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10:50 11:25 11:44 12:01 12:11 14:15 15:10 (update of final story) 15:33 16:44 17:45 Lotus story updated
I can only speak as a UK resident however I guess the following is true wherever you live in the world. It seems for each major sport we hold dear the has been an iconic ‘voice’, a commentator who defines the nature and high water mark of what excellent broadcasting is within their own field.
Further, the nature of sport’s broadcasting has changed immensely since the 1970’s and 1980’s and it may well be difficult for anyone else to become ‘the voice’ in a particular sport. 3 channels of TV in the 1970’s meant a lot of sport was not live and if it was it was on the radio, and the challenge for a radio commentator is much greater than for those who commentate on TV and have pictures to assist their descriptions.
In cricket it was Brian Johnston, Tennis – Dan Mascal, Athletics – Ron Pickering, Rugby Union – Bill McLaren, Rugby League – Eddie Wearing and being the nations obsession football (soccer) arguably has more than one form that era.
For us in the UK, and many of you who have seen UK footage on YouTube – Murray Walker was as influential in Formula 1 as any of those mentioned above. Of course he made more mistakes than would be acceptable today, yet his preparatory work and the excitement he engendered in the pitch and tone of his commentary gave F1 a unique flavour different from all other sports..
Murray also had a difficult relationship with James Hunt for a number of years, but even this helped set Murray apart from the rest – and no one has really had the same outstanding impact above their peers to this day. His tenure behind the microphone was an extraordinary half century and I’m not sure we could stand any of today’s brood for that length of time.
Murray now 89 years of age had a fall recently and during the medical examinations that ensued it was discovered he has a form of lymphatic system cancer, but said the condition is apparently treatable. Murray told the BBC last night, “They’ve caught it incredibly early. It’s treatable, the doctors say my condition is mild and I’m very hopeful.”
I like many am an F1 child of Murray’s and I remember as a very young boy hearing this man shouting with excitement through the television screen – and I wondered what could possibly be so exciting to cause him to behave like no-one else I’d heard or seen on TV.
We wish you well Murray and hope you get better soon.
Cricket is indeed a minority game in the context of global sport. However, for the countries of the commonwealth cricket was THE summer game which many of the larger nations competed against each other and as such commands a disproportionate amount of attention for those of us who live within the cricketing nations.
I mentioned above, Brian Johnston (1912-1994), who is still today considered by the current cricket establishment as the voice of cricket. He was the paradigm of an Edwardian gentleman, professional to the nth degree and was responsible for one of the finest and most longstanding radio commentary programmes on the BBC – Test Match Special.
At the end of each day, huge would run through a summary of the play including who scored what and how batsmen were dismissed. This was vital to cricket lovers, who would tune in to hear the summary events of the day having been unable to watch or listen whilst attending to their daily work.
‘Johnners’, as he became known was, a funny many, but in a most proper way. He would play jokes on less experienced commentators. He was the lead commentator and as such did most of the talking but would occasionally ask his expert summarises to elaborate on some action taking place on the field – or indeed any matters cricket related.
This meant they may not speak for several minutes and then be asked to give their opinion. New summarises were often subject to ‘Johnners’ jokes, such as, he would offer them a piece of cake during live commentary and as soon as their mouths were full he would ask their opinion on a matter.
Yet the end of day roundup was a serious matter indeed. In 1991, Brian was describing a curious dismissal in which Ian Botham’s inner thigh had brushed his stumps, dislodging a bail. ‘He just didn’t quite get his leg over,’ chipped in Agnew mischievously.
Here is what happened. Voted by British commentators in a recent poll to be the all time classic sports commentary episode. (Pics added later).
‘Johnners’ was most cross after the event and stormed out of the box believing this had been most unprofessional. Jonathan Agnew who made the comment feared for his job as he was the new boy that summer to the TMS team.
It was only the next day when the Test Match Special post-bag was about 10 times as large as normal he realised how funny the moment had been to people listening.
Melbourne lose pole
TJ13 has been reporting for some time the desire of a number of the teams to test in the middle east prior to the opening race of the season. The cold weather in Barcelona this year, which saw icicles on my car one morning, has elevated this debate in 2013.
In 2011, the teams were to have the final winter test in Bahrain 10 days before the season opening race which was also to be held in the gulf state. Of course the race and the tests were cancelled and Barcelona stepped into the breach hosting the final winter test at the last-minute.
However, in the paddock in Canada, the sheiks were indeed the ‘movers and shakers’ and it appears they have succeeded in their ambition to host the opening race of the 2014 season. This will most likely bring an additional $10m into FOM’s coffers as this premium for the privilege of hosting the season opener was part of the previous deal which was cancelled.
Australia have refused to pay such a premium, yet the attention of the world’s media is enormous for the F1 opening weekend, and the Bahraini’s are prepaid to pay for the opportunity and Mr. E, who is having a tough time with race organisation at present, is happy to accept the cash.
Australia’s Heral Sun is reporting “Grand Prix insiders are already convinced the Bahrain race will run on March 2 with the Australian event at Albert Park to follow on March 16”. The Aussies are putting a brave face on the matter stating that, “Our preference is to retain the third weekend in March,” said the Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott.
To be fair to FOM and Mr. E, whilst the additional cash is important, a season opening race run on a middle east time zone is more palatable than having to arise in the middle of the night to catch the main events of the F1 weekend.
Having spoken with Silverstone TJ13 reported last week that their were extremely concerned over the number of tickets sold. The rain deluge in 2012 which saw over 100 sporting events cancelled in the UK has clearly affected the British public who may be waiting until the last-minute before they decide to attend in just under 2 weeks.
The British driver malaise apparently doesn’t help either. Derrick Warwick has commented that there are noticeable differences in attendance spikes when in recent times either Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton are winning races. Di Resta is doing well, but a podium in Northampton may be unlikely for the Force India driver.
This time last year, just 5,000 tickets were left yet as of today, only 11 categories out of 33 have been sold out. For Friday and Saturday, all but a couple of categories are still available.
TJ13 understands that Santander who sponsor the race and invited several thousand guests and filled entire stands in 2012 have significantly cut back their number of invitees to this years race.
However other factors cannot be discounted, only Abu Dhabi and Brazil are more expensive for general admission (the most popular entrance ticket) which will cost nearly 200 euro’s for 3 days and about 160 euros for the race itself. Tickets for fans of Wigan and Manchester City for the FA CUP final last month began at 45 euros and the Champions League fans ticket prices started at 70 euros.
Prices have risen nearly 50% for the general admission tickets since Silverstone signed a new 17 year contract in 2009. The fee paid has an annual escalator of 7% to be paid to FOM, all of which must be found from the ticket sales as the race receives no outside funding.
Part of the terms of getting a new 17 year contract including agreeing to Ecclestone’s demands to spend money on the infrastructure at and around the circuit. The British Racing Drivers Club (BDRC), who own the circuit, have spent some 40m euro’s on developing the facility and have a debt of around 31m euros as stated in the last annual accounts submitted.
The interest alone on the debt is punitive and the BDRC have been desperate to sell some land to a partner who will develop their facilities on site in Northampton. A number of possible partners have come and gone and as yet no additional funding is on the horizon.
Extra Kilometres mean an advantage
Part of the Horner and Marko moan about Mercedes test is that it is impossible to do extra kilometres and not learn anything. Here is an interesting table sent in from a TJ13 Google+ reader, Lorenzo De Luca. It shows the total number of kilometres each team’s cars have run in 2013.
Lorenzo suggests, “From the days of the first test at Jerez until the checkered flag of Montreal two teams have already covered more than 13,000 KM, Mercedes and Sauber, while who has been a bit back is the Marussia, with just 10,882 km traveled.
The W04 therefore, is the most tried and tested car of the whole Circus, even without counting the more or less 1,000 km of secret tests in Barcelona, which would raise the total distance covered by the Mercedes with the Pirelli 2013 about 14,160 km.
Reading all in tires perspective , we don’t find a clear and obvious evidence between performance improvements and mileage. Practically there isn’t a direct correspondence between mileage and improved performance tires. The Sauber C32 for example, has come within one kilometre (officially) less than Mercedes, but it is still one of the most teams in trouble with the tires, the Lotus, which has understood them immediately, is the third to last place with about 1600 km less. It remains difficult to think that a test of 1,000 km exclusively reserved to study the behaviour of the tires – test during which it is obvious that Mercedes has tried various set-ups – do not bring an undeniable advantage in the knowledge of the tires than the competition”.
Abu Dhabi up race promotions
The Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi will indeed take place this season as usual in November, but it will be making its presence felt at Silverstone. The organizers from the Emirates have planned a large advertising campaign to further boost ticket sales for the fifth Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit. They wish to attract more people from the UK to travel to Abu Dhabi race.
“The international profile of the Grand Prix continues to grow at a great speed,” said Richard Cregan, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit, “Last year we had the largest international audience welcome, this year we want to build on that yet.” The “Whittlebury Park” Campsite at Silverstone will be renamed the “Abu Dhabi fan zone”. For this, get the campers will get free WiFi and rain jackets. In addition to 20,000 gift bags will be distributed.
A small storm brewing?
I saw these pictures several days ago, and we asked the opinion of a team (not Red Bull obviously) as to how could these tyre tracks be produced.
A picture has emerged of Mark Webber, shortly after he had collided with the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde, after the Australian recovered at the hairpin to accelerate towards Turn 11.
Is it just a bumpy track? Note the size of the bands appear to fluctuate and could it just be wheel hop? Yet on closer examination the rubber laid down is not in parallel strips, but it appears the left rear tyre gains traction and then the right alternates as the left tyre loses traction.
A Newey genius widget? Or have Red Bull got some kind of active suspension where the ride height is being altered? Some of our technical friends in the media have deemed it normal, yet the engineers contacted by TJ13 are not so sure.
Over to you TJ13 readers to speculate.
UPDATE: Italian publication Autosprint suspects that Red Bull may be using traction control, which has been banned in Formula 1, to gain a significant advantage and may have credited to its victories this season, particularly at the Canadian Grand Prix.
Autospirint observes, “You immediately notice the traces on the track. Those are not continuous of a ‘screech. It is the typical behaviour of a road car that goes ‘jerky’ with the traction control switched on.” A ‘screech’ is usually depicted by tyre patterns darker at the beginning and then gradually fading.
Some believe there are overtones here of similar incidents when Michael Schumacher 1994, the year he won his first title. The nickname ‘Baby Schumi’ may be more literal than we think.
Lotus new partners
Luxumbourg based venture capital group Genii have sold a 35% stake in the Lotus F1 team to an investment consortium called Infinity Racing (nothing to do with Infiniti and Red Bull).
Infinity Racing is an investment consortium whose special purpose vehicle is comprised of private investors that include an American hedge fund manager – Mansoor Ijaz (20%), an Abu Dhabi-based multinational business group run by Suhail Al Dhaheriand (20%) and the royal family of Brunei who rule a major oil producing nation (60%).
Mansoor Ijaz is an interesting character. Here is his Wikipedia entry.
Gerard Lopez, co-founder of Genii Capital, will remain Chairman of Lotus F1 Team. Eric Lux, CEO of Genii Capital, will continue his role on the team’s Board of Directors.
Gerard Lopez, Chairman, Lotus F1 Team: “Infinity Racing’s principals have exceptional expertise and a proven strong track record in developing and delivering high quality technologies. This partnership will enable us to increase Lotus F1 Team’s competitive advantage related to KERS technology as it becomes more central to Formula 1’s push for environmentally sound racing, while also making Lotus F1 Team more marketable as a brand, opening up additional major sponsorship opportunities.”
Mansoor Ijaz, Chairman and Suhail Al Dhaheri, Vice Chairman, Infinity Racing: “Gerard Lopez, Eric Lux and the entire Genii Capital team are building Lotus F1 Team to make it a serious competitor at every race and a winner on a par with the top racing teams in Formula 1. The recent developments at Enstone and results of the Team’s high-quality drivers are testament to this. Patrick Louis, Chief Executive, and Eric Boullier, Team Principal, are continuing the time-honoured traditions of Lotus F1 Team and have re-established the Team as a competitive force in Formula 1. We are honoured to be part of the Team’s forward march to the No.1 ranking and proud of the team spirit, down-to-earth nature and performance-oriented results that characterise the experts at Enstone, who endeavour to make Lotus F1 Team a title challenger in Formula 1 today.”
Eric Lux, CEO, Genii Capital: “Genii Capital is delighted to announce this partnership between Infinity Racing and Lotus F1 Team as we continue to grow and compete for podium places. Since Genii Capital took over control in December 2009, we have been focused on growing the value of the organisation and developing the infrastructure at its Enstone headquarters. As Lotus F1 Team results have continued to improve every year, we have been waiting for the right investor who will help make the jump to the top spot in the Constructors’ Championship. In Infinity Racing, we have found a partner with the right connections in addition to technological expertise and a global reach in major markets with key sponsors to achieve this goal. We look forward to working with Infinity Racing as we continue on this exciting journey.”
Tooned to return
Fans of the McLaren and Framestore cartoon ‘Tooned’ will be glad to here it is returning during the weekend of the British GP. Lewis is replaced by Sergio and Professor M is back with avengeance. Professor M, McLaren’s head of engineering, has little patience for the McLaren drivers and is completely oblivious to the way they find his testing programmes boring. M has been described as a blend of Steve Jobs and Q and he will appear in every episode of the series.