This page will be updated throughout the day GMT
10:28 12:04 12:23 13:44 (update – Sauber saved) 13:57 14:24 14:32 14:48 14:55 (update – Sauber saved) 17:18 17:55 18:24 18:52 19:27 (Update – Is the Sauber deal a fraud)
The following statement was issued today by the team.
“We are pleased to announce a partnership between the Investment Corporation International Fund, the State Fund of Development of North-West Russian Federation and the National Institute of Aviation Technologies with Sauber Motorsport AG, incorporating the promotion of the sport Formula 1 in Russia and jointly developing high-technological solutions.”
“With the National Institute of Aviation Technologies, one of the leading scientific research institutions in Russia, the Sauber F1 team will benefit from the advanced know-how of the front-end Russian scientists and engineers. The objective of the partnership is to open up new perspectives and revenue streams by commercialising jointly developed technologies.”
Marrusia were apparently chasing a deal with the same parties but it is being suggested Ferrari had a big hand in the negotiations behind the scenes.
“The partnership includes further activities for the promotion of the inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix in Sochi in 2014 and attracting the talented young Russian generation towards motorsport. In particular, a development programme will be set up for the Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin to prepare him as a racing driver for the team in 2014.
The background and aims of the 3 parties involved are as follows
The Investment Cooperation International Fund (ICIF) was established with the support of the Administration of the President, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Regional Development of the Russian Federation. The Fund contributes to the development of specific technology programs and technical upgrades of the industry. In addition, it invests in Russian regions and the development and modernisation of industrial enterprises.
The State Fund of Development of the North-West is a not for profit organisation established to finance programs, projects and activities supporting the economic, scientific and cultural heritage of the North-West region of the Russian Federation.
NIAT is one of the leading scientific institutes in Russia. With nearly 1000 employees, NIAT greatly contributes to the development of technologies as well as the aviation industry.
This extensive co-operation will showcase Russian innovation at the pinnacle of motorsport. At the same time, the Sauber F1 Team will have a solid foundation to increase its competitiveness on a long-term basis”.
What is surprising is that there is no mention of the Russian SMP bank together with the denial from Sauber that shares have been sold. Monisha Kaltenborn tells German media, ” the team has not been sold. We are at the beginning of a comprehensive, long-term partnership.”
However, the name of a certain influential Russian business man who is close to Putin – Boris Rotenberg – is still rumoured to be in the mix somewhere. He’s an avid race fan, races and invests substantially in Gran Turismo series. Boris races in the Ferrari Challenge Europe with team Ferrari Moscow and in the Blancpain Series where SMP Racing has 4 Ferrari 458 GT3’s running.
TJ13 believes the bones of the deal will emerge soon and whilst the team has not been sold – 135m euro’s has been suggested to be the total investment. Interestingly monsieur Todt jr’s name is still being mentioned behind the scenes.
Wolff gets to drive
Williams have announced their driver lineup for this weeks testing in Silverstoine. Susie Wolff will drive on Friday and she is jubilant as she explains, “Most of my work is based in the simulator which is why this day is so important for me. It will give me a better understanding of what the car is like on track and how that correlates to the simulator which will also help further develop the work I can do there.”
Interestingly, Williams are switching to Mercedes engines in 2014 and Mercedes DTM driver Daniel Juncadella will also drive for the team during the test.
Juncadella said, “I had my first taste of Formula One as a prize for winning the 2012 Formula Three Euro Series title, but it was a 2009 car so I therefore see this as being the real deal, having the chance to drive a current car in a full test. I’ve spent a couple of days at the factory getting to know the team and I felt at home. Looking at the history of the team is also amazing and so to get this chance with Williams, a team so many great drivers have raced for, makes it even more special.”
So we will be able to gain some comparison on how fast Susie’s really is with someone driving the same car on the same tyres…. most interesting indeed.
Pastor Maldonado will do 1 days work on the Pirelli tyres on offer with a hope to gaining a better understanding of what the tyres will be like for the Hungarian GP.
Bianchi in line
Rumours in Italy are still rife surrounding Felipe Massa’s future. The big Ferrari family love in with Il Padrino, Felipe and all the Maranello brothers and sisters appears to have fooled no one. Clearly it is in the interests of the team to keep Massa focused as they face a a real challenge in the constructor’s championship this year from both Mercedes and Lotus. Ferrari coming 4th would be a disaster.
Ferrari did a nice piece on how well Bianchi is progressing as part of their young driver programme on Ferrari.com at the weekend, but it finished intriguingly with the following. “For Jules, there is of course the one dream still waiting to be realised. ‘Yes, it’s always there and there’s no point talking about it…. Everyone can imagine exactly what it is!”.
The most influential Italian publications – La Gazzetta dello Sport and Autosprint – have made it a matter of record that they and the Tifosi want to see a new driver alongside Alonso in 2014. The rumours about Massa leaving the team are augmented as Livio Oricchio, a well informed Brazilkian F1 correspondent, states in O Estado de S.Paulo that he believes Massa’s manager – Nicolas Todt – has opened talks with teams like Lotus and Force India about the Brazilian driver’s future.
Sergey Sirotkin to drive in 2013
Following Sauber’s announcement of their new partners, Nikolay Vetrov – the manager of the 17 year old Russian driver – has revealed that he expects his driver to be in an F1 car this year. “Our target is simple, we want to be sure we do everything possible to make him ready for his debut in Formula 1 in 2014. We are preparing a package of measures – and in particular I can confirm that we will see Sergey in some Friday free practices.”
Sirotkin is the son of Oleg Sirotkin, who unsurprisingly is the CEO at the National Institute of Aviation Technologies – one of Sauber’s 3 new backers.
Sergey faces the same problem as Susie Wolff, unless he has an F1 driver’s super license he cannot drive in Friday free practice. To get his license he must satisfy certain criteria. One route is to win one of the ‘recognised’ F1 feeder series but he is unlikely to win the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 championship as he is presently 8th in the drivers standings.
Vetrov adds, “I have known Sergey since he was 10, and I’m absolutely sure that he is far ahead of boys who are the same age in terms of self-development: both physically and mentally. That makes me believe he can manage the task in front of him. For us it was not an easy decision, but we have weighed up all the pros and cons – and we understood that someone had to make this step. So we decided to do it ourselves.”
Of course Bernie wants a Russian driver ready to compete in the 2014 inaugural Russian GP in Sochi, but it is the FIA who decide whether a driver’s license is granted. One solution would be for him to drive the required 300km during the YTD at Silverstone this week, but there has been no announcement of this and it would be surprising were that to happen.
Vetrov’s statement is one of absolute certainty, “in particular I can confirm that we will see Sergey in some Friday free practices”, yet how this will happen at present is a mystery.
Gerard Lopez bullish
Lopez reveals to Motorsport-Total that should Romain Grosjean continue where he left off at the Nurburgring, he will have a new contract. He also appears bullish about Raikkonen staying with the team, though whether he is aware that Daniel Riccardio tested for Red Bull yesterday in Idiada near Barcelona – who knows?
It will be interesting to see who lines up for the Milton Keynes team at Silverstone this week, and whether the cat will then be fully out of the bag – so to speak 🙂
Henri Julien dies
The Frenchman Henri Julien, founder of the former Formula 1 team AGS has died age 84. After a short racing career in 1969 he founded the team AGS (Automobiles Gonfaronnaises Sportive), which took part in various race series. In 1986, Julien entered a team into Formula 1, but they only scored 2 points finishes over the 5 years until 1991 when they withdrew. The team became a kind of academy for young/new F1 drivers such as Yvan Capelli, Roberto Moreno and Gabriele Tarquini.
Honda deny testing
James Allison may be lying low whilst the ink on his Ferrari contract is drying, however the rumours about a Honda test car being built for them to run their 2015 engine still abound. Honda head of Motorsport, Yasuhisa Arai, denies this is the case and states “We will not build such a vehicle. The first track use [of our F1 engine] will happen during the winter testing ahead of the season 2015. “
Honda revealed over the weekend, they will bench test this autumn and actually fire up the first iteration of their F1 engine design which will debut on the McLaren car in winter testing 2015. Arai states, “The test benches are now so well developed that we see no reason to build a chassis to test the engines.
I’ve heard of these rumors, but we have no such plans. Our debut will only be in 2015 and not 2014 already which gives us plenty of time for design and development”. He adds interestingly, “And of course we will also closely follow the challenges other manufacturers have to face. “
McLaren use only their test drivers at Silverstone
Having had a terrible start to the year, it appears McLaren have made a decision to use the Silverstone test to primarily develop their car. Neither Jenson Button or Sergio Perez will be present leaving Paffett, Turvey and Magnussen will share the driving responsibilies. This does not mean the Woking team will not do any work with Pirelli on prototype tyres, though it appears the majority of the test will be used to bring new parts and setup to the ailing MP4-28.
More News from Russia
Oleg Sirotkin, the father of 17 year old Russian driver Sergey, has given an interview with F1news.ru that sheds some light to the deal being done between the tripartite group of Russian organisations – including his own – and Sauber.
“We all consider this as a joint investment project. Sponsorship – is quite another thing: you are given the money and set up some sort of advertising. For us it [sponsorship] is not so interesting, because we have our own problems, and the Sauber team has its challenges. The investment project is more interesting, and we know how to attract money. We have two strong foundations, who know how to do this better than others: the money invested in the development will make a profit for both us and the team.
This is a very large investment project and a new form of cooperation, which is very important. It’s a very good idea and we supported it, although we were not its originators”.
This would appear to suggest whilst the team has not been sold, the Russians are taking an equity investment within the team. Oleg was then asked how his son would actually progress into becoming an F1 driver for Sauber. He replied, “the normal route. There will be a number of preliminary tests, and if these tests prove him to be competitive, then will talk about him joining the team. If he needs extra training then there will be some additional preparatory period.
But we believe that Sergey, though young, has already come a long way. He has competed in Formula Abarth, in F3, in AutoGP, and this year is entered in the World Series Renault racing class. So he has been through all the steps. Kimi Raikkonen entered Formula 1 from the Renault 2.0 racing series, and everything was fine. If a guy has a flair and talent, it is not necessary to sit for 10 years in each series”.
There’s no room in Oleg’s sentiments for the possibility young Sergey may not be good enough. It’s a matter of when and how much effort is required.
The ‘originator’ of the idea, as Oleg expresses it, is thought to be Nicholas Todt and the Russians are insisting that Todt jr. has a key position in the organisation. It is apparently yet to be decided what his role in Sauber will be and careful consideration is being given to how to handle having the President of the FIA’s son as team principal – and how this will appear.
Lowe defends the Mercedes hierarchy
There has been much written about the number of chiefs down in Brackley and suggestions they may all be stepping on each others toes. The top level management has Wolf, Lauda and Brawn and under them Aldo Costa, Bob Bell and Geoff Willis.
Paddy Lowe reveals he believes this is in fact a strength of the Mercedes AMG F1 team. “If people think that there are too many technical directors in Mercedes, then all you can say is that it seems to be working for them. Mercedes have made fantastic progress in the last 12 months, so what is wrong with that?
The other thing is that it is not as though there are a whole bunch of cooks trying to do the same job. There is always a huge amount of work to do in this business if you want to be successful. Within two days of starting in my job here, I could already not find the hours in the day to do what I could see needed doing. That is how it should be, that is the nature of F1.”
Lowe argues the roles are well-defined and this kind of division of labour may in fact be delivering the progress Mercedes have seen. “Even though we have a very wide and deep range of senior people at Mercedes, we are all gainfully employed and we all respect each other’s talents.
That plays to our strengths and helps us work together. There is a very good division of effort between the different players. And that is what I am fitting in to. It works really well. You need that strength in depth to put the attention on different things.”
It could be that Paddy’s old team McLaren could learn a thing or two from this approach, having said that Red Bull car concept and development is believed to be driven predominantly by just Adrian Newey. This was the approach used by Gordan Murray when he joined McLaren and built their multiple championship winning cars.
Is the Sauber deal a fraud?
Peter Gysling who works as a Russian correspondent for Swiss television in Moscow has poured scorn on Sauber’s big announcement today. He claims it sounds like a fraudulent promise from an eclectic and mysterious group of disparate foundations and funds.
Gysler mocks the ‘pompous’ sounding names of the institutions involved and the new ‘technology development partnership’ with the Hinwil based outfit. He questions why a North West regional state fund is involved in promoting an event which is to take place in Russia’s south.
Apparently all three institutes are connected in some way to the national government, but Gysler suggests they are just fronts as there are few identifiable activities. Peter Gysler is scathing of the “so-called Institute of Aircraft for example, only apparent output has been to development fire-safe seats for trolley buses. This is also no national research institute, but a private limited company, which ironically belongs to the father of the 17-year-old future Formula 1 driver – Sergey Sirotkin”.
Gysler believes all this is merely oligarch cash sloshing around behind some facade of technology development and exchange and he warns Peter Sauber to be careful. It is obvious Sauber has already had some unproven 17 year old kid forced upon him and Gysler foresees this deal is not yet done and could yet end up ‘a dead end’.
TJ13 comment: It has been a strange day, and it feels as though this news has been hurriedly announced, coming out in dribs and drabs from various sources as the above chronological daily news post represents. Usually these things are better managed and then we have the fact that the detail on the ‘technology sharing’ is also sparse and lacking.
When asked about the specific return’s on investment, Oleg Sirotkin – CEO of the grand sounding National Institute of Aviation Technologies which is in fact a privately owned company – says, “I speak of a cooperation on scientific and technical areas, I speak of training and development, I am also speaking of close cooperation with the Russian motor sport federation. This opens up a wide and highly interesting field of possibilities. The representatives of the racing team have made their proposals, we have examined in them detail and then consulted with the representatives of the two funds (“Investment Cooperation International Fund” and the State Fund for the Development of North-Western Russia, MB ). We then traveled together to Hinwil to check the technical level of the teams”.
It could the team have been forced to make a premature announcement to calm the litigious creditors before the ink is even on a contract. Yet Gysler is right to question the ultimate source of the cash because Chelsea fans will tell you – a Russian oligarch is used to power, absolute power and unquestioned control.