Daily News and Comment: Monday 22nd April 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day

“What a difference a day makes”
“24 little hours” – as the song goes.  Regardless of the dislike many F1 people have over being forced to entertain people they’d rather not be associated with, nobody can dispute that the image of the BIC being a bore fest circuit for F1 racing in the Gulf was blown to smithereens yesterday.

About half way through the race I had to pinch myself to make sure I was awake and not dreaming; I was so shocked that I asked if anyone on Twitter knew whether Bahrain’s International Circuit had been hacked and taken down by ‘Anonymous’, then replaced with a new track that was now providing compelling F1 racing.

Anyway, just as Britain’s ‘New Labour’ knew how to manipulate a ‘bad news day’, the reverse is true today as the FOM lawyers appear to have encouraged Bernie to strike whilst the Bahrain feel good factor is still glowing in the hearts and minds of F1 fans.

Ecclestone announces he is prepared to give the Bahraini race promoters an extension to their contract which still has 3 more years to run. “I feel they do a super job and we’re more than happy to give them a new contract for five years, I don’t see any problems.”

There have been rumours in the paddock that the race may next year be run under lights the organisers believe that they cooler evening would attract more spectators. Kevin Eason of the Times estimates there were around 25-30,000 who attended the race yesterday. This number falls far short of the capacity 100,000 the Sakhir circuit has accommodated over 3 days in the past. It is also way below the number used in the presentation by Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa to the business community of the benefits to Bahrain from hosting F1.

Ecclestone’s offer of a contract extension has been welcomed by Bahrain circuit Chairman Zayed R Alzayani who says organisers are hopeful of extending the hosting deal before 2013 is out. “We’re still contracted to 2016, but obviously we are willing to look beyond that,” Alzayani said.

We’ve not started negotiations yet, but we are happy to look at it. The intentions are definitely there. We’re committed to the sport, we were the first race in the Middle East – we call ourselves the home of motor sport in the Middle East.”

“We truly believe that in every sense of those words, so we are here for the long term, and we want to be known as the friendly race. Hopefully we can sign something this year. We are hoping to get an early race and a test session next year as well so whether it’s the first, second or third test, I don’t know yet.”

A test in Bahrain a week before the race would concern me that the information the teams gain from running their cars for the equivalent of several GP’s each would return racing on the BIC to the procession or even worse than it was before. Thankfully that decision is not within Ecclestone’s remit.

Well truly we have seen the many faces of Bernie Ecclestone this weekend – more even than the famous clock at Knott’s Berry Farm. “The government is stupid… it can help heal divisions… if only I’d known back in September… Let’s stay here forever…”. As I said last week, I’m just glad Bahrain is over (but don’t tell I said this – it was one hell of a race).

Lloyds sell Marussia shareholding
A report in the money section of a weekend paper states that Lloyds Banking Group has been forced to pull out of investing in F1 . The investment arm of the bank, LDC (who are like CVC – corporate gamblers and craps players with other people’s money) did own 25.3% in the Marussia team.

“LDC has sold its minority shareholding in the Marussia F1 team to Marussia,” a spokesman said. “While the details will remain undisclosed, the terms of the transaction will enable LDC to recoup the full value of its investment in the business.”

Marussia Motor’s have acquired the share for around £10m as this was the price LDC paid for the stake in the team back in 2009. which means the management team has a 7.3% stake in their team, yet there is a loan outstanding to LDC over and above this transaction for around £38.4m. Add this to the rest of the debt and the team is worth less than the £40m valuation of the shareholdings. It also has debts higher than its value and a revenue that was not supporting the annual expenditure never mind debt repayment – that’s bad…

The latest accounts for Marussia show that in the year ending December 31 2011, they made a net loss of £46.3m on revenue which dropped 5% to £28.6m. Compare that to the estimated £250m spend of Red Bull and it becomes patently obvious why F1 will run into another financial crisis at some point soon.

Sochi 2014
Here’s the deatiled layout of the new circuit at Sochi for the Russian GP. What do you think of the layout?

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The 5.9-kilometre (3.7 mi) circuit will be the third-longest circuit on the Formula One calendar, behind Spa in Belgium and Silverstone. The circuit will be built around the Sochi Olympic Park “coastal cluster”, a collection of venues for the 2014 Winter Olympics that will host ice hockey, speed skating and the stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies. Apparently the surface will not be laid until after the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics.

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The circuit will start on the northern edge of the Olympic Park near the train station, running down to the central “medals plaza”, the podium for Olympic medals presentations. The circuit will circle the plaza and head east to the Bolshoy Ice Drome and navigate a series of tight corners before turning north where it will skirt the edge of the Olympic Park, above the main Olympic Village and the Adler Arena Skating Centre. It will then pass the skating and curling centres, before funneling up behind the pit paddock toward the train station, and completing a circuit with a one hundred and eighty degree bend. Some 1.7 kilometres (1.1 mi) of the circuit length will take place on public roads.untitled

Pirelli under fire again
You wouldn’t blame Pirelli were they to tell  Ecclestone to shove where the sun doesn’t shine his 5 year offer to supply the F1 teams with tyres. The whinging, complaining and general bad mouthing of the sports tyre supplier is getting beyond a joke. Pirelli have done what they were asked, yet all their shareholders hear broadcast all around the planet is criticism of how they are ruining F1.

untitledNow that Red Bull can once again win races by a country mile, Christian Horner’s was notably less critical of Sebastian Vettel’s rubber boots. That said, Seb appears to have modified his driving boots and attached to them lucky charms; one rather touchingly from his grandmother.

Ferrari have been to date smugly denying there are any problems with Pirelli’s 2013 offering whilst watching Red Bull suffer with incremental tyre degradation in races 1-3 of the season. Massa had 2 punctures during the Bahrain GP and he said, “I’ve never had two problems (failures) with tyres in one race. I don’t know what it is, but it’s too much. Maybe there was debris on the track, but I didn’t feel any contact.”

Paul Hembery confirmed last night that they had identified “cuts” on the failed tyres, “and we’re currently trying to find out what caused those cuts”.

Massa however told German publication AMuS that his first tyre issue was caused “probably by de-lamination of the tread, like (Lewis) Hamilton in practice”.

untitledAsked whether he thought this was a safety issue and whether it was due to the Pirelli 2013 design he replied, “It’s hard to say. It hasn’t happened to me before, and we’ve already had a few races this year, so no. But we do need to understand what happened and then make sure we are putting any complaining in the right direction.”

It would appear Felipe should take his own advice before making claims the there was a delamination of the tread.

As part of the prototype and design process the tyres are tested to destruction with extreme abrasion and heat testing way beyond that experienced on any F1 weekend. Further, with over 50,000km run in F1 this year and that does not include over 100,000km of testing the number of failures hardly registers as a statistically significant event.

It could be the BIC needs to ensure the high winds do not blow dangerous objects onto the track which in turn are tearing up the tyres. TJ13 recommends a glass dome be built across the entire circuit before another race be allowed in the gulf state. Or would that be a tad precipitous?

Here’s what Paul Hemberey had to say about Bahrain to TJ13 TV. Click on the YouTube button at the bottom and go to our channel. There are now 38 videos there – of all kinds of F1 interest. We are adding to them all the time. Press the ‘subscribe’ button and you’ll get an email when a new video is posted. Not all videos appear in the main blog.

Lotus chassis issues
TJ13 raised the question suggested after Malaysia that it may be worth Lotus having a look at the Romain Grosjean’s chassis. There was time to deliver a new one before China, however for some reason they chose to wait until Bahrain.

Lotus have previous on producing dodgy chassis early season and isn’t it strange certain team make similar mistakes year on year. Maybe they said to their French driver if he didn’t crash for 3 races, they’d give him a faster car – who knows.

untitledRomain was cagey when he spoke to  RMC Sport, “I can not tell you what made the difference because it’s confidential, but it is practically nothing and my feeling in the first round I do Saturday morning FP3 I said on the radio was like ‘night and day – this is the car that I love. “

Well TJ13 for one is glad to see this happy Frenchman beaming again. It makes up for his invisible countryman who found ploughing round central America pressing the flesh to be far more important than representing the sport he was elected to run.

The Samurai returns
Okay. Now it might get interesting. Alonso has shaken off the political shackles of Maranello and decided if the team can’t even make his cat flap work he’s going to engage the enemy himself.

untitledThe Samurai returns and refused to be cowed by the sovereign performance from Sebastian Vettel. He tweets, “An ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse. A Samurai is a warrior takes everything as a challenge.”

Alonso already trails Vettel by 30 points and it is likely tensions will begin to build inside Ferrari should they miss the opportunity to dominate whilst Red Bull have been struggling with tyres. We may even see their new communications officer making statements on behalf of Luca soon – La Stampa are warming up their special Ferrari badged printing presses and Italy waits with baited breath.

Right. You wouldn’t believe what goes on in chambers to entertain us when a jury takes forever to deliberate. One thing we do is listen to a Crofty question for a while.

Never mind that. Let’s play – “What would Vettel Say?” – if he were to engage Fernando on twitter. Remember for those of you not tempted onto the dark side of the new media yet – 140 characters including spaces only…

Hormer claims the credit for Vettel’s win
It was called at the time ‘audacious’ and ‘incredible’, Sebastian Vettel’s pass on Alonso on lap 1 and Nico Rosberg on lap 3. In fact Vettel credited these passes as “most important” to delivering his win in Bahrain. He made the moves coming out of turn 4 by using all his KERS in a part of the track where there may never have been an F1 pass before.

It would be similar to seeing a pass made through Maggots and Becketts at Silverstone. Yet there is a delicious irony over the inspiration for this move. Horner claims he was watching the GP2 race and suggested to Sebastian that passing just after turn 4 had worked pretty well and maybe he should try it. Vettel’s response was described as, “‘yeah, yeah don’t tell me my job!”.

SKY analyst Ted Kravitz recounted, “So it tickled Christian rather that this is precisely what Sebastian did!” Horner added without any attempt at irony, “It looked like he listened!”.

Odd that?
More like – what were the odds of that? We know  that the Bahrain GP produced exactly the same 3 podium positioned drivers as in 2012. What are the chances of that happening I hear you cry in unison… Well this has only happened twice before in the history of F1.

The last time was 1998-99 in Barcelona when Mika Hakkinen won and David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher were second and third. The only other time was in 1964 and 1965 at the British Grand Prix where Jim Clark finished top ahead of Graham Hill and John Surtees.

So, who is going to do the sums…answers in the comments please.

Also there is a small anomaly in the examples given – anyone know what?

Button attacks Perez (from SniffPetrol)
Jenson Button has launched a furious attack on McLaren team mate Sergio Perez after the Mexican driver repeatedly tussled with his British counterpart during yesterday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

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Button in Bahrain, yesterday

Checo’s behaviour out there was ridiculous,’ Button fumed last night. ‘Apparently he was doing something called ‘racing’ in which a driver tries to get past another driver to enable them to obtain a better finishing position and therefore score more world championship points. I’ve never heard of anything so dangerous in my life.

Button was quick to rebuff suggestions that TV viewers might have enjoyed seeing the two McLarens in wheel-to-wheel combat on the Bahrain circuit. ‘Yeah, apparently some people found it ‘entertaining’ or something,’ the British driver snapped. ‘And honestly, they’re completely missing the point of the sport. Formula 1 isn’t about two well-matched cars relentlessly overtaking each other in a tense battle of nerve and skill; Formula 1 is about carefully looking after your tyres and waiting for people with laptops to calculate a strategy for pit stops and fuel conservation.

Look, I had enough of this ‘overtaking’ shit with the last guy,’ the Frome-born racer concluded in that funny voice of his that sounds like he needs to do a big cough. ‘With him gone, this season I was promised a bitch. Does anyone have a number for Felipe Massa?

20 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Monday 22nd April 2013

  1. Is it just me or does that Russian track layout bare a striking resemblance to a sickle? Will there be a national circuit next door that’s shaped like a hammer & a karting track in the shape of a star?

  2. Last year Ferrari were the 3rd or 2nd best car on teh grid and Alonso nearly won the title. If he fails to challenge this year, Ferrari and himself will be banging their ehads against the wall, they’re so much closer to RB this year.
    Yet again, it’s impossible for Alonso to repeat last year’s performance, he made only one mistake all year last year, he’s already made one this year.

    • Indeed and so have the team now

      Alonso must be comforted following their cosy dinner together that Webber will be throwing a few points his way – since Vettel openly accused him of doing having already done this in the past.

      There’s an old saying, “May as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb”.

  3. Judge, now that the Asian leg of races is over, can we make a prediction for the F1 title based on last year? Given that the regulations haven’t changes and we see some similarities in race pace for certain teams in certain races, that might be posible. Maybe Intelligent F1 can do somethign about it?
    I said last year in September that the 2013 title will be Vettel’s again. And it looks that way.

    • I’ll ask Dr. James – whether there is some model he may have. Seems pretty tricky though thinking back to my days of science…

  4. Ok here are my entries for ‘Veets’ (Vettel Tweets)

    “Confucious, he say: when front wing is hanging off, come to pits”

    “Confucious, he say: if mechanics fix buggered DRS, don’t use it again straight away”

    • Here’s an aptly ascibed Veet (thanks adam) with a little spice and bite to it.

      To @alo_oficial “Success at times is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

    • What about “Success is being able to give everyone the finger ;)” SebVet does like the British sense of humour 😀

  5. @officialvettel & @redbullracing,

    “The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell”

    Confucius.

    • I have seen it and heard about it yesterday. I’m currently having an F1 epiphany having chatted with Sir Stirling and Sir Jock…

      Then I watched the SKY legends programme on Tony Brooks who drove in the British GP with a hole in his side the size of a golf ball.

      He sustained those injuries from being buried underneath his car on the edge of a corner. He was released when another car hit his inverted vehicle sending it up the bank and into a grandstand. He was grateful for the secondary collision.

      Kimi has a rash….

  6. In 1963/64/65 the British GP had the same three people on the podium Clark, Hill and Surtees but in 63 Surtees was second to Clark not Hill (2nd in 64 and 65)

      • Depends what you count as an anomaly!

        The two British GPs weren’t on the same circuit, but that one could also be an anomaly as it is the only one where all three drivers were the same nationality and where they were of the ‘home’ nationality.

        Interesting how in all cases the same drivers were driving for the same teams…

        • Really good spot. And so F1 throughout the ages has teams which are dominant year to year on tracks which suit their basic car configuration.

          However, considering there are usually 4-8 cars (2-4 teams) capable of winning races – then odds of over 300-1 for this event are quite remarkable.

  7. I must admit I have reservations about the Sochi track. The semicircle looks a bit pointless, I guess there will be an overtaking opportunity coming in to it but I can’t see there being much after that, it will be tricky to follow someone closely around it which will mess up all the corners afterwards.

    There doesn’t look to be anything particularly technical and one thing that does seem to be missing is an obvious second DRS zone. Even the main candidate isn’t straight all the way…

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