Daily News and Comment: Monday 29th April 2013

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Power Games

Despite winning 2 out of the first four races, Red Bull are not happy. Dieter Mateschitz has spoken out against the 2013 Pirelli tyres and does not mince his words.

“Formula 1 no longer has anything to do with classic racing. Today it is not the fastest driver in the fastest car who wins, but the one who optimizes their optimum tire management and speed. We’ve had to scale down our cars capabilities because the tyres dictate this. The tread breaks up and rubber bits fly off. If we were to go as fast as we could then we would need 10 to 15 pit stops! “

This does not appear to be a particularly considered comment as Dieter’s rhetoric and opinion more than implies he is having a rant. To claim 15 pit stops are necessary is absurd.

What does now become apparent is that Dieter’s post Malaysia comments threatening to withdraw from F1 were not because of the ‘multi21’ scandall but was an attempt to bring pressure to bear on Ecclestone, Todt and Pirelli.

TJ13 reported last week that Pirelli have not signed an extension of their contract to supply F1 because they are holding out for some kind of guarantee that the sport will not revert to highly conservative tyre specifications – as demanded from the likes of Red Bull. Pirelli believe a constant tyre debate is great publicity for their company and do not wish to return to the Bridgestone days where the tyres were irrelevant and hardly discussed.

Yet clearly there are big political plays being made behind the scenes as Pirelli have agreed to revert to the 2012 specification of the hard compound. Further, in 2 of the next four races they have nominated the medium and the hard tyre as the choice for dry running when at those circuits historically the tyre choice has been soft and hard tyre.

The change of hard compound specification is not such a big and unique U-turn as Pirelli did this – changed the hard compound from Barcelona onwards – in 2011. In fact this change in effect means the gap in performance between the medium and the hard tyre has been increased.

The Pirelli 2013 P Zero range were all designed to be a step ‘softer’ than their 2012 predecessors and around 0.5 seconds apart in terms of lap time. Therefore the tyre compounds we are now left with for the rest of the season we could describe in 2012 terms as – extra super soft, super soft, soft and revised hard – the same as 2012 hard.

Further there is now a bigger performance differential between the hardest tyre within the range and the softest. It may appear Dieter Masteschitz’s threat to take his ball home had Ecclestone and Pirelli dancing to the sounds from a Styrian harmonica, yet this solution is a fudge and looks to be a token gesture.

What matters is the tyre selection Pirelli make for each race weekend and whether they again turn the end of season run in to a ‘borefest’ as in 2012 by making too conservative a tyre choice which allows teams to cruise a 1 stop strategy.

Tweet of the weekend

Following a miserable 0-0- draw with Reading, Tony Fernandes Premier League Football team QPR were confirmed as relegated for the next year. In a message of hope to the fans here’s Tony’s tweet. @tonyfernandes: “Sorry to all QPR fans. But the plan goes on. Now more than ever. We owe it to you. Took 3 years to get Caterham right. No quitting”

What do you respond to that?

Williams misery continues

Following Maldonado’s acclaimed win just under a year ago, it appeared the Williams team were ready to push on and climb the F1 constructor’s table. Yet a late appearance for the 2013 car in winter testing did not bode well for the season’s challenge ahead.

Williams have just released their financial statements for 2012 and the picture is not good. Following a £7.4m profit in 2011, the group has once again slumped and is reporting across the group a £5m loss for 2012. This was despite an increase in revenue of 22% to £127m.

In an attempt to brush off the bad news, Williams claim this loss is due to an accounting technicality which does not allow the team to account for a slice of cash they received the week after Adam Parr’s departure. This payment was made because the team played ball with Bernie and FOM and signed up to the new Concorde agreement.

However, this accounting technicality does indeed ensure the financial position of the Williams Group as presented is  ‘true and fair’. The payment from FOM should not be allowed to count in just 1 years income because it relates to a commitment from the team to race for a number of years.

So even though all the money has been paid up front, Williams have to use that cash to ensure they enter a team in F1 until at least 2015. If they fail to do so, the money must be repaid.

Williams are a listed company on the Frankfurt Exchange and their shares fell 3% in early trading. The share price is some 15% lower than when the floatation occurred, although this is much improved on the 40% fall in value the stock suffered 6 months from the point of floatation.

Top 10 teams only to get paid

There are times the F1 media makes me smile. There is a story tearing around the various media outlets that only the top 10 teams will now be paid out from FOM. It is based on an article in the Telegraph which suggests CVC are getting ready to float again this year for £6.5bn.

CVC was desperately short of cash in 2012 and sold around half it’s stake in F1. The promise to the new joint owners was that the float would be imminent and all parties buying in 2012 were doing so at a discount which would pay handsome returns soon after. Let’s see if the float actually occurs this year.

The details on how the teams are paid their $698.5m prize fund is not news but ancient history and during the winter close down TJ13 looked at the structure of F1’s finance distribution and explained why it has only been the top 10 paid for the previous 3 years.

Following the withdrawal in quick succession of Toyota, BMW and Honda from F1, panic set in. A world racing series with 6-7 teams is not so attractive a commercial proposition. In the face of crisis it was quickly agreed to allow up[ to 13 teams to compete in F1 and to ask for proposals from ‘new teams’ wishing to enter the sport.

Of course only 3 were accepted even several applications were made. The teams known last season as HRT, Caterham and Marussia were the new kids on the block and were admitted under the existing Concorde agreement. This meant that only 1 of them would receive a distribution of money.

Bernie agreed to fund the prize money for the 11th and 12th positions and this payment became knowns as ‘Bernie’s cash’ – though it is likely it was CVC covering the cost or making a substantial contribution. The period Bernie’s cash was to run for would be until the new Concorde Agreement for 2013.

The story continues that it is Marussia who will not be paid because they do not have a contract with Ecclestone/CVC. Mr. E says, “they don’t have a commercial agreement because they are not in the top ten. We pay the top ten, that’s what we do. For three years we did something different because we had an agreement with Max but from now on we will pay the top ten and that is it.”

Someone well known in the paddock once said to me, “Bernie may be an idiot – but he’s not stupid”.

If Bernie is to be believed then what he is saying is that because Marussia finished 11th at the end of the 2012 season they cannot have a contract going forward with F1. Yet we know that it has been Marussia who have declined advances from Caterham for a merger – it was Marussia who have refused to sign a deal with Ecclestone they believed to be prejudicial.

This smacks of Bernie trying to be clever and possibly force Marussia’s hand. The team have applied and been accepted via the FIA registration scheme to race in F1 this year and there have been suggestions that to be prejudicial to a team fulfilling the requirements of the FIA may cause intervention from the EU competition authorities.

Despite this what is Marussia’s game? It is a strange one indeed and appears to have rattled the cage somewhat of  F1’s usually omnipotent master.

Fearnley reckons Di Resta could be champion

When asked this weekend whether he thought Paul Di Resta could be the F1 drivers’ champion he said, “Absolutely, you have to look at it and say probably at least 50 per cent of the drivers on the grid today, given the right car and package, would be a world champion. There is no reason why he [Paul] and a number of others would not have been world champion already in a team like Red Bull.”

Not exactly a resounding endorsement one feels.

Lewis and religion

I’m not sure where Lewis is presently in the world or what time zone, but it does appear should he be in Europe he has had a bit of a lie in. Lewis tweets to his 1m plus fans at 15:10 CET “Good morning Beautiful day today, just finished church. Really positive start to my day. Wishing you a great day, taking roscoe to the beach.”

TJ13 was curious back in Barcelona test 1 whether Lewis had found religion, God or Allah. When asked about a possible return to F1 for Adrian Sutil he replied, “I contacted him a while ago because I heard there was a chance he could get the seat and just said that I had said a prayer for him, that I really hoped he got the seat because he deserved it and that I really hoped to see him back in Formula One”.

The TJ13 then reported on the origins of Lewis body art (tattoo in common parlance) that covers his entire back entitled, “Still I rise”. This saying is taken from a poem written by a lady from the deep south of the USA who has well known for her civil rights and religious views.

Maybe long vigil’s of petition and prayer to the F1 gods are the reason for the mini Mercedes renaissance we have seen a glimpse of this year. Has Lewis indeed found God or did God find Lewis?

untitledWhat has been noticeable this year if you use twitter – is Lewis’ new picture is a striking study in violet. Violet of course has spiritual meaning and this is apparently the colour of the highest Auric Bodily aspect of all.

“It is the Aura at the boundary of our life existence with the Cosmic Mind and universal realities. All lower aspects must be in balance before this Aura even begins to show as it indicates a latent, if not active, awareness of the highest spirituality and emotional intellect. This is Divine Love.

Love of the self and others has been added to the all encompassing highest spiritual love and the urge to use it for the good and harmony of all. They know their destiny is to lead and educate the world in their awareness, insights and understandings. Those with an Aura of the true colour are well aware of their purpose but other affecting colours can indicate a need to find their true path to accomplishment.

All psychic and clairvoyant understandings are within but perhaps not fully utilised, as the focus of this Aura is the Divine Love aspect of reaching out and bringing understanding, love and harmony to all that they can, it is more a spiritual understanding than anything else. Purple/violet Aura subjects have the vision to inspire and lead almost by instinct and reaching out with their minds is not a conjoured ability, it is part of their being.

The spiritual side of everything is a driving force and these individuals are often involved with the arts and music as expressions of themselves. They accept what life throws at them with humility but they have the intuition, spontaneity and vision to turn this into a positive force for them to work with.

Their problems stem from failing to maintain their own connections with the highest of aspects and what is beyond because of their drive to bring this to others. Also, they must ensure that the world as it is now must be lived in, as the world that they are helping to create is still in its infancy”. (Perceptions9)

Go Lewis.

16 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Monday 29th April 2013

  1. It really surprises me all this big push for RBR to get the best out of the tyres, trying to really secure the 4th straight title. If there was one team to really throw their toys out of the pram, that would be Merc.
    In a way, it almost points to the fact that Dieter is really afraid of the 2014 regs and the years to come, he behaves as if it’s his last shot at glory!

    • Imagine how RBR will feel if the Mercs end up using the harder tyre better than them and winning all the races going forward… Are they going to lobby for softer tyres then?

      Re Di Resta… Bob the builder stating the obvious then… given the right car… some people have to work to get the car, others, well they just hire Newey. 😛

  2. I think Bahrain is likely a bit of an omen, for the rest of the season, if Red Bull have got this done right. Vettel out in front and winning easy, a la 2011.

  3. Okay I dont get it. I don’t see any benefit the RedBull gains from making the hard tyre harder.
    Take Bahrain, RedBull ran the Hard tyre in the race stints, so did most people, but a few like Grosjean did do stints on the medium which were only a couple of laps less than the hard tyre stints and that he did when he was pushing like crazy.
    If hard tyre is made harder, that means it wont be as fast in the stints. Teams will then look to ways to make the medium tyres work in the race. Lotus could run stints which are much faster on the medium tyre and just 2-3 laps shorter than even this harder hard tyres. If they do that they will be much faster and they can make the last stint on the hard a long one.
    RedBull needed the mediums & softs to be made harder to really get an advantage.
    Does this make any sense?

  4. In regards to the F1 float. I suspect that they have to do it now due to the fact that the last three Concorde Agreements have increased the amount that the teams get. My numbers may not be exact but the payout has gone from 44% to 51% to the latest which is 62%. Any smart investor can easily see that the teams are going to demand, and ultimately get more of the pie. Hard to see where substantiation new amounts of revenue can be generated by FOM to offset what the teams get paid.

    • They’ve got some $3.2bn of loans to consider too. This is the $1bn CVC borrowed to finance the acquisition of F1 plus a further $2.2bn paid in advance dividends to shareholders called.

      So at an offer price of $10bn, it would take any ‘new owner’ 20 years to recoup the $10bn from the current annual levels of profit…

      Great idea. Where do we sign?

  5. The Marussia story is interesting because of what appears to be the involvement of Ferrari in the mix. Without question the main reason Bianchi is in the team is that Ferrari paid to have him there. Recent news reports suggest that Ferrari will supply Marussia with an engine -gearbox package next year and for the following few years. While I doubt Ferrari would buy the team, they certainly could throw money their way or push sponsors to them if they wanted a Ferrari “junior” team they could use to evaluate young drivers. Bernie can easily push Marussia around. He can’t do that with Ferrari, and that maybe is why Marussia know that with Ferrari backing them there’s not much Bernie can do to them.

    • His post today appears as sceptical as mine over whether the float talk is genuine. He covers some of the image rights issues we’ve discussed here before Australia.

      They have to pretend to the people they’ve sold shares to the float is imminent – but some crisis will presumably kick it into next year at some point.

      • Saward claims in today’s piece that no other team / organization is behind Marussia’s decision not to sign the Concorde Agreement. I still think that Ferrari are playing a role in Marussia’s decision. The fact that Marussia still haven’t signed is an indication that they feel immune from anything Bernie may do to them.

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