Daily News and Comment: Saturday 20th April

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Hamilton gets a 5 place grid penalty

At the very end of FP3 we saw Lewis Hamilton crawling back to the garage with a delaminated tyre and broken suspension. With all the debate over whether tyres are overly affecting race results the reaction from some in the media is to blame Pirelli for delivering a sub-standard rubber.

Two things are worthy of note, if it were a tyre delamination due to a faulty construction then FP1,2 and 3 represents about 7,000km of running – add the qualifying and races – we’ve seen over 50,000km of the Pirelli tyres already this year and this is a rare event.

I believe that Mercedes have information that this was not a simple delamination due to a structural rubber failure alone – but we’ll have to wait and see what their official line is in the coming hours.

Hamilton was 5th fastest in FP3 and it appears after success in Malaysia and China as in 2012 the Mercedes team has lost some it its early momentum.

Team Principals’ FIA Press Conference

This is the one I look forward to each race weekend. Regardless of who is asking the questions unlike the drivers, those involved on a Friday regularly have some message they wish to convey even though it is regularly somewhat coded.

untitledThis weekend, the biggie was right at the very end and it wasn’t the domain of a principal with a competing car. Paul Hembery has been a fine ambassador for Pirelli and at times handles extreme criticism and pressure with a long lens. He realises the heat is on the tyre supplier for the first 3rd of the season and thereafter it becomes a series of mind games between teams and drivers.

Paul was asked,”When asked about the Pirelli situation, Mr. Ecclestone said rather cryptically that ‘from our side it’s all done.’ Is that your understanding of it? Could you explain what he could have meant by that please?”

Hembery: (Laughing a quite a lot) “What, you didn’t understand that, then? Well, it’s all done then from his side. I think that’s all I can say.

It’s on-going, I think I’ve told you before that we need to have some clarity over what’s going on, going forward. As time passes, we have to make decisions as a business. We’re not immune to what’s going on in the European automotive business in particular; sales were ten percent down in March in the overall market. That impacts heavily on us and we’re currently having to make action plans to address those challenges. I would think that from our point of view, sooner rather than later… time is of the essence, I would suggest now”.

Question: “What is the time scale?”

Hembery: I don’t particularly want to give deadlines to everyone because it seems like a negotiating point but there is a time scale and I’m pretty sure I know what it is. You might be inviting me here shortly to have a different type of press conference, I don’t know, but there has been progress and we are discussing and hopefully it will get resolved in the near future”.

untitledIt sounds to me like Bernie is getting as good as he usually dishes out in this negotiation. So he’s thrown down the gauntlet to Pirelli and said his position on remuneration is final – take it or leave it.

Hembery is careful not to threaten unnecessarily with deadlines but his response that he may soon be giving ‘a different type of press conference’ was a clear message. The veiled threat is – and not one that was too heavily disguised – we may be hearing from Pirelli, “We’re off and thanks for the memories” is a distinct possibility.

Many fans who oppose the current tyre design concept may feel it would be good for F1 were Pirelli to be replaced for 2014 but in fact it would do nothing to bring stability to the tyre matter. The reason being Pirelli have been developing their track data for 2 and a bit years and a new supplier coming in 2014 will be starting from scratch.

3 year tyre supply contracts are probably too short if we wish the manufacturer to develop a database that enables them to control the production and then the selection of tyres to each venue to an accurate specification

18 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Saturday 20th April

  1. Rosberg suffered suspension failure in China. Maybe the ‘FRIC’ system isn’t as robust as they think.

  2. I am getting a bit tired of everyone moaning about the tyres. Firstly, it is what it is… get on with it!

    Secondly, and probably the most important in my mind, Pirelli was asked to produce tyres to spice up the racing after it became a procession. They were told to make tyres that are challenging. In my mind they have done just that so for me, if I was a car manufacturer, I’d be asking them to make me tyres for my cars that last a bit longer but are great quality in the know that they are good at making to specification.

    Bring back those ultra durable tyres from Bridgestone for 1 season and see if you like the precession races. At least GP predictor will be easer 😛

    • No kidding – whatever the rights and wrongs of racing in Bahrain, looks from TV like all of about 100 people care to watch it live…

      • I can’t understand this at all. The chairman of the BIC told us that 77% of the Bahraini population believe the race is good for their country.

        Maybe they can’t afford the entrance fees

  3. I found this in the periodicals section of the www your honour.

    It was in a lesser known journal from the Arabic region entitled ‘Amateur Propaganda’, and is part of a series of tutorials on how to be an influencial but subtle voicepiece of your masters. http://goo.gl/K7UbQ

  4. Few things:

    1) Is this zain sponsorship (mclaren) new? This is the first time I have seen any mention of it. I have reseearched them – they are, essentially, the Bahrain Vodafone. In that case, are vodafone not on the car because of this reason (like USA, when Verizon are on the car instead), or because Vodafone don’t want to be on the car in Bahrain, or both?

    2) Brundle said on sky earlier that he has heard that a) Pirelli have signed a 5 year deal, and b) Bahrain could become a night race next year – have you heard these rumours Judge?

    3) Mr Ecclestone has suddenly decided that Bahrain is a bad idea – does he actually know what he is talking about anymore? Does he have any marbles left anymore? http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/22231448

    • Watching the video – I see BE hasn’t caught onto the smartphone hoohah (although, can you really imagine Bernie with a smartphone), which in turn I think partly answers Judge’s criticisms of F1 not adapting with the social media times (or at least not to the extent it could be) – if Bernie is not part of this, then F1 will not be. Only when the head (whether it be Bernie or not) is a part of social media, will F1 properly adapt.

    • Excellent questions. If the following appears a little disjointed you’ll forgive me and join up the dots…

      McLaren are in a most difficult position. The sovereign fund of Bahrain has a $400m investment in the group.

      Last year some team sponsors requested not to have their logo’s displayed during the Bahrain weekend, however there are contractual matters which prevented this.

      Most big purveyors of hospitality reduces enormously or cancelled completely their events.

      Zain is a Kuwaiti listed PLC and has operated in since the middle east since 1983 as MTC.

      It began operating in Bahrain 2003 as MTC Vodafone in Bahrain.

      The McLaren sponsor’s name in the position of the title sponsor in 2012 was Vodafone.

      Negotiations were finalised in September 2012 for Vodafone to ‘extend its presence in western Asia’.

      Vodafone are in a non-equity agreement handed over their Egyptian and Qatari operations to run under the Zain brand.

      Global brands do reposition their identities to suit particular regions of the world in which they operate and to protect and extend their brands reach.

      Gotta dash… Will return to the other points later.

      • “McLaren are in a most difficult position. The sovereign fund of Dubai has a $400m investment in the group.”

        It’s the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company that owns shares in both McLaren Automotive and McLaren Group. Bahrain Mumtalakat is the main arm of the Bahrain government for non-oil and gas investments, not Dubai.

  5. “It began operating in Bahrain 2003 as MTC Vodafone in Bahrain.”

    As far I can find Vodafone don’t have a financial interest in Zain but offer services through their parters program to Zain.

    • Hence why it is a non-equity arrangement which apparently rather generously allows them a most prominent position on the McLaren f1 cars…

  6. And for those wondering – Vodafone did have their logo’s on the McLaren for the Bahrain race in 2012.

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