This page will be updated throughout the day.
Please if you are on Twitter press the tweet button below. If you re-write and tweet individual story headlines don’t forget to include #F1.
You may not realise how significant this is and has helped grow our community significantly in the past 4 weeks – thank you.
Desperado goes Indian? (00:28)
Rosberg to marry. Nice! (11:14)
Sights at the Indian GP (11:34)
Caption Competition (12:03)
Indian optimism (16:42)
McLaren partner events in India (16:54)
FIA rejects Wards complaint (17:15)
Race Suits – Did you know….? (18:17)
Is 2014 the year for rookie F1 drivers?
Jonathan Neale, MD of McLaren, speaking on a Vodafone fan phone in believes rookies are the wrong way to go for 2014. When asked about Toro Rosso’s appointment of Daniil Kvyat he had reservations over the policy. “Stepping up from GP3 into F1 is still a very big step, with the weight of expectation. In particular with the transition in technology from this year to next year”.
The counter argument is that such a sea change in the regulations and the cars for 2014 levels the playing field somewhat. Yet Neale explains, “We ourselves are really trying to work out how this package is going to operate effectively, how we run efficiently, how we overcome the aerodynamic and powertrain challenges. It’s difficult enough for us without throwing a young driver into the mix”.
Of course there are numerous examples of drivers coming from junior series they didn’t win being successful in F1 however Neale qualifies this view when he observes, “It has been done successfully historically by exceptional candidates, but Formula 1 is a very high-pressure environment and very unforgiving.”
McLaren currently have the 2 most promising young drivers in Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne, who finished first and second in FR3.5 this season. It seems they will not be able to command an f1 drive in 2014 but Neale is optimistic. “We need the young drivers coming through. I think that some of the work that’s been done around the reintroduction of testing will help that. It’s an exciting prospect watching the next generation of drivers readying themselves on the horizon.
Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne are mouth-watering prospects for us for the future, and that’s all in the mix at the moment as we decide what we’re going to do with our driver line-up over the next two or three years. We’re working very hard to make sure that those two are part of our future plans”.
So is 2014 a good year for a rookie to join F1 as the current drivers face sea changes in car design and control beyond anything known for several years; or is it the year for teams to play safe with pilots who have experience and can therefore adapt quickly and know what they’re doing?
Desperado goes Indian?
Those who can read the F1 tea leaves could see the fact the Indian GP has been dropped from the 2014 calendar signals its death knell. Yet the promoters cling to hope that should this weekend be a success they’ll be able to join in the f1 party in 2015.
Vicky Chandhok, president of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India and the father of the racing driver Karun Chandhok, tells the Guardian, “If it doesn’t come back in 2015, it may never come back at all. That is my concern. Once you lose a race it can be gone for ever.
“That is why I am calling on everyone in India to make this Sunday’s race an event to remember, so everyone in Formula 1will realise that it needs the Indian Grand Prix. If we lose it, I would be very disappointed, because it took us 10 years to get the race in the first place. It was in 1999 that Bernie Ecclestone [the sport’s commercial rights holder] first had talks with organisers and sponsors in India.”
The public reasons for the Indian GP being dropped from the 2014 calendar are explained by Chandhok. “Basically there were two reasons. First, Bernie wanted to switch the race to March but there was no way we could stage two races in five months. Second, everything has become a lot more expensive.
The rupee has depreciated by over 40% in the past two years and in August hit an all-time low against the dollar. And with an imminent general election everyone is a little sensitive in a country where poverty is widespread”.
Chandhok adds: “This race has been good for the economy for the past two years. Hotels and taxi drivers have been busy and so have other workers. The taxpayers have not been paying for it. It has been a private promoter.
India is now recognised worldwide as making great technological advances. So F1 makes sense. It is more than just a sporting occasion. It is an event capable of encouraging people all over the world. It is good for India and good for its government.”
The F1 model requires countries and regions to shell out hundred’s of millions in hosting fees to FOM and the promised return is incremental international exposure and inward investment. Korea bought this and the South Jelloa Govt will spend some $600m over the life of the contract in the hope of this promise being true.
Yet Indian authorities appear to be intelligently oblivious to this marketing ploy. Further, the the government has perversely, but not necessarily inappropriately – levied incremental entertainment tax on the F1 promoters Jaypee Sports – of some $5m.
The rationale proffered by the authorities for this levy is simple. “Jaypee Sports had held F1 race on two occasions from October 28 to October 30 in 2011 and from October 26 to October 28 in 2012, yet the shortfall amount of Rs 12.39 crore has not yet been deposited as per the apex court’s October 21, 2011 order.”
Respect – to the new order of how to deal with Ecclestone and FOM – India!!!
Hülkenberg: The Glamour is mostly gone
Asked about his impression of the F1 themed movie “Rush”, which shows the fierce rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt in 1976, Nico Hülkenberg admits that not much of F1’s glamour is left these days. Since the times of Lauda and Hunt Formula One has changed fundamentally. With the notable exception of Kimi Räikkönen, most drivers appear too stream-lined today.
“The movie represents a time long gone. Today things are a lot different,” the German explained in the interview with German broadcaster ZDF. Perhaps the glamour may not completely lost, but is much reduced. “Of course a lot of people think about the glamour of F1, and it sort of still exists – in Monaco in particular. But on many other tracks it’s more or less non-existent. Everything has changed and become extremely professional and probably sterile, too.”
But not all was better in the olden days, according to the Hulk. Even more significant are the changes and advances in driver safety. “The danger isn’t a permanent companion anymore. Back then was a completely different times. Drivers back then put their life on the line everytime they raced. Today things are different. The cars are much safer now and the tracks have improved, too.”
Hmm… so Hulk likes the safety of the Tilke-dromes, but not their sterility. Bit of a conondrum, this…
Ferrari confront criticism from the tifosi
TJ13 has been reporting since before the summer the ‘civil war’ which has been taking place in Ferrari-land. Clearly it bubbled over publically on Alonso’s birthday when he had his ear ‘tweaked’ by Il Padrino.
Yet the stories keep coming of persistent disagreements at senior levels within the team and last week TJ13 observed a sneaky insertion into an Ferrari.com release that suggested Alonso was being baby sat by Dominicali.
Whilst the English fans and media are oblivious to most of this, the social media and Italian press have been consistently critical of their ‘love’ that is the Scuderia racing team. Such that yesterday, the team invited 2 fans to Maranello to air their gripes.
Riccardo Verdelli, a designer from Arezzo and Gian Maria Lamberti, head of web marketing for a company in Mantua, have been highly critical of Ferrari in recent months. Ferrari state that together with the Italian daily sports paper, Gazzetta dello Sport, a meeting was brokered in order to demonstrate the importance to Ferrari of their fans and that that their voices are indeed heard.
Gian Maria began interestingly by insisting, “I don’t like it when after a Grand Prix, there are incorrect jibes aimed at Red Bull that then fall apart. And then there’s Alonso complaining about his car after every race. I’d like to see him get his ears pulled about that, but instead you almost seem to share his sentiment.
On top of that, it’s not nice that in Austin last year, you sabotaged Massa’s gearbox to favour Alonso. Ferrari is a legend and certain slippery styles should be left to the others. There should be more sportsmanship”.
Stefano’s defends his sporting integrity, “You are in front of the most sportsmanlike person in the world. In all the races, whether you see it or not, I congratulate our rivals. In Austin, we did not sabotage the gearbox, but simply made the most of an article in the regulations which allowed us to break the seals.
The interests of Ferrari come above all else: if we had lost the Championship by the number of points we’d have lost there, the evaluation of what we did would have been different. Unlike the others, we speak openly about what we are doing. The little digs at Red Bull? It’s a way of relieving the tension and making light of it, as is clear from the tone of it”.
The Scuderia principle makes a point of suggesting Fernando will ‘get what for’ if it is deemed necessary. “Alonso? If I have something to say to him, as would be the case with my engineers, I would do it behind closed doors and in a harsh manner. But externally, I will always defend the team. When he crossed the line, president Montezemolo intervened and in private, so did I.”
It was then the turn of Verdelli who wanted to know, “Why have you kept Massa up until now? After the accident in 2009, for me he was no longer the same and I’m happy Raikkonen is coming back.”
Domenicali explains, “There are two reasons. From a medical point of view, there is no proof that the accident left any permanent damage, such as problems with his sight or reflexes. And then there’s the gentility which would demand that we give a driver who hasn’t had much luck, the chance to show he deserves to stay with us.
If Felipe was unable to deliver the performance we hoped for, it was mainly down to a hyper-sensitivity to a car that was too nervous at the rear, but in 2008, he almost took the title and I consider him as a world champion. We took Raikkonen because we wanted more. When we replaced him with Alonso, he was not happy and so he returns with a great desire to do well.”
However, Verdelli persists by questioning Ferrari’s selection and development policy over their drivers, “Is Ferrari considering Italian drivers? Can you see someone suitable for F1 on the horizon?”
The response from Dominicali appears to kick the issue into the long grass. “We feel this responsibility, so we created the Academy for youngsters. With Antonio Fuoco and Raffaele Marciello, in whom we are investing, this year we have won two championships. Will they drive a Ferrari one day? I hope so. But we need to find the right categories to get there. Furthermore, it will be important to work with CSAI to produce a path for growth at an affordable price. We have started by creating F4 as the first step after karts.”
Ferrari’s technical capabilities are then the focal point as Lamberti wants to know, “What has Red Bull got that you haven’t? I’ve heard talk of strange mappings…”, to which he is told, “Everyone is trying to work that out. But it’s pointless make accusations if there is no proof. The FIA can check the control unit, and if they find nothing than Red Bull is obviously doing a good job.”
The subject returns to Alonso as Verdelli questions the team’s reasons for persisting with their lead driver. “After four years without winning the championship are you still sure about your choice of taking on Alonso?”
Clearly at this time the team do not wish to kick Alonso in public again as Domenicali credits Fernando almost entirely for the limited success of the team during this time. “If in the past four years we have come close to the title twice, it is partly down to him. Unfortunately, we have not been capable of giving him a car that matches his talent. You compare him to Vettel, but when you have a better car, everything is more straightforward.”
Finally there is a matter of history to be verified as the Ferrari boss is asked, “Was there really the intention to take on Kubica and will he be back in F1?”. He candidly replies, “Yes, we were keeping an eye on him. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will be back, because with his physical problem, he would struggle in certain limited situations which require reactivity. It’s a shame.”
Rosberg to marry. Nice!
Nico Rosberg is to marry his long-term girlfriend Vivian Sibold an Italian designer. “Yes, it’s true, we’re getting married,” Rosberg informed German media. “It all feels very, very nice. When and where it happens is still in the stars.”
Nico is a very nice guy, but I wish someone would broaden his education on the use of English adjectives beyond his favourite ‘nice’.
Ice cream is nice…Nico. Getting married should be something other than ‘nice’.
Sights at the Indian GP
from BBC presdenter SuziPerry
from Toro Rosso’s JEV
The Indian GP has been dropped from the 2014 calendar. The organisers were asked to promote a race early in the season and felt it was too soon after the 2013 event to host another from a logistical point of view. Further, during the period of uncertainty prior to next year’s draft calendar release, the organisers Jaypee Sports were suggesting that an Indian race in March-April would never be practical because the weather would be a major concern.
The legal position of the contract between FOM and the Indian GP organisers is unclear, and Indian motorsports enthusiasts are worried that the race will not in fact return to the F1 schedule in 2015 or indeed ever again.
However, the noises coming out on behalf of the organisers has changed somewhat. Speaking to the Indian Express, Narain Karthikeyan argues, “Every race has its own charm, irrespective of when and where it is held. They all have positives and negatives. Shifting the Indian Grand Prix to the first half of the season – in March or April – will bring in the factor of unpredictability. The season would have just begun and not settled down and the competition will be wide open. This would, in turn, attract more audience.”
The inaugural race attracted some 95,000 race goers and this was significantly down last year – around the 65,000 mark. A mere 20,000 tickets had been sold with less than 14 days to go for the coming race weekend and the promoters are concerned the total in attendance will fall again.
Karthikeyan believes the current back end of the season scheduling of his nation’s F1 event is in fact detrimental to audiences. “One of the main drawbacks when the race is held in the fag end of the season is the champion being decided before the final. Leaving it to the last can affect spectator turnout as once the winner is already known, many people might lose interest. So, in a way, the Indian GP being held early on might result in an increase in viewership.”
All this optimism is fabulous, however the fact is that the 1 billion strong population of India is cricket mad, and the world’s richest cricket tournament – The Indian Premier League – will be in full flow at the time of any rescheduled Indian GP.
Yet Karthikeyan is optimistic. “The BIC is a driver’s track. It has a great mix of fast and slow corners. It is also a spectator-friendly track – one of the few circuits where you can sit in any spot and see a huge chunk of the track. If you are watching the race in Silverstone, you can hardly see the car for 2-3 seconds. The Jaypee Group made a conscious effort to build the track in such a way that the audience gets the value for money”.
The problem this year may be the utter dominance of Red Bull since the summer break, and Vettel in particular, may be a turn off for casual fans. Many believe the racing of any interest this weekend will be merely for the minor places – chalking the win up to Sebastian before his air filter has had chance to embibe the Indian atmosphere.
Yet Narain’s optimism is refreshing – though some would argue it is in fact ‘blind’ – but we are reminded that ‘always looking on the bright side of life’, means wherever we find ourselves it may not be such a bad place to be.
McLaren partner events in India
Starsports.com has entered into a partnership with McLaren for the upcoming Indian GP. As a part of this, the McLaren cars of 2009 World Champion Jenson Button and Sergio Perez will carry starsports.com logos on their rear wings, the first time an Indian digital brand will be a part of F1 livery.
ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd. chief operating officer Vijay Rajput said. “We are delighted to work closely with McLaren. We believe this partnership will help in promoting starsports.com as the definitive destination for sports on digital. We will present an unrivalled live video experience as well as a place for replays and catch-up.”
Further, the teams Mexican driver, Sergio Perez, today launched the Gillette’s next generation, superior technology razors — Fusion Power Phantom razor and a special limited edition Mach 3 razor in red colour — at an event in India today.
The event also marked the presence of Bollywood divas Neha Dhupia and Aditi Rao Hydari at a city hotel.
The press release states that, “The partnership reinforces both brands’ shared passion for superior engineering, innovation and technology in their respective fields”.
A well scripted Perez stated, Being a Formula 1 driver is about precision and control. Combined with the great technology of the car it gives me a winning edge. This is exactly the reason why I have been using Gillette for the longest time.”
Gillette’s shaving technology is engineered for the same precision and control, and I know I can count on it for a smooth, comfortable shave – as much as my car and driving, and as fast, every time,” he added.
Apparently, Gillette Fusion Power Phantom shaving system combines revolutionary blade technologies to offer the ‘best powered wet shave ever’.
Shaves Shades of more to come??? 😉
FIA rejects Wards complaint
David Ward had complained to the FIA ethics committee about Jean Todt using his position as incumbent President to lobby for support in the up coming elections.
The FIA Ethics Committee has dismissed Ward’s complaint. They say, “nothing in what the Committee saw or heard gives any hint that any ethical regulation of the FIA has been breached by Mr Todt or any of the parties implicated”. They argue that the signed letters of support Jean Todt had solicited over the past year, to which Ward referred, were irrelevant as the election is held by secret ballot.
Ward countered, “I do not agree that I failed to produce any evidence in support of my complaint. I submitted witness statements which showed clearly that there was concern about the support agreements. That I was requested to submit them only under conditions of strict confidentiality also reveals the difficulty that some club representatives have in expressing their opinions on this issue openly.”
Suspicions linger over the independence of the FIA’s review as Ward says, “the committee did not respond to my protest about its composition which included a member from a club that was directly involved in the support agreement issue and clearly supportive of Mr Todt”.
The problem is that the FIA has, “failed to understand the connection between support agreements ratified by an FIA region on bloc and the huge difficulty this creates for any candidate trying to obtain Vice Presidents for their list”, Ward comments.
My purpose in standing has been to highlight the current flaws in the governance of the FIA. I think the current confusion over the election rules which require a change even after the contest has started proves my point. It is also regrettable that the Ethics Committee has, in my opinion, failed to address important issues about the fairness and transparency of the election process.”
Prior to the hearing, David Ward had branded the rules ‘farcical’ and said they had produced an ‘absurd situation in which just one club in North America may determine whether or not there can be a challenger to Jean Todt’.
The FIA report concluded with criticism of Ward’s decision to report the actions of Jean Todt to them, claiming that he, as a 20-year FIA veteran who ‘knows the legal framework very well’ should also have known that it was inappropriate to challenge the regulations in such a way.
Race Suits – Did you know….?
No wonder Webber appeared sanguine, loitering around his burning RB9 in Korea