F1 appears to be in a general state of frenzy and chaos, the like we may not have seen for many years – if ever.
No Concorde agreement likely in the near or distant future, a possible free for all on testing may break loose, monumental tantrums over tyres and no tyre supplier is signed for next year, teams have gone and are quickly going bust, a number of circuits are experiencing the lowest attendances for some time, ticket prices sky high, free to air TV is gone for many…. and the ring master is scrabbling to keep it all together whilst facing a probably trial in Munich court for fraud charges over the sale of Formula 1.
Never let it be said TJ13 is the bearer of just doom and gloom tidings because on a positive note, should Phuket pull off the Thailand Grand Prix in 2015, the local tourist board may agree to fund as part of the GP ticket price some free scuba lessons for F1 fans.
Yet is was just a few years ago we had the balmy calm of circuits standing orderly in line with their truckloads of cash at the ready to pay for the privilege of joining the F1 family. One works team manufacturer reportedly spent over $1bn on their racing team in a single year alone, then sold it for $1 – only to watch the car they had so painstakingly designed win both F1 championships under another name. C’est la vie, those were indeed happy times.
I listened with amusement to the SKY duo of Lazenby and Brundle chew the cud over 21 or 20 races for 2014 and quietly smiled at the 2 minutes of airtime it received. Apparently they conclude, Sochi is in and New Jersey is a maybe.
Sochi may yet be Rocky. Korea is not near – making any cash. New Jersey as yet is not worthy… and could indeed be just a donkey derby. Spa is far – from safe and now we hear the Monza extravaganze may be close to its final stanza.
Just before TJ13 launched in September, reports began to emerge from Italy that the race organisation delivering the Italian Grand Prix was in trouble. This came from the horses mouth, Ecclestone, when he spoke to La Gazzetta and said, “Now the future of the Monza Formula 1 becomes much, much more complicated.” Notice the double imperative… much, much.
Enrico Ferrari had been running the Italian GP race organisation for many years and was a close friend and ally of Mr. E. He had been removed from his role along with 6 others following an alleged scandal over fraudulent tickets sales. Those implicated included Director of the circuit along with the technical director Giorgio Beghella Bartoli, the accounting officer and the president of Franco Becchere Acp & Partners – Marco Villa Luca, who manages the sponsorship of the racetrack.
Mr. E commented to La Gazzetta at the time stating, “I do not understand what is really happening. I very much appreciate Enrico Ferrari, who for over twenty years I have dealt with over the contract for the Italian Grand Prix. It is thanks to him that Monza had a favourable financial arrangement when compared to all other European races. No F1 event costs as little on the continent as the Italian Grand Prix. Enrico is tough in business, but direct, competent and clean.“
Ecclestone issued a coded warned to the Italian race organisation, stating he had no no relationship with the new director of the racetrack, Fabrizio Turci, and inferring the race in Monza may be in jeopardy. “I do not know him and do not envy him, because without Enrico Ferrari things will be more complicated. He was a key man.”
TJ13 has learned that matters have deteriorated and that FOM may be considering cancelling the current Monza contract by means of fidelity and confidence clauses. The present contract runs until 2016, and such is the concern that Carlo Edoardo Valli (CEO Automobil Club Milano) and Fabrizio Turci (President of SIAS; Società Incremento Automobilismo e Sport) were dispatched to Monaco to discuss matters with F1’s supremo.
Bernie was apparently busy and the meetings were handled by Pasquale Lattuneddu.
Associated to this is the arrangements for the newly agreed 4, 2 day in season European tests, particularly where and when they will be held. A number of circuits are hoping to host these sessions as they will bring in finance and fans, as do the pre-season tests in Jerez and Barcelona.
The current plan is for these tests to take place during the week following a GP, and Mugello has been offered by Ferrari who own the circuit. Monza officials now fear they may lose the Italian GP to Mugello, because it has been suggested to them it would be more cost and time effective for the race and test to be in the same place.
Whilst these suggestions may have been made to the parties involved, TJ13 thinks holding a GP in Mugello is unlikely.
Granted driver’s enjoyed the circuit during the test in 2012 and Webber even remarked, “10 laps here is better than 1000 in Abu Dhabi”. Yet the engineers claimed there was little benefit for them, because the style and layout of the track was unlike anything else they faced in F1.
The setting is dramatic but the circuit is narrow and better suited to racers with 2 wheels. Also the infrastructure is not on the scale of Monza with spectators mostly hosted on the bowl like grassy vantage points. Getting 100,000 plus F1 fans in and out and finding appropriate accommodation would also be problematic. Though MotoGP have managed this.
Monza is one of 2 circuits which require no regional or state funding, the other is Silverstone. Are we really to see this most historic of F1 venues disappear from the calendar? This would indeed be a tragedy.