Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 27th September 2013

This page will be updated throughout the day.

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Sochi costs soar (04:00)

Kimi will race in Korea (04:00)

The return of Rubens (10:50)

Lauda Watch (11:03)

Another step towards Concorde (11:06)

The 2014 calendar (12:13)

GMM fall for it (12:40)

800 euro’s per kilometre (13:10)

FIA provisional calendar announced (16:38)

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Sochi costs soar

The cost for the development of the first F1 Grand Prix circuit in Russia has soared from original estimates.

The promoters had missed the deadline for their application to the FIA to be included in the 2014 calendar due to a dispute between the parties involved which concerned who would pay for the marshaling.

No matter, in F1, rules and deadlines are set to be broken and Sochi will appear on the final calendar announced by the FIA following the conference currently underway in Dubrovnik.

The original cost of the circuit was estimated at €142 million according to Russian daily publication Vedomosti. The actual cost is now believed to be around €260 million.

On the one hand this may appear fairly reasonable as Austin Texas cost somewhere between $350-400m which when converted is not too far from the cost of Sochi.

Yet, considering the Texas circuit was built from scratch in wasteland and the Sochi infrastructure was already in place due to the Olympic development in which it sits, this is a high price indeed. Allegations of corruption have persisted during the construction and the manner in which the Russian economy operates most probably explains this big overspend.

Guennadi Saienko, of the promoter Omega Center claims, “It [the original costing] was a rough calculation, not taking into account many of the necessary requirements of the designer, the company Tilke GmbH, which has supervised the construction.”

Mmm. So how was the original estimate calculated. Regardless of what people think of the Tilke company, they have been up front over costing for all the circuits in which they have been contracted for development.

Sounds like someone, somewhere is guilty of wishful thinking and add to that the plethora of brown paper envelopes that have been issued, it would not be surprising to see the final costing rise further.

Still, unlike New Jersey, we will see Sochi on the 2014 calendar in just a few days.

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Kimi will race in Korea

There have been concerns that Kimi Raikkonen’s back injury would require him to undergo surgery to ensure he is fit for 2014.

Kimi personal trainer has played down reports that the Finn could sit out next weekend’s Korean Grand Prix due to injury.

The Lotus driver struggled with pain throughout the recent Singapore weekend, and it emerged afterwards that Raikkonen is suffering an injury where a rib meets his spine.

Subsequently, rumours emerged that the 2007 world champion will have to undergo surgery.

This season there has been no evidence of Kimi being unfit to race, but his alleged illness in Spa which prevented him from performing his regular media duties sparked rumours he was not playing ball due to Lotus’ not paying him and the imminent announcement that he would be driving for Ferrari in 2014.

The official line is that Kimi’s injury dates back to 2001 when the Finn suffered injury from a huge rewards crash during testing.

German correspondents Frank Schneider and Nicola Pohl have speculated last weekend that in fact Raikkonen hurt his back in an alcohol-fueled stumble on a staircase. A Lotus ‘insider’ has also suggested been reported to suggest that this injury was due to ‘a recent incident’.

However, Kimi’s fitness trainer Mark Arnall tells Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat that, “Kimi will be back in full running order next week in Korea.”

So, what should we believe? The timing of Kimi’s illnesses and his desperate qualification in 13th place at the Singapore GP have all occurred during what has been a turbulent time off the track for everyone’s favourite F1 party animal.

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The return of Rubens

Sir Frank Williams admitted this year for the first time that one of his biggest mistakes was shipping out Damon Hill the year after he became world champion. IMHO, I would add the disposal of the services of Ruebens Barirchello.

From a nostalgic point of view, it was a shame Rubens didn’t get to call his own retirement and say goodbye at his own race in Brazil, yet if you never jump indeed one day you will be pushed.

Rubens 19 year F1 career saw him drive for Jordan, Stewart, Ferrari, Honda, Brawn and finally Williams. His record 326 F1 races (322 starts), 14 pole positions, 68 podium finishes and 11 wins demonstrate this Brazilian driver was no slouch, though he failed to make the most of his best opportunity to win a WDC in the dominant Brawn.

Rubens has been travelling with the F1 circus this year as a TV pundit for Globo, the Brazilian channel which televise the Formula 1 races, and a whisper was heard this weekend gone that he has raised more than $10m in sponsorship for a bid to return to F1 in 2014.

Barrichello himself added fuel to fan the speculative flames when questioned whether he could cope with the demands of driving an F1 car again, “I would only have to train my neck. Then I could race tomorrow,

It would be ironic if Ecclestone’s plea for Brazil to remain represented on the grid in 2014 was in the form of Barrichello rather than Felipe, but here’s to hoping they will both be present. In the context of the booing debate and anti-Vettel feeling, both Rubens and Felipe are respected and loved widely from inside and outside the world of Formula 1.

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Lauda Watch

The secret TJ13 obo team have been busy this week. Apparently Niki is finally getting the billing he deserves – and not from the Rush movie.

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Another step towards Concorde

You may be reading elsewhere that the Concorde agreement is finally signed. This is not the case.

The FIA have just announced, “The agreement reached by the FIA and the Formula 1 Group in July 2013, setting out the framework for implementation of the Concorde Agreement for the period 2013 – 2020, has now come into force, following the approval of the respective governing bodies of the signatory parties. 

This agreement provides the FIA with significantly improved financial means to pursue its regulatory missions and to reflect the enhanced role undertaken by the FIA in the Motor Sport.  The parties have agreed a strong and stable sporting governance framework which includes the Formula 1 Group, the FIA and the participating teams.  The agreement lays down solid foundations for the further development of the FIA Formula One World Championship. 

Now that the agreement is operative, the parties will move towards the conclusion of a multi-party Concorde agreement.

FIA President Jean Todt said: ‘We can be proud of this agreement, which establishes a more effective framework for the governance of the FIA Formula One World Championship.  The FIA looks forward to continuing to fulfill its historic role as the guarantor of both regulation and safety in F1 for many years to come.’

Bernie Ecclestone, CEO of the Formula 1 Group, added: ‘I am very pleased that the agreement between the FIA and the Formula 1 Group has been concluded’.

The reality is that the FIA are some 25m Euro’s a year better off from FOM Group and $15m a year from the levy on team points.

David Ward wants visibility on where this extra funding will be spent. “The final conclusion of the negotiations over the Concorde Agreement is a very positive development for the FIA. This is a solid achievement by Jean Todt and I congratulate him for it. The question now is what will the new resources from Concorde be used for? The answer should be for investment in ‘grass roots’ development of motor sport”. I guess that’s a no to touring the world 5 star and first class getting people to wear seatbelts then.

What may be pivotal for the future is the establishment of the ‘Strategy Group’ which will determine the new rule making procedures. This is composed of 18 votes, 6 for the FIA, 6 for FOM Group and 6 votes for the teams which include – McLaren, Williams, Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes,

Martin Whitmarsh alluded to the fact that this new group may face times of crisis ahead, as the larger FOTA teams may feel obliged to represent the smaller teams who have no voice particularly on the matter of getting costs down – an issue which threatens the existence of F1 as we have known it.

James Allen astutely observes, “The F1 commission is still in place and has not been slimmed down as had been mooted. So if the teams work together with other voting parties like the tyre supplier, sponsors and promoters it is possible that they could overturn a Strategy Group proposal”.

If the FIA, as Todt has suggested, tries to regulate on cost control it will be interesting to see who wins the political vote of Mercedes. Todt already had the agreement of all the teams bar Ferrari and Red Bull, but refused to act without unanimity.

Can Ecclestone (6 votes) plus Ferrari and Red Bull persuade Mercedes to join their ‘do nothing on costs ‘ cause celebre? Even then we’ll be once again returned the an F1 stalemate – so nothing new here.

Ecclestone’s FOM Group also has bi-lateral agreements with all the teams except Marussia, who may be issuing a complaint to the European Commission under anti-competitive activity regulations. It may be other teams not represented under the new system of governance enter similar complaints around the structure of the new F1 Strategy Group.

If these protests were to gain ground, then it could reduce the power of FOM to restrict entries into the F1 WDC and WCC competition and force them to remunerate each fairly. Further, once again the rule making process for the sport could be thrown into chaos.

All this means we could be a little way off before these matters are finalised. In the words of the old Diana Krall standard popularised by the blue-eyed Rat Pack member – “There may be trouble ahead”.

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The 2014 calendar

The FIA will announce a provisional calendar for 2014 later today. I emphasise the word provisional because this in the past has frequently been subject to revision.

Ecclestone claimed recently there will be 22 races, though this is unlikely. A source in Dubrovnik suggests there will be revisions to Ecclestone’s proposal, which we can only assume was in fact the leaked calendar from just over 2 weeks ago.

Whether the FIA will present a delusional 22 race schedule or not, we will have to wait and see.

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GMM fall for it

There is a story going around the plethora of GMM news agency websites which publish their stories verbatim, that “Ferrari joined the ‘taxi ride’ fun after the recent Singapore Grand Prix, sending Mark Webber a hefty bill for hitching a ride back to the pits with Fernando Alonso”.

Here are some of the websites who receive the 8-20 stories a day written by GMM. grandprix.com, motorsport.com, speedTV.com, autoweek.com, f1today.net, worldcarfans.com, motorsport.nextgen-auto.com, f1orbit.com, Inautonews.com, auto123.com, yallaf1.com, flagworld.com, gptoday.com

Ferrari InvoiceTJ13 published this fake invoice days ago, and it was designed by twitter guru Rob Newman who runs the twittersphere domain @GrandPrixDiary. The amusing document was picked up by a German Red Top publication and run as it was intended – a fake.

Ferrari’s response to the story was, “Some believe that pigs might actually fly…especially in Germany… LOL”

Andrew Maitland who runs GMM threatened to sue Adam Parr for plagiarism earlier this year when Parr’s book, “F1: The art of war” included some GMM content without permission.

It may be more appropriate for GMM to spend the money used for pointless legal battles on recruiting a better translation service – as they’ve got this one horribly wrong.

Be careful what you believe and where it comes from.

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800 euro’s per kilometre

Andy Stevenson of Force India reveals today to AMuS, “Every kilometer costs now 800 euros, Many of us can not afford these days of testing.” He is referring to the cost of the new V6 Turbo engines for 2014.

Each new unit is estimated to cost around 2m Euro’s and when compared to the present cost of a Cosworth F1 engine at 60,000 Euro’s, the contrast is stark.

The new regulations will allow the teams just 5 engines per driver per year and there is concern that Ecclestone’s proposed 22 race calendar will see a amrked rise in engine failures during the 2014 season. F1 fans of more than 10 years standing may feel this is a good thing, and remember the days when reliability was a key issue in an F1 season.

Yet Charlie Whiting states today that with the extra 8 days testing and the proposed calendar, “If there are 22 races, we can talk to us about a sixth engine per driver.”

Excellent solution!!! Not only is there a monumental cost increase for the smaller and mid-field teams, but this alone would increase the cost of going racing by around 7-10%. No wonder Force India want 1:1 wind tunnel time and more time allowed for CFD development.

Formula 1 is losing the plot!

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FIA provisional calendar announced
Reminds me of the song……
22 green bottles, standing on the wall
22 green bottles, standing on the wall
And if 1 green bottle should accidentally fall
There’ll be 21 green bottles, standing on the wall
21 green bottles, standing on the wall
21 green bottles, standing on the wall
And if………….
16/03 Australia
30/03 Malaysia
06/04 Bahrain
20/04 China
27/04 Korea (provisional)
11/05 Spain
25/05 Monaco
01/06 USA, New Jersey provisional*)
08/06 Canada
22/06 Austria
06/07 Britain
20/07 Germany
27/07 Hungary
24/08 Belgium
07/09 Italy
21/09 Singapore
05/10 Russia
12/10 Japan
26/10 Abu Dhabi
09/11 USA, Austin
16/11 Mexico (provisional*)
30/11 Brazil
Here we go again. One of the first ever TJ13 articles in 2012 was a sceptical examination of the calendar. The conclusion was that there would be just 19 races which luckily turned out to be the case.
So we have 22 races for 2014, yet 3 are provisional. The interesting one here is Korea as unlike India there have been no noises from the organisers to suggest they are unable to host the race in 2014. They are looking for a reduced fee, but we shall see.
New Jersey is clearly not happening as it is back to back with Monaco and the weekend before Canada. Yet if this is the only casualty from the schedule, the 2014 season will see more races than ever before in a single year.
Austin and Mexico are back to back and then there is a free weekend before the final race in Brazil, In fact there are 5 back to back weekends on the calendar. The others are, Malaysia and Bahrain, China and Korea, Germany and Hungary, Russia and Japan.
The real interesting news though coming through today, is that the FIA and FOM have agreed a new maximum race schedule of 25 races. Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso complained more than 20 was too many, so let’s see how quickly the tri-partite agreement  to conclude the Concorde process is finalised.
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28 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Friday 27th September 2013

  1. LOL folks, did you write that in a sleepy state, too? 😉 What are costings?

    Anywho, about the Kimi situation. Most German media link Kimi’s back injury to a testing shunt in Magny-Cours 2001. Broadcaster RTL however speculates that it could have resulted from Kimi falling down a flight of stairs in a drunken stupor. That would just be soo Kimi 😀

  2. Hi judge , Leo turrini in his blog start another portion of silly season … Vettel has signed for prancing horse for 2016 … Do you have any confirm ? Ciao Dino

    • Well, it would explain, why he only extended his contract for one year until the end of 2015. The questiuon is if ‘nando would still extend his contract beyond 2016. I admit eyebors and finger in one team would be a mouthwatering prospect 😀

    • Indeed. I believe Newey will also leave Red Bull that year to design an America’s Cup yacht challenger.

      The intensity to win this year has been immense and very costly, and the team were also working on the 2015 chassis and configuration as early as May this year.

      For those who want to see serious competition in 2015, you’d better hope the Renault engine is at a significant disadvantage to the Ferrari or Mercedes because the confidence in the car design around the new regulations is very high.

      Could be 5 in a row for Vettel.

      • Wow, let’s hope Ben Ainslie will still be sailing, imagine a yacht designed by Newey and captained by Ainslie, America’s Cup will be coming back to Britain after 160 years, genius!

        Back to F1 now. Vettel to Ferrari is not a surprise. The surprise would be for it not to happen.

        • On the note of yachts… Don’t those yachts looks super sexy! A flying boat really.

          Newey will just have to turn the RB of the previous year upside down and strap a sail to it… That would surly work 😜

  3. Rubens is delusional if he really wants to return to F1. He won’t get a top seat and thus spend his time at the back end of the grid in an uncompetetive car. That’s more risk and less rewards. What’s the point. He had a successful career but wasn’t good enough for the WDC. He should just make peace with that fact like Couldhard did and move on.

    • I’m pretty sure Lotus wouldn’t mind the sponsor millions or Sauber or Williams. That might not be cockpits to fight for a WDC, but still desirable seats. I would like a return of Rubinho 🙂

    • I have never been Rubens biggest fan but to his credit he out scored and out qualified both Maldonado and especially the highly rated(I would say too highly) Hulkenberg in their rookie years just a few years ago.

      The only thing against him is age but is this really such a problem. 44 year old Schumacher was more than matching Rosberg last year who alongside Hamilton now looks one of the fastest drivers in F1.

      If Sauber do hire him they may just make sure they get it wrote in the contract if he whinges once against the team he’s out.

  4. that stupid one month break between Hungary and Belgium ruins everything.
    also don’t know why the NJ GP would be a problem with LeMans when the GP would start after LeMans ends due to time zone difference.

    • Because when Ecclestone was rambling on about races to replace Valencia, he bumbled and suggested France for the Le Mans weekend this year.

      The FIA shot off and legislated against it in case the old duffer was serious.

      But you are right about the NJ race and time zone

  5. Oh God, another year where the calendar won’t be finalised until the end of the year (ie end of ’14). Woop de doo. At least we’ll have some entertainment over the new year before the season begins.

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