Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 9th August 2013

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Sauber’s Russian investment 06:44 (Updated 17:00)

Vettel’s influence is minimal 11:15

Sochi’s problems solved? 11:40

India’s absence ‘not good’ 12:30

Mclaren Honda deal at least 10 years 16:50

Gerard Lopez defends Lotus F1 Team finances 17:30


Sauber’s Russian investment

Earlier this week TJ13 reported that there has been a delay in the money coming from Sauber’s new Russian investors. Since it became public knowledge that the deal has not been done yet a number of people close to the deal has come out to say they are making progress but the deal is not done yet.

Nikolay Vetrov, manager of Sergey Sirotkin, confirmed the holdup.”Yes, we have not had time to implement the all of the planned ambitious programme,” he told the f1news.ru website, “but otherwise everything is going according to plan.”

Sirotkin’s father Oleg also confirmed the delay in the Sauber deal. “Indeed, we are still in the implementation phase of our agreement of intent,” he said. “We are preparing all the relevant documents, and it takes quite a long time. We have a plan, we’re moving on it, we are somewhat behind in some areas, somewhat ahead in others.

So you are not anywhere really?

What I would say is that this procedure is more technical than political. In general, we do not see any big problems, but there will be a slight shift in the timing.

Could the ‘technical’ aspect be the fact that young Sirotkin does not have a super license? Let us hope Sauber has a plan B… and maybe a C as well.

According an interview ESPN had with Kaltenborn, the first payment as part of the deal with their investors has already been received and their drivers paid. When asked what the first thing is they will do with the arrival of the new funds, maybe pay the drivers Kaltenborn said, “Well this has already happened, given that the contract is in place and we are very happy and relieved for that”.

With the news that some money has been received suppliers are knocking on the door yet again. One supplier, Ferrari, who is demanding at least €9 million for the 2013 engines by the end of August or will shut off the supply of engines, has yet to be paid.

Would it not make sense to pay your main suppliers before you pay your drivers?


Vettel’s influence is minimal

Christian Horner is quoted as saying in an interview with ‘Sporting Life’ that despite publically stating in Hungary that he would prefer Kimi over Fernando, Sebastian Vettel will not try to influence the teams decision for a successor of Mark Webber. “Seb has no problems taking on any driver and has not expressed any preference. He knows both Kimi and Daniel.

The exception of Alonso from that statement is poignant.  It’s curious the U-turn that the team has taken with this matter, given in the aftermath of Seb’s comments there was bullish reply of ‘we’re in charge, not Seb’.  Similar to the stance which Vettel first took after Sepang; changing from not really being aware as to what he had done ‘wrong’, to being fully aware and unashamed.

Continuing, Horner also promises equal treatment, but immediately modifies the statement by stating that if one driver at some (unspecified) point has more points than the other, the team focus will shift. “It depends on what they do on the track. That decides, who is the lead driver and who’s not. The team leader will be he, who has more points at the appropriate time.

Ultimately, the race for the second RB seat in 2014 is going to boil down to who is willing to play second fiddle to Vettel or who can beat him in a car tailored to his needs.  Taking a back seat role is something it is hard to see Alonso or Raikkonen doing, especially when history goes against Alonso for this (think back to 2007).


Sochi’s problems solved?

The 26°C that Sochi is enjoying at the moment is not the only thing that seems to be shining at present.  The bureaucratic tussle with the Russian Motorsports Federation caused Sotchi to miss the FIA deadline for next year. The reason for this was down to a disagreement between the track owners and the authorities, about who would bear the costs to educate the trackside personnel. Despite that, knowing about the relevance of F1’s debut on Russian soil, both sides are now working together to save Sochi’s slot on the 2014 calendar.

Famous track lobotomizer, Hermann Tilke, assures that the track is going to be finished on time. “We are on time with the construction. Everything will be fine. I don’t know much about the bureaucratic background. We just care about the construction.

Meanwhile the deputy chief of Omega, the track owner company, Zabara assures in an interview with ‘Sports Express’ that FIA will get the papers very soon. “We will sign a contract with the Federation this week, before we send our application to the FIA, but we already have an agreement.

So it seems even if you miss a deadline, you can still enter as long as you phone ahead to say you’ll be late.  Sometimes the sport begs the question, Where else but F1?

Of course, Sochi has been aided by other GPs being in doubt, but it is noticeable how keen FOM are to go to the final one of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  Ear-marked as being the countries to watch out for due to their rapidly expanding economies, the sooner all of these GPs can be secured, the more secure F1’s position, as a truly global sport, will be.  The next step will be to (once again) have an Indian driver on the grid, and to secure a race seat for a Chinese driver.

To date, the only Chinese Formula One driver to have taken part in a race weekend is Ma Qing Hua, who took part as a Friday FP1 driver, for the now defunct HRT team in 2012, and Caterham team in 2013.  Ma is currently competing in the GP2 series for the Caterham Racing team.


India’s absence ‘not good’

Sir Jackie Stewart has shot a warning message towards the Indian GP organisers, Jaypee.  Sitting out next year’s Formula One calendar is “not a good message” being sent according the former triple World Champion.

With pressure mounting on Bernie Ecclestone to limit the calendar to 20 races, sitting out in 2014, due to what is described as a scheduling matter, is far less than ideal.  Space on the calendar is already highly competitive, and sitting out a year cannot aid the GP’s chance of being a continuing success.

Speaking to the India-Asian news service, Stewart said “F1 has been able to handle the issue in every other country we go to — whether it’s Hungary, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia or China.”  He indicated the real issue is about tax and customs.  ‘Playing chicken’ is never a good idea, especially not with the likes of Bernie Ecclestone.

Stewart continued, “It is certainly not a good message the Indian Grand Prix is sending out to the motor sports world, and is not positive for India’s image when questions are raised about it.

With spectator numbers having dropped from 95,000 for the inaugural race in 2011 to just 60,000 last year, questions will continue to be asked as to the viability of the race. 16 months will pass before India hosts the next Grand Prix, following this year’s race in October.  Whether India can hold the attention of F1 fans over there remains to be seen.  However, as I alluded to earlier, with no current Indian driver on the F1 grid, and Force India’s finances looking shaky at the best of time, it could be a tricky 18 months coming up for the organisers, Jaypee.


Mclaren Honda deal at least 10 years (ESPN)

Previously only reported as a ‘multi-year deal’ McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh has been quoted by ESPN saying they can look forward to a decade of success with Honda.

we can now look ahead to the next ten years knowing we have got a fantastic budget, resources and a partner to continue winning and being successful in Formula One. It’s a challenge, it always is, but I think it’s an exciting one.

The question is, can McLaren bring back the glory years of McLaren-Honda?


Gerard Lopez defends Lotus F1 Team finances (Autosport)

Lotus F1 Team chairman Lopez said the team’s €120m debt has been misunderstood and denied suggestions that staff had not been paid.

On the €120 million debt, anybody half-smart can find out that number by going to Companies House records and will see that out of that, over €90 million is not ‘real’ debt but shareholder loans made to the company,

He carried on to say that development will carry on, “We are actually bringing a number of new developments throughout the season,” however, “just like everyone else, a lot of the big stuff like the double DRS has already been developed but is going to be put on the car for the upcoming races“.

Two things come to mind, James Allison is not there anymore (big stuff) and Alan Permane needs to speak to Lopez.


23 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 9th August 2013

  1. I would hazard a guess that “technical” in that regard means “bureaucratic”. If the “technology cooperation” aspect of the alleged deal is more than a fairy tale then Sauber has to jump through a few hoops as Russia is rather paranoid when it comes to involvment of foreign corporations. You don’t just cooperate with a Russian company without Putin making really sure that it doesn’t look as if Russia needs help with anything.

  2. In case you hadn’t lost any respect for the RBR leadership post-Sepang, you can lose it now…

    Ricciardo will be a compliant no 2, but don’t forget that Kimi played second fiddle to Massa in ’08, so I wouldn’t rule him out.

    • let’s not forget that Massa gave Raikkonen the 2008 title by handing him the Brazilian win. Raikkonen took before he gave.

    • I still think Ferrari tried to gift the title to Massa and snafu’ed it up with Singapore, at the insistence of Santander. Raikkonen then extended his contract for 2010 to get the mega extra year salary payoff he required from Ferrari for having a title snafu’ed and Alonso punting him out of F1 for a while. If Alonso is now out, and Raikkonen back in, well, that’s some politics from Luca di M! He brought Raikkonen in in the first place!

  3. I can’t help but see an unfortunate degree of similarity between my two favourite teams in red, Ferrari and Liverpool F.C. In Alonso and Suarez both teams have an employee frustrated with working for a top team that keeps under-performing, to the point where they have tried to precipitate a – failed, so far! – move to a rival team for next season, sparking enough fleeting interest to unsettle their team, receiving a verbal slap-down from their own management, and, instead of staying focused on their job, now enter a period of isolation and uncertainty within their team entirely of their own making, and, ultimately, lowering everyone’s opinion of them in the process. Shame, la.

  4. not ‘real’ debt but shareholder loans made to the company !

    I’m sure those who have lent it think it’s quite real. 🙂

    “Not short term creditors” might be more accurate.

    • I think he means they aren’t expecting to pull that money out of Lotus, it’s investment, similar to say Abramovich and Chelsea FC? So basically, they will write if off before selling, and any increase in value it has brought will get them a higher price for their shares.

  5. Can Mclaren bring back the glory days of Mclaren-Honda? In a word, no.

    Back in the 80’s, engine manufacturers did not have the technology that is available now. They all use similar systems and the knowledge base in comparison to 25 odd years ago is enormous. They also don’t have freedom in design, the engines will be frozen and Honda’s last foray in F1 wasn’t exactly successful. Engines were both too heavy and thirsty.

    Chassis design and aerodynamics were in their infancy then too. It was Williams in 1991 that really started moving the game forward. Again, technology now with CFD and super computers has advanced so far that the returns for investment are on a diminishing scale.

    Simply put, Mclaren and Honda were so far ahead of their rivals that they dominated the sport.

    You would have to then look at the driving talent available at the time.
    Mclaren employed Senna and Prost. The only time in history that another pairing were anywhere close would have to be Fangio and Moss. They dominated F1 too.

    To have comparable talent now, they would need 2 of Vettel, Alonso or Hamilton to be signed to the team, and for the other to retire. Thereby there would be a gulf between the teams drivers and the rest.

    So in conclusion, for Mclaten to return to the glory days, ideally Hamilton and Vettel sign up, Newey returns to the fold rather than all their design team leaving, Alonso retires, and the likes of Allison take gardening leave permanently.

    It’s a freak event when everything falls into place. They will have success but the level is too good now and the rules too restrictive to allow that level of glory again

    • Hi HwS… I would be interested to know more about these ideas – can you develop it further…?

      • Hi BJF,
        Maybe I’m naive or optimistic but I look back at the history of F1 and see eras of domination by teams when they generally have an advantage over the others. As time moves on, the advantage lessens and the competition has caught up.

        If you think back, Cooper had such an advantage with the mid engined car, but once everyone adopted that philosophy, they were one of the pack. Lotus with the monocoque chassis, then the Lotus 49, the 72 was a similar step forward.
        Ferrari in the 70’s had a power advantage and a good enough chassis that they won titles but the rules were rewritten in 78 with the lotus 79. Once everyone else was running skirts Lotus won little more.
        Mclaren introduced carbon fibre to F1 and its advantages were not immediately obvious. When they built a car with a bespoke engine, it dominated.
        It was a different way of thinking, previously the engine was built and the chassis fashioned around it, if you like. The future was obviously better integration between chassis and engine.
        Mclaren and Honda dominated in similar fashion between 88 & 91, but even in 1991 Williams Renault was looking ominously strong. Honda withdrew in 1992.
        By the early 90’s aero was truly becoming king, and the leader of this technology was undoubtedly Williams and Newey.

        Ferrari dominated for 5 years but although the aero was as good as anyone’s, they had a huge advantage with Bridgestone.

        My belief is that Honda returning will not have the advantage of breaking new ground with their engines. I saw the Spirit Honda run its first race in 1983 at Silverstone but it was an era when engine builders didn’t have the computing tools they have now, they also had European arrogance about this oriental intruder.
        To be honest, following the death of Ferrari, the team was in a shocking state, and practically rudderless, the only team that had the resources to compete with Mclaren was Williams, and they were running Judd engines in 88 then the returnee Renault, but they took 3 years to catch up. The teams are too good to be caught out like that again, they have learnt their lessons.

        Mugen maintained a prescence in F1 from 1992 until Hondas last return but the competition had moved on and Honda was one of the also rans.

        It interests me what they will gain from this chapter of their F1 story. F1 used to be a grounding for their best engineers, to prove themselves before returning to the factory. But with all the restrictions in place and design freezes, the only avenue of true development must be the Energy Recovery System.

        My last comment was really about how would a Mclaren Honda repeat previous success.
        They would need the best two drivers in the world, and if it happens to be Seb and Lewis, the other great has to be handicapped in a Sauber for example.
        They would need the best designer and the others teams taking gardening leave for a year. It’s just my opinion of how truly special that Mclaren squad was back in 1988, they really had no competition

        • Many thanks – I like your reasoning…
          And I don’t find you naive… 😉
          I feel an article coming on here…

          • “It interests me what they will gain from this chapter of their F1 story.”

            Branding. Honda have largely eschewed any form of motor racing other than what they consider to be the elite level of single-seaters, Indy Car in the US and F1 throughout the rest of the world. A successful return to F1 would strengthen their brand image as the leading engine partner in both elite single-seater series.

            “But with all the restrictions in place and design freezes, the only avenue of true development must be the Energy Recovery System.”

            I’ll disagree with that. While I do agree that ERS will play a significant role it is in fact the one area that is the most controlled in terms of how much power can be harvested and how long it can be used. Fuel efficiency will be one of if not the major design areas. Those that can maximize their fuel usage will have a huge advantage over those that can’t. Their are already rumours that Renault may be looking at red-lining their engine at 13,000 – 14,000 RPM which is well below the 15,000 RPM limit. And Honda in the first turbo era were without question the best at maximizing fuel usage / power output. The other area you omit is the increase in weight that an F1 car will have next year. The minimum weight goes up to 685kg next year from 642kg this year. Chassis design to incorporate the extra weight and equipment, largely from the ERS system, will be critical. Getting the chassis balanced is going to be quite a challenge. I’ve read in several places that the Mercedes FRIC system may have to be ditched because it will be extremely difficult to incorporate into the 2014 car.

            I’ll also disagree that having the two drivers that are considered the best in the world on the same team guarantees long-term success.

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