to be viewed as endorsing the further brutal repression of people. (Last year) I took the view that the sport and its governing body should be ensuring that they are not hijacked for the wrong reasons. I’m not entirely sure that they’ve cleared that point to be honest.”

Hill says he merely wanted some from Todt and whether indeed F1 as a sport were supporting the Bahraini regime or not. “He has not said anything that has distanced the sport from things it would find distasteful and upsetting, which I believe everybody in the sport would actually like to do.”


Working hard to drum up support

Kevin Eason in the Times writes, “When it may have been politically expedient to be visible as F1 and its millions of fans need reassurance before what will be the most politically febrile grand prix of the year, Todt will be invisible again.”

In the Guardian Paul Weaver said that “as Formula One cries out for leadership there is complete silence from the FIA’s Paris headquarters” adding the FIA “is impotent in its most urgent hour”.

What I found amusing is that the FIA media people are quietly suggesting Todt is focusing on his re-election campaign as the reason he will not be in Bahrain. The dirty business of campaigning is now raised to a laudable status…



19 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Wednesday 17th April 2013

  1. re. “… having never seen anything from these people before, I was surprised on a number of levels.”

    Can you give us two or three examples of what you found surprising?

    I found it completely unsurprising.

    • It was very sinister – I’ve heard ‘Anonymous’ mentioned previously in TV News reports – rightly or wrongly I had an impression that they were like a bunch of kids cyber hacking big bad multinationals – on the side of the little people.

      Maybe I wasn’t paying proper attention.

  2. interesting that they look upon getting the race cancelled before as a victory. Press coverage of the situation over there is the only thing that can help their fight for ‘justice’. Somewhat backward logic…

    • I guess it’s similar to the ‘international sanctions’ approach when the UN/US decide some rogue nation is being naughty – strangle the economic opportunities and bring them to heel and if we believe which old Salman Al-Khalifa – that’s some $200m a year.

  3. also, a bit of a kick in the teeth for Giedo vdG and Charles Pic. An indirect statement to say we don’t trust their opinion fully! What are the chances of one of them leaving during the August break?

    • If not before…! If Heikki is immediately able to go markedly faster than the other two Fernandes will surely have to make changes. Really it’s one in the eye of Fernandez. The other two drivers are very new and inexperienced and if something doesn’t happen with Caterham soon the whole thing could end by the August break – which will be tragic for F1…

      • Although Pic has already had a year in F1, giving Timo Glock a run for his money.

        Why not have a restructured F1 where there are 2 development teams at the back of the field…where people like Bianchi could prove their worth?

      • I went on record when I returned from Jerez and stated Caterham were in big trouble – a certain other F1 writer with links to the team has poo poo’d this idea.

        I guess when all you do is listen to the organ grinder he’ll tell you anything. Try asking the monkey how life really is

        To recall their sacked driver after 3 races is shambolic to say the least – and that shambolic image is a reflection of what is going on behind closed factory doors and inside the team.

        Much as I like Heikki, he is not the fix that the team require…

  4. Well it’s nice to see some mainstream journalists picking up on my “Todt the invisible” as I started calling him in various blogs over a year ago, even if he is only writing in a Murdoch rag.
    I have often thought that Todt should let his girlfriend take over, as we know she can “kick ass” from her film career, whilst his charisma got left behind when he left Ferrari.
    But she remains a sleeping dragon to his hidden tiger. Unfortunately there seems to be no opposition to his re-election, what a pity Max is not standing.

  5. When Todt was elected, I wasn’t convinced (purely because of his Ex-Ferrari connections, whereas Vattinen did not have any links). Then came his idea (correct me if i’m wrong) with the driver steward at each race weekend. I changed my opinion then, thinking he might actually be a good head of FIA … and I don’t know anything that he has done since. Now i’m unconvinced that he is a fit head of FIA. As rpaco says, there worryingly seems to be no opposition.

    • anyone you could resonably think to replace him?

      Perhaps Ross Brawn when he gets ousted at the end of this season?

      • Maybe Brawn. What about Adam Parr? Although Bernie will be off sooner rather than later (you know it to be true, whether it be via allegations or old age or death or something else), maybe Parr might go for that job to piss Bernie off.

        • I suspect CVC will be looking for someone with ‘new media’ exposure because that is where the next tranche of big money is to be found.

          Interesting that Bernie was promoting free SKY boxes in the UK to watch F1 – I’ve said for some time the current financing model has peaked.

          I’ll be posting something on the German GP maybe tomorrow – it looks as though FOM had to give it away for 2013 and the Nurburgring contract is a 1 year deal only.

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