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FIA Press Conferences
As always, we love to kick off the F1 race weekend with the mystifying event that is the FIA drivers’ press conference. Here are the schedues.
Thursday, May 09, 1500 hours local time (1300 GMT)
Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Valtteri Bottas (Williams), Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber), Sergio Perez (McLaren), Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull).
Friday, May 10, 1600 hours local time (1400 GMT)
Mike Coughlan (Williams), Andrew Green (Force India), Dave Greenwood (Marussia), Adrian Newey (Red Bull), Nikolas Tombazis (Ferrari), Mark Smith (Caterham).
Suggested questions for the participants please in the comments section below 🙂
FIA Stewards for the Spanish GP
PRESIDENT OF THE FIA HILL CLIMB COMMISSION, BOARD MEMBER AND PRESIDENT OF AUTO SPORT SUISSE SARL
Paul Gutjahr started racing in the late 1960s with Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Lotus and Porsche, then March in Formula 3. In the early ‘70s he became President of the Automobile Club Berne and organised numerous events. He acted as President of the organising committee of the Swiss GP at Dijon between 1980-82.
Between 1980-2005 he acted as President of the Commission Sportive Nationale de l’Automobile Club de Suisse and in 2005 he became President and board member of the Auto Sport Suisse motor sports club. Gutjahr is President of the Alliance of European Hill Climb Organisers and has been steward at various high-level international competitions. He was the Formula 3000 Sporting Commissioner and has been a Formula One steward since 1995.
PRESIDENT, FIA CIRCUITS COMMISSION; PRESIDENT OF AUTORITE SPORTIVE NATIONALE DU CANADA (ASN)
Roger Peart is a civil engineer by training and designed the Gilles Villeneuve circuit, Home of the Canadian Grand Prix since 1978. In the years 1949-1953 he gained his first experience of motor sport, working as a racing mechanic while still at school in the UK. By 1960 he had become a competitor. Until 1963 he drove in the Canadian National Rally Championship, before switching to racing from 1964 to 1976.
In 1967 Peart became involved in the organisation of Canadian motor sport and was instrumental in getting the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve onto the F1 calendar. Since 1991 Peart has been President of ASN Canada FIA and, since 1999, President of the FIA Circuits Commission.
1980 FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPION
Alan Jones makes his fourth appearance in the stewards’ room, having made his debut at the 2010 Korean Grand Prix, and returned in 2011 to adjudicate at Suzuka and in 2012 for the Indian Grand Prix. Best known as the 1980 Formula One World Champion, the Australian raced far and wide, competing everywhere from Can-Am and Formula 5000 to Le Mans and Australian Touring Cars. In his F1 career Jones won 12 grands prix, took six pole positions and set 13 fastest laps. While usually associated with the Williams team, Jones’ first grand prix victory came at the 1977 Austrian Grand Prix while racing for Shadow.
Not sure the old hand Luca Colajanni dismissed as F1 head of communications this winter would have phrased things like this. Anyway here was a tweet from Ferrari yesterday. “We remember you to share with us your questions using
In case you missed it, Ferrari have a new head of communications – Renato Bisignani – and here was the article from TJ13 on who he is and where he’s from. (Here)
Testing discussions: Part 2
Yesterday TJ13 reported that the teams were in discussions over testing and that these talks were of grave importance for the future of any cost reduction programme the teams may at persent be paying lip service to.
McLaren’s Jonathan Neale has now commented on the up-coming vote. “Formula One appears to be about to test itself again on its commitment to different types of testing. We’ll see when there is a vote on the subject, but I think right now there are four teams who are in favour of going track testing.
Clearly if you’ve got a circuit in your backyard already funded and have the IT equipment you want to roll up the shutters and push the driver out.”
Neale quantifies the costings. “I would be really surprised if a team could do a day’s track testing for much less than between £70,000-£100,000 in Europe. By the time you’ve got the cars, flights and all the people it must be in that order.
Yet in some quarters they are pushing very hard for the re-introduction of track testing and I don’t see anything different in the environment – the economic environment is still precarious – that would take us back to track testing.”
As I predicted yesterday, this vote may be fairly pointless because regardless of the majority opinion the invisible FIA Presidente – Jean Todt who is electioneering at present – has decided the FIA will not oversee or police any RRA agreement.
Then we have 4 of the 11 teams outside FOTA, so if Ferrari decide to do as they please, who can stop them?
UPDATE 0900 GMT: AP News are reporting Abu Dhabi has approached the Formula 12 teams to formally offer their facility for winter testing. Richard Cregan who runs the Yas Marina venue comments, “There is an interest to do pre-season testing outside of Europe which would be of interest to us. It seems particularly related to the new engine where they obviously want to test the new engine configurations in harsh conditions.”
TJ13 comment: As suggested yesterday – is this the thin end of the wedge?
UPDATE 1057 GMT: Reports are emerging that the teams vote on increasing testing was very close. 6-5 have voted against further testing of any sort. This includes the much debated 4th winter test for ‘engine’ assesment of the new V6 Turbo’s.
No details have yet emerged on who voted how, though the natural assumption would be 4 of the 5 wishing to increase testing would be the non FOTA teams, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Red Bull and Ferrari. It wouldn’t be a wild punt to hazard a guess that the 5th team was Marussia. Whilst they do not have the current budget for extra testing, they are looking more and more like they may become a Ferrari satellite team – particularly if Bernie refuses to wedge them in with some Concorde cash.
New Jersey update
TJ13 reported last week in a video ensemble the ridiculous state of the New Jersey proposition to host the Grand Prix of America. (Article)
Well it appears the local media in New Jersey have a similar opinion. Today New Jersey local news site NJ.Com reports there are serious problems facing the race organisers.
This week chief marketing officer, Trip Wheeler, and chief financial officer, Michael Cummings, have left the Grand Prix of America organisation. These departures follow the resignation of Tom Cotter who was president of organisation prior to Christmas.
Optimistically a GPoA spokesperson announced, “While we have not yet named replacements, duties have been absorbed by our executive team and we look forward to announcing additional staff as we approach next year’s race.
Race progress, including permitting and course construction, continues to move forward and we are on pace for a world-class race in 2014,” a statement by the organisation reads this week.
The biggest question is how can a new F1 race – and a street race at that – be hosted without government funding. The Governor of New Jersey this week still believes this is possible. “I’ve been told by Leo Hindery, they don’t need them [state dollars], so, that’s the end of the discussion. The guy in charge of the formula race has told me he doesn’t need them [state subsidies]. I told him we’re not giving them. So there’s really not a discussion.”
Weehawken (the derelict area of the proposed GP) Mayor, Richard Turner, is circumspect when asked this week how confident he was F1 drivers would be firing up their engines in his town next year. “I have to take them at their word that the race is going forward. There have been so many squabbles in the past we can’t rule out another one.”
As I maintained last week, the scrap of industrial land (shown in the videos) in New Jersey looks nothing like a place to hold a Formula 1 GP. Only Silverstone and Monza currently run without state funding.So for New Jersey to believe they will deliver a street race from merely ”real estate’ investors buying waste land and developing it into some kind of Monaco waterfront is simply an ‘only in America’ dream – which by the way the property investors have so far shunned because they perceive it to be just a nightmare.
Silverstone gets Lottery funding
The historic Northamptonshire circuit has beaten stiff competition to be one of the 6 UK national projects to receive a share of £68m. Subject to detailed plans being agreed, Silverstone will use the £9.1m to partly fund a £20m Formula 1 heritage centre.
The Guardian reports, “The plans include creating exhibition space, a 200-seat cinema which will give people the feeling of being behind the wheel at Silverstone and a new building for the archive of the British Racing Drivers’ Club, to which the public will have public access”.
The history of Silverstone and the surrounding county will be traced back from Saxon times and include a feature from WWII when the circuit was in fact an airbase for Wellington bombers. Sally Reynolds, Silverstone development director believes, “It is a very exciting project. The UK and certainly the area around Silverstone plays a unique role in world motorsport, it is responsible for effectively exporting motorsport to the world.”
Whether Silverstone can attract people en masse who are visiting the UK to make this a ‘must see’ tourist attraction is questionable. However, for British motorsport fans this is a welcome addition to the circuit that has become the home of British motorsport.
The sights of European F1 racing
If you follow anyone from F1 on twitter, you’ll be sick and tired of the ‘Ahh… back in Europe and…” sentiments. I say this not because Europe is bad (non Lewis use of bad) in fact with just 7 races left and Germany and Belgium looking flakey, European F1 racing may become a rare event if Ecclestone has his way.
I digress. Motorhomes, motorhomes, otorhomes is all everyone is tweeting about. Take this from Jenny Gow of the BBC a few minutes ago. “Just arrived in Barcelona at the circuit. Nice easy flight in and the motorhomes looks impressive already”.
Just for those of you who may not realise the significance of this. The bigger teams have spent gazillions on what are the modern versions of corrugated sheds. They are made out of space age lightweight materials and have diamond studded wallpaper inside for the entertainment of their ‘corporate guests’. Milk and honey flow freely from all and the latest plasma TV’s are glaring down at you from every angle.
It’s a bloke thing and before the global recession, the bigger teams were having a race to impress the chicks with their temporary but most opulent of palaces.
So why are these monsters particular to Europe. Well in a moment of lucidity, Mr. E ensures that all the new circuits build permanent structures for the teams to use for driver massages, media and entertainment purposes behind the pit garages. This removes the need to ship this gargantuan tin huts around the planet.
I heard over the winter from my sources at Mercedes AMG F1 that the team were going to make some changes in respect of their European motorhome. They will claim this is In the spirit of the RRA (and to probably still be able to afford their battalion of technical directors).
Lewis was given the opportunity to receive less money than McLaren offered (if you believe Whitmarsh) and a nice motorhome – or less money than McLaren offered – but a bit more than first suggested – if he, his ‘gal’ and Roscoe would bunk down for the night in this.
Fawlty Towers in Maranello
All this talk of flash accommodation has my mind wandering back to the quintessential English B&B, where the door is locked at 11pm sharp and the landlady refuses you ‘company’ in your single room. John Cleese exported a slightly up market version of this to the global consciousness in the classic 12 episode series, Fawlty Towers.
For those of you whose lives are blighted from no knowledge of this epic rendering of English humour, Cleese (Basil) , his wife, Polly the pretty maid and Manwell (the stupid Spanish waiter) run an upmarket B&B in a manner much to the horror and dismay of most guests. One of my favourite exchanges is as follows.
Basil Fawlty: Polly, what’s that smell?
Polly: Flowers, I just got them from the garden.
Basil Fawlty: Well, what are you stinking the place up with those for? What’s happened to the plastic ones?
Polly: Being ironed.
I digress. Put simply, Manwell gets blamed for Basil’s misdemeanours so when questioned by either proprietor his version of ‘no comment’ is ‘I know nothing’.
Anyway it would seem there has been an invasion of British humour at Maranello. When questioned about the imminent arrival of James Allison, in true Manwell style Luca de Montezemolo said, “I know nothing”…… He did add, “so I cannot deny anything. As far as I know, these are just rumours. I will say something if there is something to say.”
If there is anyone from any corner of the planet who knows nothing of Fawlty Towers, here’s a short clip from where the inspiration for Ill Padrino’s denial was derived.
Circuit de Catalunya Facts
Nice to see you were all foxed by yesterdays, uno, dos tres quick quiz. The answere to the question that amazed me was regarding the uniqueness of Pastor Maldonado’s win. Apparently in 22 years of hosting a Grand Prix, every winner at the CdC except Maldonado has won another race during the same calendar year.
AMuS is reporting the teams have agreed a penalty point system. Voting again, 7 out of 11 agreed the following table of sin and penalties. A driver reaching 12 points receives a race ban. Grid penalties would still apply.
The matter is now for the FIA to ponder and possibly implement.
|Exceeded the speed limit (at any time) by more than 20kph||3|
|Caused a dangerous collision||3|
|Ignored the black flag||3|
|Exceeded the speed limit (at any time) by 10-20kph||2|
|Caused a collision||2|
|Dangerously impeded another driver||2|
|Dangerously forced another driver off the track||2|
|Drove too quickly in a yellow or red flag situation||2|
|Ignored the blue flag||2|
|Overtook the Safety Car||2|
|Exceeded the Safety Car delta time||2|
|Dangerous exit from a pit stop||2|
|Ignored the weigh station during qualifying||2|
|Missed the drivers’ briefing or arrived late||1|
|Exceeded the speed limit (at any time) by up to 10kph||1|
|Impeded another driver||1|
|Forced another driver off the track||1|
|Gained an advantage by leaving the track||1|
|Crossed the white line at the pit lane exit||1|
|Ignored the red light at the pit lane exit||1|
|Overtook another car under the Safety Car||1|
|Failed to maintain correct distance to the Safety Car||1|
Where will he go? Red Bull have categorically denied they are interested. Toto has said Mercedes were ‘historically’ speaking to James Allison before they bagged Paddy Lowe but that all ‘stopped’ when he joined the team.
The we have Il Padrino is doing his Manwell impression, denying all knowledge of any Ferrari discussions with the Lotus ex-Technical Director and we have only the word of the BBC that McLaren have denied there is anything going on between them and James.
Williams et al appear unlikely options for someone on the ‘up’ in F1 and all this denial has led to speculation that Allison has just jumped ship because Lotus have financing problems. James Allen responding to a comment in his blog gives this theory some credence too.
Other F1 writers ‘in the know’ state categorically a deal is done and a gagging clause is preventing Allison from revealing his destination. I looked at the possible reasons for gagging on a team by team basis in yesterday’s news.
ESPNF1 have an interesting couple of comments from McLaren’s MD, Jonathan Neale today. Responding to a question on how the Woking outfit are coping with life after Paddy he reveals, “We’ve realigned slightly internally and we are still going through those adaptations.”
In terms of preparations for 2014 it [Lowe leaving] is not an issue for us”. However Neale goes on to add, “I need to make sure, though, that we have got somebody who is championing us, as Paddy was, in the longer-term research and development programme. Keeping the stuff that is further away alive is important. But Tim and the guys are doing a good job on the here and now.”
If that isn’t a suggestion McLaren need to recruit – I don’t know what is. We could rephrase this as follows – the ‘here and now’ and 2014 is under Tim’s control, but we need someone for matters further down the line.
Sudden changes/additions to senior personnel in any organisation is unnerving for other’s in management positions. Were McLaren to be having discussions with James Allison, they can hardly begin the internal debate over why additional management resource would be beneficial – before a deal is done.
Why? Because having persuaded the senior management team, including Tim, that additional resource is required if the deal doesn’t get done, it then leaves those currently holding the fort feeling under resourced and exposed. Not good when you have a car miles behind where it should be.
So, that internal reasoned debate is best left until McLaren knows it has procured the services of a new manager/director. They can then begin to persuade those internally in senior positions of the worth another body on board brings.
This would then explain the need for a gagging clause, and why the party line is at present – nothing is going on between Allison and ourselves.
Neale’s statement is absolutely the first time we have heard an admission from McLaren they may be suffering due to Paddy’s departure. Previously the message from Woking has been that ‘we are strong and bring through our own talent’.
So why admit this now? Is it part of the initiation of internal conversations suggesting they could do with recruiting some senior assistance to look after the ‘longer term’. issues?
Any other business arrives towards the end of a board meeting and Chairman Ron suggests, ‘What about trying to get this James Allison chap to joins us lads? There’s a job we need doing and you guys are pretty flat out with this year and next year’s cars. thoughts anyone?’ An almost unnoticeable twitch flickers briefly across the corner of his mouth.
Cancel any hope of an Alonso win in Barcelona
Il Padrino has just announced he is coming to Barcelona this weekend to discuss the problems with the unsigned Concorde agreement with Bernie.