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India gone forever? (10:20)
Rush: How good is it really? (11:15)
Massa to McLaren? (14:44)
India gone forever?
Amusingly, Ecclestone denied anything to do with the draft calendar which was circulating during the last race weekend in Monza. When asked by Sky’s Martin Brundle aboiut the 2014 races her replied, “What calendar?”. Ecclestone went on to claim the schedule had not come from him and that in fact there were 22 races scheduled for 2014, not 21 as on the draft schedule.
This of course would mean that New Jersey will make it’s debut next year, though with nothing other than a conditional $100m credit facility from USB, the promoters as yet have no credible funding solution to stage the F1 event.
We were already aware prior to last weekend that India was taking a Sabbatical. They claimed they could not host a race in Autumn 2013 and again in spring 2014 due to scheduling matters, yet this is something it appears Korea is managing.
As always, these issues are about cash. The first Indian GP was in 2011, yet the agreement with FOM would have been finalised back in 2010. This includes how many tens of million US dollars the organisers will pay to FOM to host the race.
Sportsbusiness International reported this weekend Ecclestone stating, “The trouble in India is a simple one. The rupee has devalued an enormous amount so it is all very political. We won’t be there next year”.
So it’s not about scheduling, it’s about money. The Indian rupee exchanged at about 45 to the US dollar when Jaypee Sports signed the final deal with FOM in 2010. Today the rupee has fallen to around 62 to the dollar – around a 30% drop.
Ecclestone’s comments may suggest he will not enforce the terms of the Indian race contract and allow the organisers to default. The Organisers of the European GP in Valencia were allowed a similar exit with 2 years left to run on the street circuit’s contract until 2014.
There was indeed a proposal to save the GP in Valencia made by the regional president, Alberto Fabra to the mayor of the city of Valencia – Rita Barbera. She told El Pais, “He spoke of the possibility of involvement, but he spoke to me about Cheste, and I have an urban circuit,” She then insisted, “The budget of Valencia is for Valencians”
Cheste is where the Ricardo Tormo circuit is located – some 26 kilometres outside the Valencia city limits. It currently hosts a MotoGP event and has in past times been a winter test track used by the F1 teams. Clearly Mayor Barbera was not going to be persuaded to put Valencian tax payers cash into the Cheste administrative regional coffers.
Ecclestone in his Sky interview admitted that he only had agreement with the teams for 20 races in 2014, but a cunning smile crept across his lips when asked by Brundle how he would persuade the teams to change their minds.
Rush: How good is it really?
Given the paucity of Hollywood F1 films over the years, to receive popular accolades as ‘the best ever F1 film’ was hardly a hurdle of Olympian difficulty for the film Rush to clear. The reviews are generally pretty good, yet in some way expected.
I have been discussing ‘Rush’ with a number of colleagues who who lived through and even worked in F1 around the period when Lauda and Hunt raced. The best they’ll give me is qualified praise for the movie.
Yet younger F1 fans who were not born in that era appear to be ebullient and gushing over the film and receive support from Sir Jock, who comments “I think it [Rush] will do very well for Formula One … particularly in the United States, where Formula 1 isn’t really recognised.” (Tel;egraph).
Whilst at the Gooward Revivial this past weekend, the Scottish F1 champion praised the film and actor Daniel Brühl who plays Niki Lauda. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the actor who plays Niki Lauda actually gets nominated. Because he was more Niki Lauda than Niki Lauda.”
I would however be surprised were Daniel Brühl to win a prestigious award for his portrayal of Lauda – simply because Lauda wasn’t that interesting a person. So Bruhl delivers to us a Lauda… who is more like a version of Lauda created by somebody else… in other words, not actually Lauda…. but a Lauda who would have been more interesting than the Lauda who actually was….
Yet Bruhl’s portrayal along with some excellent action was what made the film bearable to watch.
Intrigue and dastardly deviousness is a primary tool in the hands of the Hollywood script writer as they craft a tale of suspense and surprise. Yet there was nigh on a complete absence of the plots and the politics surrounding the 1976 season – which were even in that era, particularly extra-ordinary. This is a missed opportunity for the movie.
Kevin Eason of the Times sums it up best for me, “If you are an anorak-wearing, stopwatch-carrying F1 fan, then look away now because, inevitably, liberties have been taken with the facts and there is little of the black politics and chicanery that also marred that fateful 1976 season.”
Sir Jock may indeed be correct in that Rush will raise awareness in the USA for F1. I would suggest that of a much wider audience. Movie go-ers around the globe who are not F1 fans will in some way be attracted to the sport we love. For this, the movie should be applauded.
My personal sense is one of disappointment – predictable disappointment – for all the reasons which make incredible story lines from sport impossible to then be recreated in a script.
The truth is – reality is often infinitely greater than fiction; and it is certainly preferable in this example to the average re-telling and re-enaction of such a fabulous reality.
Todt fights back – with a wet fish
Even prior to David Ward’s announcement that he will challenge Jean Todt in the imminent elections for the top job at the FIA, there had been a lot of politicking under way. Max Mosley and Gerhard Berger had been week on week quoted by a plethora of European publications calling for F1 budgetary controls.
Sit this against the backdrop of an unsigned Concorde agreement where both Ecclestone and Todt agree on the creation of a new F1 strategy group. This would be an 18-member think-tank made up of six votes from the FIA, six from the sport’s commercial rights holders and six from the teams, which will meet to discuss and vote on the future direction of the sport.
Having been accused of corruption and reported to the FIA ethics committee by his opponent Ward, Todt began a fight back this weekend. He was adamant that developing a strategy to cut costs would be one of the first topics on the agenda when the new Strategy Group meets.
He also made it clear that the FIA would not be afraid to use its six votes and together with support from F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone, they would push forward with tougher restrictions and ensure teams, like Red Bull, which have resisted such restrictions in the past, will be unable to block the changes.
“I have been reading a lot of things about cost-cutting and it is something that you cannot address with the teams. There have been a lot of discussions with the teams to talk about the RRA and all that, and the teams said we have never had a strong and clear approach about the proposal of cost cutting.
So where are we now? We have been implementing, when the Concorde is settled, a new governance, where there will be a strategy group. It will be on the agenda, at the first meeting when we are involved, to bring in cost cutting.
I can guarantee you the FIA will vote in favour of cost cutting. Then we will see.”
This may be music to many ears in F1, however, it’s a bit on the never – never. Nearly one year on from when the last Concorde agreement expired, we have no new contract in place. In fact during the past months, each of the tri-partitie camps at times finds no agreement beneficial to their own cause,
Then in fact, currently, there is no indication that the teams will agree and concede a 2/3rds majority power to the FIA combines with FOM/Ecclestone on matters such as this.
Hollow promises from a so far anonymous FIA President.
Andretti would run a ‘customer car’ team
For a slow Monday, we’re stoking the fires of controversy and debate here. I await castigation for the views expressed on ‘Rush’ and now to introduce the thorny debate over customer cars…. This is more grandee politics and something the teams should consider when acceding 12 votes to the FIA/Ecclestone and only 6 for themselves on the new Strategy Group think tank.
Mario Andretti claims his son and failed F1 driver, Michael, would be interested in running an F1 team if he could purchase a chassis already complete. The 73 year old ex-world champion tells Zeitung newspaper, “I have already spoken with Bernie Ecclestone about it.
It would also be a way for new teams to be a part of formula one, even if they don’t have their own racing car factories. My son would be one of the first who would come in, if he could buy a car from one of the top manufacturers.”
Andretti Snr rather simplistically dismisses the viewpoint that customer cars would devalue the sport. “I find the idea of a blue Ferrari overtaking a red Ferrari very interesting. It would give Formula One a whole new appeal.”
Michael Andretti, whose F1 career was most brief, owns and Indycar team and Andretti Autosport will be on the grid for the FIA’s Formula E series – for electric single seaters – which begins in the Autumn of 2014.
There is a monumental gulf of difference between forcing teams teams to apply some form of resource restriction to the gazillions they spend on aerodynamic engineering and on the other hand allowing any Tom, Dick or Harry to be able to own and run a team in F1.
Blue F1 Ferrari’s? Is the man insane?????????????????? (Time for a Lapsang Souching).
Massa to McLaren?
Okay, so we’ve previously discussed the possibility of Massa to Lotus, Sauber, Williams and Torro Rosso. Who is left?
Over the weekend, Felipe has spiced things up a little telling Brazilian media ‘Golobo’ that, “We’re negotiating with Lotus and it’s going well. They have a competitive car, which is what I want”. Massa adds, “We are also in contact with McLaren, but this is more difficult to judge,”
So let’s unpick that coded message. McLaren have not said no to Massa, but they are not as forward or advanced as are Lotus. Surely Jenson should not have cause for concern and surely McLaren wouldn’t be discussing 2015 with Massa without doing a deal for 2014 – hence the discussions must be serious and for 2014.
Massa also tells Globo that we may be able to look forward to some action between him and Alonso for the final 7 races of this season. No longer will we see Felipe as a submissive number 2. “No, I won’t be doing that. I’m going to attack,” Massa promised.
That’s all very well and good Felipe ‘baby’, so long as the team don’t accidentally break the seal on an engine or gearbox – as happened in Austin. Then there could be a Webber-esque missing wheel pity stop…. not enough fuel to race flat out…. a tweak on the rev limiter… so many possibilities…