Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 17 June 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day GMT 11:40 13:58 14:14 16:41

Tyregate looms

This week will be dominated by the inaugural proceedings at the new F1 independent International Tribunal. TJ13 has reported that we believe the matter has been escalated to this body for political reasons. Ferrari and Red Bull have requested to be in attendance, both with teams of lawyers.

Pirelli have become increasingly frustrated and openly critical of F1 in general and their lobbying earlier this year of the FIA did not appear to get them what they needed – testing for 2014 tyres.

The tyres announced for the next three races have attracted attention. TJ13 has for some time suggested as the season develops, 2 things appear to happen. Firstly the teams get on top of the tyre situation and secondly Pirelli begin to make more conservative tyre choices possibly in a response to previous criticism.

Lotus, Alan Permane, told the BBC he thought the decision to take the medium and hard tyre to Hungary was, “very conservative”. He adds, “It’s unusual to take the same tyres to Hungary as to Bahrain and Silverstone. We didn’t have those tyres last year. We had medium and soft last year and people did two stops. So it absolutely doesn’t make sense – they’re too hard for that track.”

Permaine observes of the 2012 campaign, “This is exactly what they did in the last few races of last year. They brought harder and harder tyres and we just ended up doing one stop. And last year they said they didn’t want to interfere in the championship so they took conservative tyres, but I never really understood what that meant.”

TJ13 commented frequently on this idea of ‘interfering with the championship’ in 2012 – and it is still not clear why Pirelli refer to this idea when their mandate is to provide tyres which deliver 2-3 stops per race.

Pirelli motorsport director responds, “The tyres are more aggressive this year. They’ve all got the same – get on with it,” and a Pirelli spokesperson added, “The compound choices are made taking into account the data available, in particular track characteristics and expected weather conditions, in order to stay in the window of two to three pit stops.”

Of course as F1 fans we understand the tyres are a step softer this year, so last years choice of medium would mean this year the tyre choice would be hard. However, this does not explain why circuits are being allocated relatively different tyres – a la Bahrain and Hungary – and it cannot be argues a harder tyre is a more conservative choice.

It will be interesting to see how the tyre wear evolves over the British GP. TJ13 has been informed by one of the top team’s strategists that they are expecting and 4 stops for those like Mercedes who are harder on tyres despite the Pirelli compound selection.

Speaking to SKY, Paul  Hembery reveals not everyone above him in the Pirelli management structure is happy with the way their F1 adventure is progressing.

“They are unhappy with some of the comments and a lot of those are largely unjustified. We will see how things progress over the next period of time to see how the mood changes. But we came into Formula 1 to stay in the medium-term and we still want to be in the sport medium-term.

“An easy reaction would be to say ‘this is madness, get out,’ but we are a company that likes to provide solutions and we want to use this as an opportunity to take things forward and make a change for the better of the sport.

“We have some long-term agreements in place with a number of parties involved in the sport – we are trying to refine all of those and make sure we complete all of those – and we can all work together for the future.”

TJ13 reported on Friday Ecclestone’s brief comments inferring that Pirelli had long term contracts in the sport and so it appears the old grand master wasn’t foaming at the mouth after all. As to what they involve, at this time we can but speculate.

Hembery explains the reason why the do not have a contract for 2014 and beyond in place yet. “A lot of it is bureaucratic in many ways as you have the teams’ 11 lawyers and you have to go through the process. I think as time goes on that is being resolved. We have the agreement in place with the promoter – which is an important aspect as well from a branding point of view – so it is just a matter of time.”

TJ13 has learned that Pirelli are looking for a 7 year contract and remuneration in excess of $100m. Further, they have now added to their wish list a clause which prevents the teams consistently criticising the tyre manufacturer. This could be enacted under a ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’ disciplinary protocol.

Bernie’s master plan to solve F1 financial crisis

IN true Red Top tabloid fashion – BILD REVEALS…. Ecclestone is unmoved over paying team’s a greater share of the F1 commercial revenue. He says, “They will have to find a way to be competitive with less money”. Bernie thoughtfully adds, “They need to refocus on the essentials, and that is the racing and the racing cars, not huge and meaningless motor homes.” 

Canadian GP viewing figures

UK

Coverage was live on BBC One from 18:15 to 21:10 averaged 4.61 million viewers, A further 624,000 viewers watched on Sky Sports F1 from 17:30 to 22:00, bringing a combined average of just over 5.2 million viewers. The combined average is higher than last year’s combined peak figure, which demonstrates the effect that live free to air prime time viewing can have on the overall figures.

2010 – 5.31 million
2011 – 6.21 million
2012 – 3.46 million
2013 – 5.23 million

Spain

2010 – 1.75m
2011 – 1.54m
2012 – 1.9m
2013 – 2.47m

Italy

2011 – 6.70m
2012 – 5.67m
2013 – 7.72m

Germany

2010 – 6.67m
2011 – 6.76m
2012 – 4.93m
2013 – 5.38m

It appears the shift in start time for the Canadian GP has benefitted most European broadcasters. 1900 in the UK and 20:00 CET is more prime time viewing. Despite Vettel winning by a country mile, the German figures whilst in improvement on 2012 are still well below 2010-11 levels.

Italy have adopted a similar model to the UK with SKY Italy showing live races and RAI (free to air) with only 10 live races. Yet SKY Italy had 13.5% of the F1 viewers, whilst SKY UK managed just 12%.

Montreal bullish about another 10 years for F1

Race promoter, Francois Dumontier, tells ESPN,  “We are presently discussing an extension from 2015 to 2024, so ten years. That is the longest agreement that has ever been proposed to us. We had five years with options before.”

All new agreements now being signed are for ten years … Ten years allows us to think long term, to think about improvements that can be brought to the circuit, about investments, etc. We are happy to work in this regard.”

The reason FOM/CVC/Ecclestone need lengthy contracts is to float the commercial rights on a stock exchange, the future revenues will need to be ‘guaranteed’. Yet  with only Silverstone and Monza requiring no public funding, this will be no easy ask.

The regional Korean government are expected to spend over half a billion dollars over the term of their race contract. Clearly this race is a warning to all unproven territories of how much exactly a long term F1 deal can cost. Further,

10 year deals are harder for a legislature to agree, simply because the elected representatives who agree such a deal may no longer be in office for a significant part of the contract. To this end they may not have the support of those in opposition to the ruling government at the time.

The problem for FOM is that their TV deals are out of synch with those they have with the race promoters. Should F1 be able to take advantage of direct internet revenues into countries where presently those rights are owned by the F1 broadcasting partner, it will be some time before they can realise much of this income.

In the meantime, race promoters appear to have reached a high water mark for what they will pay for an F1 race, so where the incremental revenue will be found to whet the appetite of potential floatation investors is at present unclear.

SKYSPORTS DAY PASSES

If you follow this link to Groupon – there is a deal for 5 SKY SPORTS day passes for £14.99. Please check it includes F1 when you get to the ultimate page. I believe these are usually £10 per day. You may have to sign up for Groupon’s daily email – this requires a name and address only

http://www.groupon.co.uk/deals/national-deal/Now-TV/22880250

Small P{rint: New NOW TV customers only (1 offer per customer). Must be 18 or older. UK only. Must enter payment details on sign up. At end of 6 month subscription Sky Movies Pass will renew at introductory price of £8.99 per month for 3 months. Subscription can be cancelled at any time. Content streamed. Sports passes will be emailed to buyers within 10 days. Requires broadband/3G (charges may apply). By purchasing a Groupon, you are purchasing a voucher for the underlying products or services described above. Orders fulfilled by NOW TV. Original values verified on 21 May 2013 at 11.33am.

Please check all the T&C’s, however this looks as though you can cancel in 6 months when the F1 season is over.

17 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 17 June 2013

  1. “Further, they have now added to their wish list a clause which prevents the teams consistently criticising the tyre manufacturer. This could be enacted under a ‘bringing the sport into disrepute’ disciplinary protocol.”

    Newsflash, Pirelli, such a clause in the contract might be accepted business practice in Belarus or North Korea, but in most parts of the world, we have a thing called ‘freedom of speech’.
    They’ve received a whole truckload of criticism from nearly all teams, except Lotus, who are happy with the tyres, because their car doesn’t have enough grunt to even scrub the pathetic things, and oll of the criticism was offered in a socially acceptable form as far as I can remember. Not even Red Bull did call them all the names once that I would like to call them for making complete mockeries of most races so far this year. Such a clause, making criticism of the Dear Leader – excuse me – the Maximo Tyre Manufacturer a punishable offense would be utterly ridiculous.

    • The mother of the empire must now be in slavery from this Basic human liberty.

      Criticise a referee and you get a charge of a similar nature in the English Premier League.

      Further, free speech becomes polemic and manipulative when consistently it is motivated to create a self advantage

      • I disagree, your honour. In most leagues of the world it is indeed allowed to criticize a referee. In fact harsh criticism of referee Robert Hoyczer uncovered the 2005 Bundesliga match fixing scandal, which involved several referees manipulating matches on orders of the Serbian betting mafia.
        What you are not allowed to is attacking or verbally abusing the ref on the pitch and such behavior is immediately punished. But saying after the match – in an acceptable manner – that the referee’s performance was poor and mistake-ridden has so far never been punished in Bundesliga – and rightly so.

        I cannot remember any team that has criticized Pirelli in any way that would be considered socially unacceptable. Nobody insulted them or used foul language. As for ‘being polemic and manipulative’: isn’t Renault’s insistence on the tyres remaining as they are the same then? They have an advantage on this year’s comedy rubber, because their car is too weak and slow to destroy the tyres, so they cry foul when Pirell bring harder tyres that allow their opposition to race.
        Red Bull already has an advantage. They worked for it and got it, because their designer managed to build a great car where his 10 opponents failed. They criticized Pirelli because the tyres basically immobilized the Red Bull. And that criticism was joined even by certified Red Bull detractors, because the main point of the criticism was teams forbidding their drivers to race for fear of crippling tyre degradation.
        If fixing that means, that RB runs off with both titles again, so be it. It’s the job of Ferrari, McLaren and others to pull the finger and build a car that can challenge the Red Bull, not Pirelli’s job to sabotage the RB’s so the less useful cars can keep up.

        If I write a program and then see that it is installed on a computer that isn’t fit for the purpose and my work therefore performs badly, I’ll also criticize the choice of infrastructure, because I cannot accept that my achievements are made a mockery of by a third party. I’m not a particular friend of Red Bull, but they’ve been building the most competitive car consistently since 2010 and therefore they deserve to take the win until someone comes to beat them on merit, not by 3rd-party manipulation.

        • I’m not sure I agree, Danilo. SebVet was reported as being quite outspoken about safety – essentially saying that he viewed the tyres as actually unsafe (I am paraphrasing, so perhaps another interpretation would be possible). I would submit that these tyres (which have shed a few treads) are no less and in fact are MORE safe than previous tyres that would fully deflate when punctured.

          It’s certainly true that no foul language was used (as far as I can see) but, if I were Pirelli, I would have had a VERY stern word with ChrisHorn including reference to lawyers and slander, etc.

          Similarly, I think you might be stepping over the line to imply that Pirelli are trying to “sabotage the RB’s”. I could be wrong (I’m not a conspiracy theorist), but I don’t believe Pirelli are intentionally targeting any team in any way, good or bad. And one could just as easily say that RB have to pull THEIR finger out and build a car that can challenge the Lotus on these tyres…

          • As for the safety. A whole tread going flying at speed is dangerous by default as the weight of it is substantial. A several kilo’s piece of rubber launched at 280 kph can cause devastating effects. It surely was enough to damage Lewis’ gearbox at Bahrain.
            Yes it is safer as in the tyres don’t deflate, but I don’t want to see the result of an airborne tyre tread hitting a track-side marshal.

            Of course i stepped over the line, saying Pirelli sabotages Red Bull. It’s a rhetoric concept called exaggeration. But Pirelli have made themselves vulnerable to such suspicions by Paul Hembery’s public brain-farts. If he says (twice!!) that if they strengthened the tyres Red Bull would run off with the championship, that means two things:

            a) they for some reasons have quite extensively analyzed the effect their design has on a certain team.

            b) They know that the current tyres disadvantage the car that has been the most successful in the last few years.

            Basically they try to force the most successful designer of the last years to abandon his successful approach. That doesn’t fit into the job description of an impartial supplier. In the past cars have been designed to work to the limits of its components and those limits have been defined by what’s technically impossible. This year, designers are expected to build cars to a limit arbitrarily defined by a supplier. That’s wrong on so many levels.

            As for RB challenging Lotus. Why should they be expected to make their car as crap as the Lotus. The two fastest (and in my opinion most well designed) cars this year are the Red Bull and the Mercedes. Both are badly limited and slowed down by tyres that aren’t fit for the purpose by design. That can’t be right. Tyres that are deliberately made to perform badly is wrong on any level imaginable and Pirelli have brought on the resulting PR shitstorm themselves. They deserve every minute of it, because they should never have agreed to such a travesty.

          • …over 14,000 tyres used this year – and it’s not yet happened…

            ..maybe we should have closed cockpits too…. more concrete run-off areas… and airbags for greater driver safety…

            then of course we should really enclose the wheels…

            open wheel racing has veen responsible for this year for multiple incidents already… and that is clearly inherently dangerous.

            Further, the teams were given the tyre specs in advance to develop their cars… just because Newey got it wrong for once… doesn’t mean the whole sport has to accommodate.

          • Sorry, your honour, but that argument doesn’t fly. Being ‘given the specs in advance’ is one thing. That has always happened. But back in the day it was like that:

            ‘Here’s the specs to our tyres for next year. This is how much grip we could extract out of them and still make them last at least half the race.’

            Today it is:

            ‘Hey guys. Here’s the four compounds for next year and that what we want you to design your car like. We don’t care how good your designer is – just dumb it down to our level. We decided to make them crap, because we’re miffed that you still managed to get away with one pitstop at some races last year. See if you can square the circle and make a car slow and weak enough to work with all four of ’em. We could do better, but Bernie wants us to make them crap.

            It’s just wrong…

            To stay with the footballing analogy. Nobody would accept if Nike decided to make football boots that by design become unusable after 20 minutes and footballists would walk around at a snails pace to make their boots last until at least half-time. We also wouldn’t accept that teams would be expected to adapt their tactics of the way players run to accommodate a supplier providing deliberately unsuitable material.

          • That is irrelevant – it is the same for everyone. So we all got bored with a high rake design… move on Mr. Newey…

            The main now propounded is safety…. and this argument proposed by RB is nonesense – as I pointed out.

          • Nope, I didn’t get bored with high-rake designs, I got bored with everybody and his dog failing to keep up every year. Instead of lambasting 10 designers, who didn’t do their jobs properly, the one who did is endlessly ridiculed or bad-mouthed. Have we gotten so penis-envious that success has become a bad word? I thought it was only the ridiculous mob in our country.
            The fact is, Newey did his job in 2010,2011,2012 – ten or 11 other designers, respectively, didn’t. It’s the job of the beaten to up their game, not the job of the winners to dumb down their’s.

          • F1 cars have changed dramatically over the years – and been through a number of phases where certain designs and areas of the car were dominant.

            Maybe Mr. E/Todt decided – high downforce aero has had it’s day… and it’s time for the focus to shift toward more traditional motor engineering solutions.

            Mr. Newey knows how to do this too… as proven in the past.

          • The angry comments about Pirelli here are helpful because it helps to better understand the views of many who hold similar sentiments.

            At the same time the misunderstandings of the highly difficult challenges that top-tier racing engineers and drivers have to maximize the performance of racing tyres is a bit disappointing.

  2. “not interfering in the championship”= making sure championship comes down to Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and possibly Mercedes. Never mind Red Bull is running away with Constructors in any event.

    • That’s exactly how it should be. Not the RB running away with constructors, but that the championship is fought without someone playing kingmaker, deciding who is allowed to be competitive and when.
      The reason that it are always the big teams, who are fighting it out, is the completely disparate distribution of TV money. The smaller teams could make a naked handstand in the pits, whistling “La Paloma” – Ferrari, Red Bull and the likes would still get more Bernie Money than them, even if finishing behind them in the Constructors Championship.

      I don’t know who it was, but someone calculated that if Lotus won the WCC and Ferrari finished a lowly 10th, they would still pocket more of the TV money than Lotus. That needs to be fixed. Ordering a supplier to manipulate the competitiveness of certain teams doesn’t fix what Bernie broke.

      • This is what makes Bernie the ultimate magician. His distribution of revenues creates this scenario, but the teams all blame each other.The real issue is that under the current system only the big 3/4 have a realistic chance. While that ensures they will tend to stay in the sport, as RB are finding at a certain point the public want to pull for the underdog, and prefer to see the mighty fall. The current regime prevents that, which is why (IMO) audience is dropping (also pay TV, but that’s another discussion entirely).

        In American Football, they do have the equivalent of an RRA, but teams can choose to ignore and pay a tax instead. This money gets distributed to teams with less resources, ensuring closer games and higher audiences (or so the theory goes). In fact, in most commercial sports you will see tweaking of the rules so as to keep games close, as the uncertainty is a major factor in bringing in uncommitted viewers to the sport. If the outcome is that certain you will lose viewers because why bother, you already know what’s going to happen. IMO this is a better solution than constantly tweaking equipment (though in a technologically driven sport this is also a necessity from time to time).

      • “I don’t know who it was, but someone calculated that if Lotus won the WCC and Ferrari finished a lowly 10th, they would still pocket more of the TV money than Lotus.” <—- that was Dieter Rencken in a recent (this year) article he wrote for Autosport Plus (but you can find it on a crazy Chinese site! http://bbs.hupu.com/5379371.html)

        "Winning in F1 might not pay

        Under the current F1 revenue system, Lotus could win the championship and find itself at a financial disadvantage to the rivals it beat – and Marussia will miss out entirely. Dieter Rencken explains"

        • Agreed Joe – the distribution of revenue among the teams IMHO is THE BIGGEST single issue re: F1 funding, that is the simplest to address.

          It is disgraceful and should be on merit with the bottom team receiving no less than 50% of the money the team winning receives.

          Historic participation payments are a complete joke – and all part of the manipulative politics of Mr. E.

  3. so F1 to follow the Olympic model of selling the rights (only) to free to air channels then?

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