Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 30th April 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day.

Comment of the day

I’m going to introduce this into the daily news and it may be one made by a TJ13 reader and entered in the comments section below an article – or it could be one from the world of F1.

Luca Montezemolo mischievously claimed this month that Ferrari have a problem deciding which of their 700 favoured customers will be able to buy one of the 499 LaFerraris and states that the McLaren P1 is not a 100 percent new car, of which he goes on to claim, only half of the 375 production run has sold!

TJ13 reader HerowasSenna reminds us of another F1 great in his response –

“No less mischievous than Gordan Murray stating that ‘no-one at Mclaren welds that badly’ when asked about the F1 vs the F40. There has been exchanges between Dennis vs Ferrari throughout the years and ultimately what goes around comes around”.

Marko Watch

At times it’s like conducting the orchestraJ. TJ13 suggested yesterday Red Bull would not be happy with the Pirelli ‘tweak’ in hard tyre compound.

untitledWe have previously reported in the daily news that there is an on the ongoing political battle between Ecclestone, Pirelli and Red Bull. Pirelli are looking for a commitment from F1 that the tyres will not return to being conservative before they will sign up for a further term as supplier to the series.

Red Bull’s billionaire owner Mateschitz has threatened to take his ball home and not play F1 games any more having being described by Marko as incandescent with rage following the Malaysian GP and the issue of tyre wear.

Pirelli then declared they will ditch the 2013 hard compound tyre and revert to a compound similar to the hard tyre of 2012. TJ13 commented yesterday this would not impress Red Bull.

Today Marko makes it clear he is not happy with this token gesture from Pirelli.

“We want as soon as possible a tyre that does not limit our potential. It should be that you are able to get the most out of your car. If we use the full potential we cannot even last a full lap qualifying

To tell your drivers they are not allowed to drive some corners properly. If we had a normal tyre, Vettel would be half a second quicker than everyone on each track. We know this from our simulations”.

A compelling closing argument for the Austrian prosecution methinks. It is surely a foregone conclusion that the members of the jury – the other F1 teams – will now decide unanimously that the matter should be resolved in Red Bull’s favour. Case closed eh Helmut?

Marussia not cowed by Ecclestone

Whilst Ecclestone rants on about only wanting 10 teams and refusing to redistribute $700m dollars of prize money in anything other than manner that looks anything other than a brown paper envelope excercise, the genuine  F1 people are getting on with the job of designing, building and racing cars.

untitledSome F1 fans are not in favour of Pat Symonds being pardoned for his sins which saw him collaborate to deliberately crash one of his team’s cars in order to give the other one an advantage. Yet in the courtroom of F1 and life – when you’ve served your sentence you are free to go – and Pat is a man with vast F1 experience now being rehabilitated and forced to fight for one of F1’s minnows.

In a week where the recklessness and selfishness of the commercial rights holders is making the headlines, Pat talks lucidly about F1 and finance.

“The fact is, outside the top four teams everyone has some financial concerns and even in the top four you’ve got Mercedes who, while they haven’t financial concerns, there must be other concerns there – that they don’t go the way of Honda and Toyota.

So everyone’s worried. But the difference between the haves and the have nots is just immense – and it’s not getting any better. Under the last Concorde Agreement the new teams including Marussia did get some payout from FOM; it wasn’t a lot of money but it was a significant part of our budget, because our budget was so small. And when you take away things like that, it really hurts.

I said that I really like the people here. They’re racers – (Team Principal) John (Booth) and (President) Graeme (Lowdon) particularly, they’re in the Frank Williams mould. They’re not going to let this team go. So we will survive and the great thing about us is that we’re small, so if things get tough one day we can pull our horns in a little bit. And if we get more money we’ll use it wisely, because we’re used to not having much money.

I think that’s reflected in our development last year. If you compare qualifying times in Malaysia between 2013 and 2012, Lotus and Force India both used softer tyres in 2013 than they did in 2012 but, excepting that, most people had improved by about 0.75 per cent. Marussia were 2.5 per cent quicker. Things like that make you think: ‘We’re going places”.

Marussia are indeed ambitious as they set their sights on finishing ahead of one of the more established midfield teams.

untitledPat continues, “I always like to set targets that are higher than we might realistically achieve. The obvious target is tenth in the Championship but I don’t find that a terribly exciting target, I’d like to target higher than that. I’d love to get into Q2; obviously I’d love to score a point. But more than anything, I want people to look at the team and respect the team – and I think that’s started. I’d be happy to take our car and park it in any garage up the pitlane. The quality of our car is good.

“I know people in just about every garage and they do look at the car and say, ‘That’s a nicely designed and well-engineered car’. That gives me a lot of gratification. You get that respect from continually improving; points can’t be that far away.”

It would be great to see the Marussia team defy the odds and score a result that punches way above their financial position. This in itself would force the issue again over cost control and once again demonstrate that F1 is and was historically about being clever – rather than just uber rich.

Whitmarsh wish comes true

It was all rather jocular and matey when after the Bahrain race whenJenson and his boss Martin bantered with SKY about who was to blame for Checo’s aggressive driving display.

Jenson humorously challenged Whitmarsh as to why he had instructed his team mate to ‘get his elbows out’.. “What on earth possessed you to think that, never mind say it” he jibed.

Yet Whitmarsh stuck to the script, refusing to criticise the Mexican driver for anything other than his contact with the rear of Button’s car.

Clearly behind the scenes Jenson has been bringing pressure to bear that will give him the ‘team leader’ status he feels he deserves. Yet this is not forthcoming.

untitledA number of mainstream media publications have published stories which state Perez apologised to Button after the event and Checo has come out to state this is not the case.

“I didn’t apologise to him, because I didn’t think it was necessary”.

In a mature assessment of the racing incident he continues, “We owed an apology to the team, and that’s what we talked about. We apologised to the team, because we risked a lot and we were both very aggressive. But at no moment did I apologise (to Jenson). Our relationship is still ok.”

Sergio is candid about his situation when he accepts, “The beginning with McLaren has not been easy. I am in a British team with a British driver, and the British press has been very hard on me.

And of course it was not the start of the season we had hoped for, which put even more pressure on.”

Perez appears to be finding his feet now. The bravado of day one at the WTC has worn off and he has taken with humility responsibility when he has underperformed by comparison to Button. Now refusing to compromise his racing beliefs by making a cheap and easy apology is another step in Checo’s development – with which McLaren must surely be pleased so far.

The reality is that McLaren been running a pig of a car for the first part of the season, and with Button having a mere 13 points and Perez just 3 behind – this tee’s up a fantastic inter team battle in the coming weeks and in the words of the iconic Eddie Murphy movie sound track – “The heat is [most definitely] on”.

New Jersey looking doubtful

We’ve been hearing a huge amount about Sochi 2014 recently and whether or not it will go ahead. In the meantime New Jersey has quietly slipped out of the limelight and nobody is saying much about that race proposal being resurrected. When asked about the F1 visiting the metropolis, Ecclestone commented this week, “we are talking to different people in the States but who knows?”

untitledLong Beach once again is being mooted as a possible F1 venue for 2016 but there are issues with the current racing license holders Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe who are refusing to cede their Indycar race to F1. Kalkhoven says, “Gerry and I are not interested in selling Long Beach.” Jim Michaelian, the CEO of the race added that “this is a story that keeps bouncing around every year or so, despite the fact that the race isn’t for sale and there’s been no contact between anyone and Kevin about a sale.”

Ecclestone suggests otherwise saying, “We are not in deep discussions with Long Beach but we have spoken to them”. Seems like thee’s a long way to go there then.

There appears to be a feeling that the rush to host F1 races across the globe has settled down somewhat. The impression Bernie was giving a couple of years ago was that there’d soon be just 3-4 races left in Europe – such was the demand and money coming from elsewhere.

Cape Town have told Ecclestone to stick his race where the sun doesn’t shine and even though FOM own Istanbul Park those with political power in Turkey have no time for Ecclestone and shunned his proposal of a bargain basement hosting fee in 2013.

Portugal has been mentioned briefly – but as one of the EU’s ‘pigs’ than cannot be a serious proposition as cannot Greece. Similarly France’s socialist government would be hung drawn and quartered were they to toss any public money into the F1 ring masters coffers at present.

Thailand is another F1 hopeful host, but there are issues to consider there too. The one bright hope on the horizon [not for Austin] is Mexico. The money, the will and the power to make that race happen are in no doubt. But every where else there appear to be serious question marks.

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10 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Tuesday 30th April 2013

  1. If only Red Bull were called Ferrari, Pirelli would really make them two nice pairs of ‘boots’. Just like the way Bridgestone used to do and even Pirelli do now.
    Let’s not forget Ferrari had trouble to heat up the tyres last year, so with this year’s tyres being a degree softer, that has really helped Ferrari (…and Lotus too).

    • I think the time has gone where Ferrari were favored by FIA and the rules helped them. Threatening to quit and start there own series over budget cap must have soured things up.
      If you look at the rules today with no testing, aerodynamic predominance, wind tunnel & simulation tools importance, they all hit Ferrari more than Mclaren & RedBull.
      Tyres getting softer has been a trend not just this year but previous year too The logic being as the teams figure them out and start doing 1 pit stop races near the end of the season, tyres are softened to hold more pitstops.
      Ferrari is no where near lotus in the tyre advantage. The only advantage they and everyone for that matter has is that the tyres are not letting RedBull run away with it.

  2. “Long Beach once again is being mooted as a possible F1 venue for 2016”

    The other issue with Long Beach as a possible F1 venue is FOM’s insistence that either the local or in the US, the state government, be ultimately responsible for the money of hosting a GP. With California effectively bankrupt there is no way they would or could make that guarantee.

  3. Jenson is now whingeing to selected media that his “private” messages to the team at Bahrain were selected by the TV companies for broadcast to the public. Autosport reports today:

    “The problem with the radio is that my message is not meant for the masses, it’s meant for the team,” explained the 2009 world champion, who said he did not intend his comments to be made public.

    “In a way it’s a pity that TV companies just choose the messages they want, because they can come across in the wrong way.

    “I was obviously angry, but the anger was supposed to be kept within the team, because I am radioing the team, I’m not radioing TV companies.”

    There you go. It is the TV companies at fault now. I thought it was FOM/FIA who decided which radio messages are selected for broadcast.

    • The sign of a man under pressure… Maybe he should drive for Red Bull where they blame everyone and everything except accepting responsibility for their actions and getting on with it.

      Now Mr Button, now you know what it feels like when someone comes to “your” team and win them over. Maybe you should go have a chat with Hamilton and you two can discuss your feelings?

      Still way to early to say but I do hope Perez is the real deal 🙂

      • It’s a crowded space for the ‘new kids’ with Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton , Button and Kimi – all world champions – all in the (theoretical) best cars/teams.

  4. “There appears to be a feeling that the rush to host F1 races across the globe has settled down somewhat.” Admittedly, the number of new races introduced recently has been unsustainable, with several years seeing one or two new races finally adding up to a completely different landscape for the calendar. If the trend continued, eventually even some of the new races would be under threat from even newer ones, and if this was the case then governments and private investors would not put forward the money to invest in a long term project if it would only be used for the short term. However, as the newly emerging markets become more prominent, it would be foolish for a series with global investors not to expand by doing races in these countries, as we have seen with Brazil (got lucky with this one, considering this was before Formula One came up with an expansion strategy) China, India and Russia (theoretically, soon). As they are unlikely to be able to rely on a driver participating for a team if the infrastructure is not there, then they will need to create it, and have a race there as a catalyst for greater involvement by that country in the series. Ultimately, I suspect that if there is a shift in global economic power, Formula One will slowly follow it. Who knows, maybe the top countries on the list of real GDP growth rates will soon be hosting races, possibly leading to a F1 Grand Prix complimenting the famous Formula Three race in Macau, or seeing Mercedes dominate a Grand Prix in Libya for the first time since a three year period of domination between 1937 and 1939 (although those are extreme examples!). It will be calm now, but maybe in fifteen or twenty years, the rush might begin again.

  5. Seems like Ferrari finishing eleventh in the WCC would make for a perfect distribution of wealth among the teams.

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