Daily F1 News and Comment: Monday 20th May 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day

BMW and Formula 1

BMW is not an automotive or racing brand you would associate most with Formula One success. Their early forays into the sport were as a works team in 1952, 53, 67, 68, 69. However they only entered the German GP race in each of those years and of the 13 cars entered in those races, they achieved only 5 finished and none higher than 10th place.

Of course BMW supplied engines to Formula 1 too. During 2 periods, 1981-88 and 2000-05, they supplied Brabham, ATS, Arrows, Benneton and Ligier, and in the second stint were the engine supplier to the Williams team who were on a downward slide from the glory days of  the earlier decades.

During 15 seasons as an engine supplier, BMW powered F1 cars started 618 times and managed 19 race wins: Nelson Piquet (7), Ralf Schumacher (6), Juan Pablo Montoya (4), Riccardo Patrese (1) and Gerhard Berger (1)

The four seasons 2006-2009, the German manufacturer competed as BMW Sauber – a works team – and over the 70 races entered, the team one once with Kubica driving in Canada 2008. Kubica was paired with Nick Heidfeld that year and they managed to bring home the team 3rd in the WCC in 2008.

Following the Honda announcement to re-enter F1 from 2015, today City A.M. are reporting  that Ecclestone is confident BMW will also return to Formula One. “I would be surprised if we don’t see BMW again. The amount of money they spent [last time] was not significant in the grand scheme of things. It makes sense for them to return.”

This appears at present to be purely speculative and the reasoning behind this assumption whilst logical [as we discussed last week] is far from certain. The thinking appears to be – Honda spend $1bn on F1 in a single year 2008, won nothing, sold the team to Brawn for $1 who cleaned up in 2009 with both titles.

Therefore, if Honda have the gall to show their face again in F1 after that embarrassment and expense, BMW’s mere $700m during the Sauber years is inconsequential. #BerniesLogic

Comment on your favourite BMW F1 moments and we’ll try and dig up some video footage.

UPDATE: GMT 13:14 BMW have rebuffed Ecclestone’s comments. Autosport reports BMW motorsport boss Jens Marquardt saying, “I don’t know with whom Bernie spoke. We are right on top of our current programme, namely DTM. In GT sports cars at the Nordschleife and in ALMS as well as customer sport programmes we are posting super results.

We have absolutely no intention of looking at other categories. We made a conscious decision to withdraw from Formula 1. We orientated ourselves around that which our customers recognise as being BMW. There is no reason to alter this concept. It is currently running very well.

There are always good timing points at which to enter something. For example, we chose the right moment to make our entry into DTM because new regulations were on their way. Now F1 has new engine regulations. That suits Honda and has been noted. However, we have not reacted further.”

So much for #BerniesLogic

Ecclestone stays for now

The Sunday Times reports that the CVC chiefs met in Geneva over the weekend to discuss the ramifications of the charges being brought against Ecclestone in Munich. The decision at present is with the judiciary as to whether proceed to a full trial.

Mr. E thinks they will do this. “I hope they don’t but I think they will, then we will see what happens. That doesn’t mean to say there will be a trial.” Ecclestone is hoping to negotiate a settlement with the German courts though this may not be so easy because plea bargaining doesn’t exist in German law as the defendant is not required to enter a plea.

Apparently the ranks are firm within the commercial rights holder as “Everyone voted to support me staying on and running the business,” said Ecclestone. “The board agrees I should stay unless I’m convicted.”

One would have to believe this decision is not based upon whether Ecclestone is convicted or not, but rather whether he can do a deal with the German courts or whether he finds himself tied up for weeks in Munich and unable to manage the commercial aspects of the F1 business.

Further, it is most definitely in CVC’s interests to defend Mr. E to the hilt. Were the criminal activities proven – their contract for the FIA Formula One commercial rights may be declared void. Then they’ll be no float.

Let’s not forget there is no Concorde Agreement with the FIA and they want a lot more money than CVC/Bernie have been offering.

Paddy Lowe’s garden is finished

Put out to grass by McLaren following Toto Wolff’s leaked revelations he had tapped up their Technical Director, Paddy Lowe is now set to join the Brackley based outfit on June 3rd before the Candaian GP.

In a press release paddy said, “I am excited to become part of a highly talented and capable technical organisation,” commented Lowe. “The team has already produced probably the fastest car of the 2013 season while the technical challenges of the new regulations for 2014 will give us the opportunity to maximise the synergies available to a works manufacturer. That is a challenge I am relishing.

I have worked closely with Mercedes-Benz for almost 20 years and deeply admire the company’s phenomenal commitment to Formula One. I look forward to much success together in the years ahead.”

Mercedes say, “Paddy will strengthen Mercedes AMG Petronas in the role of Executive Director (Technical) and will work closely with Team Principal, Ross Brawn; Executive Director (Business), Toto Wolff (CEO); and the team’s senior technical management. As Team Principal, Ross Brawn will retain overall responsibility for technical and sporting matters.”

Presumably the absence of a specific description of Niki’s role means he will continue to stick his nose in wherever he see’s fit.

Ross Brawn added: “I am delighted to welcome Paddy to the team and to begin working together. He has an excellent record of success in the sport and would be an asset to any of our rivals in the pit lane. It is no secret that every team is facing a significant balancing act between this year and next. But it is perhaps less obvious that we will also see major changes for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, as development progresses with the new generation of car design and Power Unit.

To deliver in these circumstances, a successful team needs strength in depth. Paddy’s arrival will further strengthen our organisation and puts us in a strong position for the future.”

One can only assume this revised earlier than expected start date is because Paddy proved to be more than adept at gardening than first thought and he has completed his landscaping assignment.

Further, the powers that be at McLaren clearly believe following Paddy’s input into the MP4-28, he may in fact do more damage than good when he arrives at Mercedes – thus they’ve allowed him to be released early.

I think he needs to do a bit of admin. Here is Paddy’s twitter account

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Di Resta says Alonso ‘the best’

In what must be viewed as the most thinly of veiled snubs, Paul Di Resta dismisses Vettel’s triple title winning achievements telling Speed Week that Alonso, “He should have been champion in 2012. For me he was the best driver by far”.  On this years contenders Paul believes the winner will be, “Fernando Alonso. Although he had his problems in Malaysia and Bahrain, Ferrari look very strong”.  

Paul is a year older than Sebastian and they raced together in the 2006 Formula 3 Euro Series season. They both raced for ASM a French-based team that had dominated the Euro Series for the last three seasons with three Drivers’ and Teams’ Championship titles in succession.

Of the 10 poles contested, Di Resta won 5 to Vettel’s 1 and in the 20 rounds of racing the Scott won 5 to the German’s 4 and finished with 86 points, 11 clear of Sebastian Vettel. Lewis had romped this championship the year before.

When Vettel joined F1 ahead of Paul, he commented, “He shouldn’t have gotten there before me.”

During 2006 there were 4 other drivers who eventually made it into F1 – Sebastian Buemi, Kamui Kobayashi, Giedo Van de Garde and Romain Grosjean.

Paul must be disappointed to see the McLaren-Honda deal come to fruition because his chance of getting a top drive that is Mercedes powered has now been halved. He surely will struggle to be considered as a replacement for either Hamilton or Rosberg and maybe Paul now see’s his best opportunity to be Felipe Massa’s Ferrari at the end of this year.

Pirelli Backtrack

As was stated firmly on TJ13 last week, the sporting regulations would only allow tyre constructions and compounds to be changed if all the teams agreed, or for safety reasons. This is the case regardless of whether there is a Concorde agreement in place or not.

Pirelli appear to have backtracked from their first position stating they wanted to change the tyres to reduce the number of stops. Paul Hembery tells Reuters today, the aim was “to make the changes that you have to make with minimal disturbance to the sporting equity. What we’re trying to do is find the mid ground and that’s where we’re at. The changes required would appear less than first envisaged.”

Lotus wheeled out Eric to complain about the proposed changes and he stated they had worked specifically to the specification to develop the E21 chassis. Ferrari were more threatening, they pulled a classic Scicilian move by sending Mr. Hembery a message from a horses head.

Paul recognises that, “Some teams have worked in a certain way to maximise the tyre and chassis package and they don’t want that to be lost by radical change. We’re trying to find something that is sportingly equitable amongst the vast majority that allows us to rid ourselves of the tread (problem). We’re hopeful we can do that without making such a change that would radically alter the work of any team so far.”

TJ13 predicted it would take a shift in Pirelli’s position for any change to be legitimate. Hembery is now saying changes will be made to “rid ourselves of the tread (problem)”. Previously the ‘tread problem’ was in fact a newer and safer construction method which enabled the tyre to deflate more safely and slowly.

It is not inconceivable having fought back successfully against significant change being made to the 2013 tyres, certain teams could push even further and demand no change at all. The reason being that Pirelli’s position was that the ‘delaminating’ tread was in fact perfectly safe.

While Felipe Massa suffered punctures twice in Bahrain, Fernando Alonso benefited from the tyre slowly deflating which allowed him to pit without incident for a final set of tyres on the way to his win last week in Barcelona.

Austrian broadcaster ORF considers dropping F1

It appears there has been a change in legislation in Austria and the free to air public broadcaster ORF is losing tax exemptions of some 30m Euros. This is forcing them to consider their programme scheduling beyond 2014 and F1 as a big cost number is in the frame.

Clearly the organisation will have to find substantial savings, but this kind of talk in Austria should be taboo.

Tweet of the day

@grandprixdiary “Confirmed. José Mourinho will leave Real Madrid. Expected to start work with Mercedes AMG F1 on Monday”.

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31 responses to “Daily F1 News and Comment: Monday 20th May 2013

  1. My favourite BMW moment is not exactly a BMW moment as such. I’ll never forget the hillarious radio exchange between Montoya and Williams at Spielberg (I think in 2001)

    “There’s a deer on the track.”
    “Oh deer.”
    “Yeah, it’s like a horse with horns.”

    I almost died laughing 😀

      • That is humorous, but unfortunately not funny to me, as a friend of mine, Steve Phillips, died after hitting a deer in an FF race at, ironically, Deer’s Leap at the Westwood racetrack outside of Vancouver, BC, Canada many years ago. He crested the hill and drive under the deer at speed, unsighted, taking the full impact with his head. After that incident (and a previous death from deer for another FF driver during testing) the marshals at Deer’s Leap were armed with a rifle. I was in the race but fortunately didn’t see the incident.

          • Imagine the outcry if a deer DIDN’T get shot and another driver died. The track was surrounded by a ‘deer’ fence, but they could jump over it pretty easily.

          • Was thinking of that but think common sense may have prevailed and they would not shoot when there is a car close 🙂

  2. “One can only assume this revised earlier than expected start date is because Paddy proved to be more than adept at gardening than first thought and he has completed his landscaping assignment.”
    Precisely my thoughts. Why would you need him any longer after the Chelsea Flower Show is over? Mmm? Why?

    On a serious note. At first I thought it was too much having all these directors at Merc, but given the 2014 changes and continuing changes in ’15 and ’16, it’s probably wise to have as much as depth as possible so that different teams start working on next year’s car much quicker. Then again, all these egos may clash at some point.

    • But you get compartmentalising of information with such devolved/independent structures.

      An age old business organisational dilemma

      • Absolutely, this business trend comes and goes, it’s all about fashion!

  3. Fave BMW moment, Monty’s lap at Monza 2002, missed it due to my misses deciding to give birth . . .
    Mercedes may as well get Paddy now, then grab James Allison, followed by all the other tech directors, then all the other teams tyre performance will eventually deteriorate beyond their own 🙂

    • Although not specific BMW incidents, I felt their best tenure second time around came with Montoya at the wheel, anyone else here think with the right attitude and commitment Montoya could have been a multiple champion?

      It obviously didn’t help that his Williams decided to go and blow itself to bits more often than not, that BMW was so fragile on so many occasions….

      • Montoya was my fave driver at the time. Since Senna, only him and Hamilton have come close to resemble somewhat that driving style.
        I think that when he moved to McLaren, it became more than clear that all this corporate, marketing events nonsense surrounding F1 was not for him. Probably he would still be here today if he had moved to another team, like Renault.

      • Any videos of the turbo fours on qualifying boost, 1400bhp and plenty of smoke, real qualy specials!!

    • Amazing to watch Montoya and Raikkonen pre-TC. Absolutely devastating the throttle on corner exits. TC definitely slowed these drivers down, while allowing other more cautious drivers to get closer to optimal laps – equalizing the field a little more (think Heidfeld beating Kubica in TC 2007). Both are worthy champions in the Schumacher era for me – Montoya was definitely an overtaking god. I still can’t believe Verstappen took him out at Brazil 2001 after his move on Schumacher! I wonder if F1’s popularity may not have waned as much if Montoya and/or Raikkonen split up the Schumacher WDC success story..

      Maybe he could have come to F1 earlier, instead of Zanardi or Button (he was already testing with Williams while being successful in the US), but I’ll bet he valued his Indy success. Not sure if he could have continued post-2006, I think you are right and that he grew tired of cars getting less wild and more and more corporate intrusion.

  4. ah yes . . . they dont make em like Monty anymore, he kept Schuey on his toes when the engine wasnt blowing up, no ders or kers required for JPM to have a go . .
    nice 🙂

  5. I was thinking about Kimi’s points bonus arrangement, and even if he were only on, say, a Euro5,000/point bonus then he’d be right to be disappointed with 2nd places – 90,000 vs 125,000 for a win. If he scored maximum points over the whole season he could take home almost 2.4 million. As it stands after 5 rounds he’d have 425,000, but have already dropped 200,000, less than 70% of his potential bonus. Any further bids? Do I hear 10,000/point?
    I know it’s a bit late, but… ‘If Lewis could fly…I still say he would have bought that jet and painted it red.’ : )

  6. I realise this comment comes after the event, but nonetheless nice to hear – in contrast to some of the more high pitched (whining ?) ones of late:

    ‘…When asked by AUTOSPORT if Mercedes was disappointed by the smaller-than-expected scale of Pirelli’s changes, motorsport boss Toto Wolff said: “If you struggle with the tyres, like we obviously do, you can’t expect the FIA to change the rules for your own benefit…’

    • “…which of course means that Ross needs to sort this out as quickly as possible, otherwise he may not be working with Paddy next year. Just looking for an excuse to oust the man, you know?”

      The rest of the sentence that he didn’t utter.

      Joking aside, this is indeed nice to hear.

    • No love lost between Toto and Dieter,
      hallelujah that some teams believe hard work is the way forward

  7. There can only be one proper BMW car.
    The 1983 Brabham BT52, but late season version with predominant dark blue livery. That was special.
    I did like the Benetton B186, with 1,400 hp in Austria.

    But for me as a Ferrari fan, would have to be this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84iUOQhVQHY

    James Hunt’s classic line, “and the crowd have confirmed they prefer cars to people because..”

    • You must be a true Tifoso.
      The tifosi are the only breed of fans I know, who cheer for another driver having an accident. Call me old fashioned, but posting an accident as your ‘favourite BMW moment’ is quite tasteless to say the least.

      • It’s not the drivers we care about. I have raced and would never wish injury to any other. But to be a Ferrari fan, as Hunt alluded to, means loving the car more than the driver.
        When a Ferrari overtakes another car, when the other retires due to mechanical problems, if its to the advantage of Ferrari, then we cheer.
        Over here, in the uk, if a driver crashes out or retires then the crowd goes wild too.
        I’ve seen this in the Senna era, and I was at Club Corner when he retired in 1991 before Mansell famously picked him up, prior to this, the abuse he got from the crowd was staggering.
        When Schumacher crashed out in 1999, the scenes were exactly the same until it was obvious there was a problem.
        Patrese crashing out, without injury at a slow speed corner is significant because it was the first Imola GP after the infamous Villeneuve/Pironi incident the previous year and no. 27 won.
        Then again, maybe I’m old enough to have witnessed the death of Villeneuve and remember seeing the podium celebrations the following day and the drivers spraying champagne..
        I also watched live as Senna, Ratzenberger and Simoncelli died following their dreams, and that was harrowing.

      • “The tifosi are the only breed of fans I know, who cheer for another driver having an accident”
        What a load of crap, call me old fashioned, but i was taught not to generalise.

  8. What Paul needs to remember is that Sebastian Vettel was already being fast-tracked into F1 by Marko at that point, after blitzing the Formula BMW championship in a Raikkonen-esque manner, and so the F3 Euro championship probably mattered less to him for his career. He’d already done some FR3.5, and won a race, in mid 2006 when he was also moving up to BMW F1 testing. Indeed, Vettel would have won the 2007 FR3.5 title, but was fast-tracked into BMW to replace an injured Kubica and then the Toro Rosso (and still ended up with more points than VDG from only half a season).

    Admittedly, Paul was unlucky not to be in F1 sooner, being held behind Vitantonio Liuzzi at Force India after his great 2nd DTM year. The interesting comparison is of pace at that point – indeed Di Resta got more poles than Vettel in F3, and now we think of Paul as a very consistent race driver, a la Alonso. I’ll agree with him that Alonso and Raikkonen are the best overall drivers, with Vettel and Hamilton right there on outright pace. Paul still has more poles than victories, whereas Vettel only achieved this around when he became WDC (and arguably only because of being able to do the EBD driving style where Webber couldn’t).

    Paul was unlucky in that if McLaren still had Mercedes engines/Vodafone sponsorship going forwards, they could’ve ‘Britted’ it up with Button and di Resta, or go for outright pace with Button/Hulkenberg, but they chose Button/Perez for the added replacement sponsorship, although if Button is continually beaten by Perez, will this hasten his departure quicker than would otherwise be the case? That could be a possible place for Di Resta to go after leading Force India for another few years, if he can get the better of Sutil (unlucky so far to have no big consistent results this year), although he would now be without the Mercedes connection in trying to achieve that seat. Hard to know if Force India will stay as competitive next year after things switch over (I’m guessing they won’t want this year’s McLaren info! Not that it helps with the new formula.. We await Mallya’s infrastructure investment to boost the team’s new car, but it did do very well post-09 in coming up with a low-drag new car).

    Interesting who Ferrari want to replace Massa with – Hulkenberg and Bianchi must be the best contenders. I wonder if Bianchi may stay with Marussia come Ferrari engines, rather than move to a Force India seat.

    • Interesting thoughts ID

      Having said that Jonathan Neale said last week – Button could stay as long he as wants. Maybe we’ll see first pensioner F1 driver…

      Di Resta is a bit screwed. Mercedes won’t have him and now McLaren have moved over to Honda.

      You’d have to say the Hulk is going to get first shout with Ferrari. LdM said when he announced he was going there it would be interesting to watch ‘him driving a car with one of our engines in it’.

      Still the way Vettel’s mooching around in the German press is it possible he could retire from F1 if Pirelli don’t change their ways?

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