Daily F1 News and Comment: Thursday 2nd May 2013

This page will be updated throughout today

Comment of the day

From TJ13 reader Stephen Hughes who sums up the ‘gay’ F1 debate pretty conclusively.

“I remember reading a piece a year or more back about gay drivers in F1. A number of names were mentioned, including Ralf Schumacher, Adrian Sutil and even Alonso!

I can’t remember the source but someone was quoted as saying that there was a current or recent driver who is gay – the consensus was Ralf due to somewhere he’d been spotted.

Not that it really matters, there have probably been a few, I guess the point at which we find out will be when it becomes a good career move to be known as gay, otherwise what does it really matter to the public?”

Giant Globe Trotting Antipodean Rodents extinction is nigh

We first encountered these beasties during the practice sessions in Melbourne a few weeks back. Clearly the race control to car communications were not working and a recent infestation of local rodents were feared by some to have chewed vital cabling.

untitledThe problem then re-emerged a week later in Sepang, Malaysia and the natural and reasonable assumption was now that these beasts from the outback had discovered Air Asia and were off on a gnawing globe trotting spree to disrupt the evil empire of Mr. E – where ever he may choose to rest for a while.

Exciting as this sounded – particularly because it made the FIA look rather silly for not doing proper site checks – it became slowly apparent that the culprits for this malaise were not particularly hairy with big teeth. The responsibility did in fact lie with a bunch of engineers – of the human variety.

These specimens interestingly have visual characteristics quite the opposite of the giant globe trotting antipodean rodents in that frequently they are observed to have a hair deficiency – particularly on top of the pate.

Whilst deemed to be at the top of the intelligence tree on planet earth, these boffins have struggled to get the pretty lights on the drivers’ steering wheels to work for nigh on 2 months now. BUT, change is promised for Barcelona.

untitledJust as we have a collective noun to describe the ‘colony of Aussie beats’ – the collective of engineers responsible for such global humiliation is ‘Riedel Communications’. They were threatened that should the F1 mega stars not get the right beeps and flashes – which makes them driver properly – in Bahrain, their contract to supply the FIA would be terminated.

Yet as with everything else in life Jean Todt has been slow to anger and Riedel have been extended further opportunities to perfect their splitting of the neutron. This  stay of execution was believed to be pragmatic when Charlie sat Le Presidente down and suggested that it might take quite some time for the teams to re-wire their rocket ships for a retrograde fit of the 2012 system.

Well it is now announced that all is well – Rentokill triumph again – driver race steward Mr. Derek Warwick (aka the Silver Fox) revealed last evening that the electronic race marshalling system is fixed. “We’ve been told they’ve got an upgrade which is going to Barcelona and then it’ll be working from there.”

Maybe Reidel Communications are employing the Pirelli marketing philosophy. Manufacture something that doesn’t do what most people think it should to gain global publicity for the company?

For those interested we will be seeing the Silver Fox on duty as a steward at his home British Grand Prix as well as in Belgium, Singapore and South Korea. Interestingly he commented on the alleged slide in stewarding standards of discipline. “The FIA has asked us to be lighter on fines for the drivers, but we still have the same tools available to us for other punishments.”

untitledHaving had their pockets picked by ‘consensus Jean’, drivers have seen a huge rise in the cost of their mandatory super-licences. In turn they were assured by the governing body they would be fined less for rules infringements where a financial sanction is at the stewards’ discretion.

Apparently this does not include the offence of speeding in the pitlane, with fines laid down in the sporting regulations. Under article 30.12, a limit of 60kph is imposed for all free practice sessions and 100kph for the race. Drivers face a 200 euros ($260) fine for every kph over the limit in practice and qualifying.

So alls well that ends well. The F1 drivers will once again know how to play properly with their toys and Charlie can return to running a higher profile ship of race stewards who will invariably begin to attract our attentions now that 4 races into the season they can finally do the job they are there to do.

New Jersey – You’ve got to be joking

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All the talk this week about Long Beach California is about as convincing as the suggestion Vijay’s Airline will ever fly again. The investment required by a promoter to upgrade the street circuit and associated facilities to gain FIA grade 1 accreditation is astromical – and the good citizens of California would refuse to pay for it.

TJ13 reported 2 days ago that the rush of new venues clamouring to host an F1 event has diminished significantly in recent years. Added to this is the likelyhood that Korea will fall off the calendar, Nurburgring has been gifted the race for 2013 and is unlikely to restart its $40m a year payments to FOM any time soon and Belgium has a bargain 3 year deal due to its inability to pay the full hosting fee.

What then is coming on stream? Sochi 2014 – most probably. Bankok – a long way off being sorted. Mexico 2015 – very likely and errr… that was the other one…… Oh yes New York  – sorry New Jersey.

Aha, I can hear Bernie mumbling, “If you don’t hurry up lads, we’ll give the second F1 race in the USA to California”. So where are the New Jersey organisers at? The last we heard from them was that they were struggling to get all the necessary permits together.

Anyway, lets have a look at the New Jersey proposition. Here was the grand announcement made overlooking the Hudson River and the skyline of Manhattan.

Race promoter is Leo Hindery Jnr and his day job is to be Managing Partner of InterMedia Partners who are – wait for it – are a New York-based media industry private equity fund.

We know a little about these don’t we? Toto has one which is paying for him to play team boss in Brackley. Bernie has one – CVC – who paid $5bn for a media network that will never make a proper return on the investment. McLaren are part owned by an Arabian version, though here all the money comes from one family – the Al Khalifa’s. LDC, part of Lloyds Banking Group until recently owned 25% of Marussia F1.

These funds use other peoples money – ‘investors’ cash – to buy speculative businesses/entities with a view to making multi 100’s of percentage returns. The investors will only lend them the money if they believe the target acquisition has some chance of sucess.

Let’s have a look a little closer at the exact proposal for the New Jersey race. Local politicians were cited frequently that this would be like bringing ‘Monte Carlo’ to Jersey. See what you think in this clip. Pay attention to what you see from about 3:10 into the clip – the construction of the new pits.

I’m not so convinced this area of planet earth will have the same glistening harbour that we see in Monaco, the exquisite eateries and hostelries scattered around the circuit and neither will the New Jersey drawl endear itself to F1 folk in quiet the manner that the poetic ruthyms of  south European Riviera accent.

TJ13 recruited ‘Adrian’ – who recently featured in a B movie zombie production – to take a more recent look at the area for the proposed New Jersey Formula 1 circuit. Note the pits are now fully constructed and where do you think the paddock club will be?

If you had the time to watch both of the last 2 clips in full – and I know some of it was kind of repetition – you may be getting the distinct feeling this is all rather surreal. Remember, the state of New Jersey has been promised by its Governor – the rather obese Chris Christie (in clip No.1) – that not a dime of public money will be spent on this project.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to come on this story and if you read TJ13 and live in the New York/Jersey region we’d be interested to hear from you. For now we’ll leave the final word with the aptly named – Derek DeAngelis – he explains clearly the none sense of the entire proposal with some humour.

Singapore GP gets global premiere

The world premiere of the film “Rush” has been set for Thursday September 19th, one day before the official premiere in American cinemas, and it will be held at the Grand Prix of Singapore.

untitledThe film about the 1976 Formula 1 season 1976 and explores the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt.

After his serious accident at the Grand Prix of Germany at the Nürburgring in 1976 which could have taken his life, Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) returns in Fuji Japan to continue his rivalry with James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) in the struggle for F1 drivers’ world title.

The film was shot on location in the UK, Germany and Austria including the former military airport Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire, Snetterton (Norfolk), Cadwell Park (Lincolnshire), Brands Hatch (Kent) and at the Nürburgring in Germany. In the car racing scenes both original and replicas were used.

Whether the actors will attend the premiere in Singapore, is not yet clear.

Yet the race promoters in Singapore appear to make a big effort to create a real atmosphere around the F1 weekend. Following qualifying the global band ‘the Killers’ will be performing on the Saturday evening at the venue.

If you live in Singapore or have attended the race – please give us your thoughts in the comment section below on how the weekend feels when you’re there.

F1 and subscription TV

The transition of F1 to subscription TV is not going well in the UK and presumably Italy, France and Germany too. Of course the numbers will be higher for people watching F1 related content during a GP week than at other times, so here – courtesy of BARB – are SKY’s top 10 programmes for the week to the 21st April 2013.

1 – 722k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix (Sunday, 11:30)
2 – 487k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying (Saturday, 11:00)
3 – 130k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix Practice 3 (Saturday, 08:45)
4 – 97k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix Practice 1 (Friday, 07:45)
5 – 78k – The F1 Show (Friday, 16:00)
6 – 75k – Ted’s Bahrain Qualifying Notebook (Sunday, 11:15)
7 – 72k – Legends (Saturday, 10:13)
8 – 64k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix Practice 2 (Friday, 11:45)
9 – 50k – Legends (Saturday, 10:22)
10 – 45k – GP Uncovered (Sunday, 16:16)

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Here are the figures for the same week in 2012

1 – 819k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix (Sunday, 11:30)
2 – 462k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix: Qualifying (Saturday, 11:00)
3 – 186k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix: Practice 3 (Saturday, 08:45)
4 – 121k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix: Practice 2 (Friday, 11:45)
5 – 101k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix: Practice 1 (Friday, 07:45)
6 – 80k – Behind the Scenes at Mercedes (Saturday, 10:15)
7 – 58k – F1 Legends (Saturday, 10:25)
8 – 57k – Live Bahrain Grand Prix: GP2 Race 1 (Saturday, 13:40)
9 – 53k – Bahrain Grand Prix: Qualifying Replay (Saturday, 15:10)
10 – 53k – Bahrain Grand Prix: Practice 2 Replay (Friday, 17:01)

There was a combined all of around 5% across the BBC and SKY for total viewing of the race.

Sky have introduced cheaper ways to watch their F1 service and still there is a fall in viewing figures. Here are the annual costs of subscribing to SKY should you wish to watch only the F1 races not covered live by the BBC.

– £210.00 – Sky Go Monthly Ticket (£35.00 per month based on calendar date – no tie in) – you need 6 tickets for the 10 exclusive races
– £199.80 – NOW TV – Qualifying and Race (£9.99 per day)
– £99.90 – NOW TV – Race (£9.99 per day)

 Who the hell is Astana?

I hear you cry. Well it is a capital city. Imagine having London, Paris or Madrid plastered on an F1 car. Granted Astana sounds more feminine and exotic.

Kazakhstani investment business TAK Group will see the Kazakhstani capital, Astana, promoted as part of a new partnership with the Williams F1 Team.

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The Astana name will be positioned on the SIS vane and outer nose struts on the Williams-Renault FW35 from the Spanish Grand Prix onwards in a move that is hoped will bring both sporting and tourism benefits to the city.

Since 1997 Astana has been the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan and is a UNESCO World City.  Situated on a bank of the Ishim River, it has become a significant business centre in the region and will be the site of Expo 2017 which focuses on future technologies and our ‘energy future’.

There are a number of ambitious infrastructure projects planned and under way designed to promote the city emerge as one of the region’s leading tourist destinations.

Sporting Working Group to meet in Barcelona

On the agenda is the 2014 extra and earlier winter testing and also they will revisit the idea of awarding penalty points to drivers who transgress the rules.

Charlie Whiting said earlier this year, “It’s a complex question and we need to get the balance right because banning a driver is a serious issue and we need to make sure a driver genuinely deserves any ban. We will be monitoring offences and running a [hypothetical] system in the background to see how it would all work if put into practice. We need to do that for a while.”

Red Bull new alternator supplier

ItaliaRacing is reporting that following a number of issues with their alternator, Red Bull have ditched Magneti Marelli as the supplier in favour of TAG. Dietrich Mateschitz reportedly decided this and is quoted as saying, “I want Renault to separate from its supplier Magneti Marelli and use someone else.”

Apparently only Red Bull amongst the Renault engine customers have made this move and Magneti Marelli continues to supply alternators for the others in the engine stable.

The devil in me wants to ask, wasn’t that Christian’s call? Oh well… “more coffee Adrian?”

Wurz takes up driver management

Ex formula one driver and Williams driver coach Alex Wurz signs his first driver, 19-year-old Briton Alex Lynn, who presently is racing in the European F3 series. His new manager comments in typical efficient Germanic fashion, “He is an exceptional talent and I look forward to helping him get to Formula 1.”

Son of Jean Todt, Nicolas has been making his way in driver management. His stable includes Felipe Massa, Pastor Maldonado and Jules Bianchi, and today he has signed up 23-year-old GP2 driver James Calado. “His talent and attitude have made a big impression on me,”  says Nicolas admiringly. “I hope he is able to compete for the title in GP2 and prove he worthy of Formula 1.”

‘Filming day’ for Caterham

Having attended proper filming days where teams are shooting promotional material, I suspect what was occurring in Magny Cours was one of the alternative versions of this event. Heikki newly reunited with Caterham was captured pounding around in the rain for the ‘photographers’ who noticed a new vanity panel on the CT03 which smooths out the stepped nose.

In another exercise in brevity, Kovalainen tweeted on stepping out of the car, “We managed to get everything done”.

The 2nd day of ‘filming’ appears to have been abandoned as Alexander Rossi tweets “So day 2 of driving up and down a field has been postponed due to excessive rain and giving the locals a chance to recover their hearing. ;)”

Jaques Lafitte

Is obviously French, and an ex F1 driver who was moderately good. In fact in his 13 year career he won 6 races and was 4th in the WDC for 3 consecutive years between 1979 and 1981.  The recent clamour to revive the French GP was spearheaded by Alain Prost, but working closely with him was Jaques.

Today speaking to Le Journal du Centre newspaper monsieur Lafitte is downbeat in his assessment, “I doubt formula one will return to Magny Cours. If the regional authorities have no such desire, it is not possible to organise the Grand Prix.”

Laffite believes there are good reasons for having a Grand Prix. “It can be compared to Canada; when the race was not held for a year, Montreal lost 92 million dollars.” he claims. Then adds, “Formula one is a very profitable sporting event.”

Kimi attends Red Bull extravaganza

If ‘the Iceman’ wished to dispel rumours of a move to Red Bull in 2014, then his appearance yesterday at the Red Bull event in the Austrian Zillertal will do no such thing. Kimi was with David Coulthard and 20,000 spectators at an event where there were F1 cars, MotoGP bikes, rally trucks and much more.

One of the highlights was Felix Baumgartner of sky diving fame driving a car from the NASCAR series taking Coulthard for a spin as a passenger. The proceeds from the annual event have traditionally gone to support the Red Bull charity ‘Wings for Life’.

The charity provides targeted financial support for important research projects focusing on curing paraplegia. Wings for Life also supports revolutionary compensatory treatments, which promise to significantly improve the quality of life of paraplegic patients.

TJ13 apology

This day was always bound to come when under the threat of enormous litigation we must retract a previous statement/impression someone claims misrepresents reality or the truth. Last week there was a discussion here on TJ13 as to whether the Al Khalifa investment fund (aka Mumtalakat holdings) has received value for money for it’s $400m investment into the British McLaren Group.

The following picture was published. With the caption – “$400m!!! And you built this!!!”

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Mumtalakat holdings would you to know that this is not all they have received for their $400m. Apparently Ron and the gang at the MTC have produced this special 1 off (non-working shh don’t tell) prototype and had it delivered to the Bahraini Royal Palace for display.

Ladies and gentlemen I present to you the McLaren MP4-12C X-1

On this day in F1: James Hunt started from pole and went on to win the Spanish Grand Prix. Year and venue anyone?

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HRT resurrection

After the fuss in January about Scorpian Racing taking over the remnants of HRT and going racing in F1, a far more sensible idea has emerged today.

untitledTeo Martin, new owner of the HRT Formula 1, and Carlos Mollá, founder of Best Lap, a company specialized in F1 events, reach an agreement in order to run two 2011 HRT F1  cars in the B.O.S.S series.

Martin acquired at the assets of HRT and amongst them are two 2011 chassis with apparently all the necessary equipment to operate these vehicles. On the other side of the agreement is the businessman Carlos Mollá, whose motorsport involvement has included being founding partner of the Epsilon Euskadi team and he created the Spanish company Best Lap F1 which specialises in putting on F1 events with their 2 Formula 1 three-seater cars.
Both Spanish businessmen want to take the only F1 cars with a “Spanish brand” in the GP history racing again on a ‘competitive’ level.

Teo will provide the equipment and material from the former HRT team and Carlos will be responsible for finalising the two 2011 F1 chassis, and rebuilding the engines necessary to compete. He will also manage the team that will attempt to have both cars ready by the end of May, with the aim to bring them back in race action still this year.

untitledThe European B.O.S.S. Festivals are open stand alone races for all types of B.O.S.S. cars on an invitation basis. The abbreviation B.O.S.S. stands for Big Open Single Seater and seeks to attract, “the fastest, noisiest and most powerful cars of the international single seater classes from past and present”.

The series organisers claim, “Over 50 of the most powerful and noisiest B.O.S.S. cars with drivers from all around Europe but also from the US and Brazil have already taken part, alone more than 200.000 spectators have enjoyed the spectacular races in 2012”. More fans than F1 attract in Korea and Bahrain and probably India combined then

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8 responses to “Daily F1 News and Comment: Thursday 2nd May 2013

  1. “The investment required by a promoter to upgrade the street circuit and associated facilities to gain FIA grade 1 accreditation is astronomical.”

    If Long Beach are unable to ‘upgrade’ their circuit what makes anybody think Bangkok will manage… It’s a popular place and I presume many TJ13 readers will have been there… and seen the roads. We are not talking about ‘upgrading’ but the need for a major road etc. rebuild… 😉

    Leo Hindery Jr: “The French, Canadian, Spanish… AND the European GPs. 🙂

    New Jersey… LOL…! What ‘B*S*T… 🙂 [from the cyclist]
    BUT… Derek deAngelis should replace Todt… Come on down…!
    Whatever he says, he knows how to say it – which would make a change from Whispering Jean… 😉

    Singers GP: I was there for the first one – god, it was noisy… quite a change from Brands Hatch. Great experience, much of which came from being at night.

  2. Strange, i thought i read an article somewhere, where Rob White said Renault builds the alternators themselves and they use various suppliers for different parts.
    So Renault is responsible for the alternator and Marelli in no way to blame.

  3. “Felix Baumgartner from NASCAR”

    That would have been a neat trick as Felix Baumgartner doesn’t drive in NASCAR nor does Red Bull own a NASCAR team anymore.

  4. “One of the highlights was Felix Baumgartner from NASCAR taking Coulthard for a spin as a passenger.”
    I thought Felix was the sky diving dude not a NASCAR driver??

  5. Pingback: Daily #F1 News and Comment: Saturday 24 August | thejudge13·

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