Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 11th November 2013

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TJ13 goes to Austin (06:30)

So long Felipe (06:30) Updated

Racism still a “big deal” in F1 (06:30)

Ferrari 2014 (06:30)

2014 Silly Season (09:23)

Why has Kimi left now? (10:27)

One Russian now has his F1 super license (10:38)

Coughlin leaves F1 (10:55)

GP2 defunct? (11:48)

FIA to get $120m stake in F1 (12:11)

Quantum, Maldonado, Hulkenberg and Massa (12:15) UPDATE (14:40)

F1 TV Audiences to shrink dramatically?

Fernando breaks his silence

Perez out of McLaren

Alonso’s Medical Exam


TJ13 goes to Austin

TJ13 contributor Adam Macdonald, will be attending the Austin GP in 6 days time. The idea of this website had been to build a Formula One fans community where people are able to share their opinions and interact with each other. Therefore, it brings us great excitement to announce the first race meet of the site at the Circuit of the Americas.

Details of the meeting are still to be decided, but if you are going to be attending the race, please comment below so we can contact you with the details closer to the race. Alternatively, keep reading the daily news for details later in the week.

We hope you enjoy the race and look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there.

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So long Felipe

The Ferrari politics took a rest yesterday as they took the chance to thank their departing driver Felipe Massa by dedicating its season-ending World Finals to the Brazilian. A 15,000 strong crowd turned up to watch the event at Mugello which included F1 demonstrations.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo called the 2008 WDC runner-up “a true Ferrari man.”

In true ‘Italian Family’ style, Il Padrino had inspiring words and memories to bring as a memorial to their – as yet alive, but soon to be departing – loved one. Even the picture Ferrari.com post is Hollywood-esque and Robert de Niro would be proud of the evocative cinematographic atmosphere of the whole occasion.

“Felipe has been a true Ferrari man and he will always be part of our history, for all the Grands Prix he drove for us, for the wins, the pole positions and for those few seconds when he was world champion that day in Brazil, before that overtaking move that always seemed a bit strange to me,” said Montezemolo. “We spent some great times together, while some others were more difficult, such as the accident in Budapest.

These have been very busy years and today, I wanted to thank him publicly, having already done so privately, just the two of us. I think the decision to go our separate ways is the right one, both for us and for him. It’s time for a change and also to find new motivation. I wish Felipe every success, starting with the last two races of this championship.

As for the rest of his Formula 1 career, I wish him the very best, but naturally, behind a Ferrari and anyway, I am sure we will get many chances to meet up again, because life is long and he will always be part of our family. When one has a mutually agreed separation, in the best interests of both parties, it can be done calmly in a friendly and constructive manner, and that has been the case this time.”

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Racism still a “big deal” in F1

The Hindustan Times reported Lewis Hilton’s views on F1 over the weekend, in which they decided to focus on his ethnic background. Many will remember Hamilton being subjected to racial abuse in Barcelona in 2008. The question is posed to the Briton, ‘How does he respond to detractors who say being the first non-white world champion is no big deal?’

Hamilton replied, “I am a little bit surprised when they say race has nothing to do with the sport. Formula One is a white-dominated sport. You haven’t seen any black athletes till now, have you? I mean there have been a couple of Indians who have come and broken that barrier, and now in every sport throughout the world, that’s how it has been.”

Hamilton goes on to say he feels Tiger Woods has been influential in changing the opinions of non-white golfers. He continued to say, “My dad used to go and meet potential sponsors when I was younger and ask whether they would like to back a non-white driver and they used to laugh at him. Now that attitude has changed.”

As TJ13 reported, having a home grown driver seems to be important for boosting the popularity of a Grand Prix’s ticket sales. With 2 Indian drivers having come and gone from F1 in recent times, after struggling to find backing from international sponsors, does Lewis have a point?

An interesting quote from Lewis from the interview is below…

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Ferrari 2014

Ferrari 2014

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2014 Silly Season

The silly season is the period lasting for a few summer months typified by the emergence of frivolous news stories in the media. The term was coined in an 1861 Saturday Review article and was listed in the second edition of Brewer’s Dictoipnary of Phrase and Fable (1894) and remains in use at the start of the 21st century.

The fifteenth edition of Brewer’s expands on the second, defining the silly season as “the part of the year when Parliament and the Law Courts are not sitting (about August and September)”.

In the United States the period is referred to prosaically as the slow news season or the time of year when Domestic Suicide and Violent Crime are on the rise in the winter months.

In Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, the silly season has come to refer to the Christmas/New Year festive period (which occurs during the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere on account of the higher than usual number of social engagements where the consumption of alcohol is typical. (Wiki)

So when the ex-F1 drivers – the media pundits recruited by the broadcasting stations – talk about a ‘silly season’ they don’t really understand what it is. Having little or no journalistic training – other than to read and write at school – they appear to suggest the silly season is here whenever there is a story doing the rounds that they don’t believe or have missed out on.

Seriously folks, Kimi returning to Ferrari – what would you have said back in March to such a notion – ridiculous? Yes and you’d be in the majority.

Anyway, sticking with the F1 notion of silly season, F1Enigma has produced a rather graphical representation of this and here it is… feel free toad your own.

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Why has Kimi left now?

TJ13 reported on Sept 14th 2013 that Kimi may opt to miss some of the remainder of the season and undergo back surgery. Lack of payments from Lotus were mentioned back then too as a possible incentive for Kimi to duck out of the 2013 season early and get the surgery required.

So is Raikkonen’s announcement a real surprise?

The team seem to have been caught unaware by it. On Friday, following the threats and bust up’s in Abu Dhabi we had Boullier telling us Kimi, “is completely on-side.” Raikkonen was also quoted as saying he was “particularly looking forward” to the Austin race weekend and further that he had opted to use the short wheel; base E21.

La Gazzetta reported Raikkonen was in Maranello last Thursday for a seat fitting which revealed he was almost identical in size and weight to Alonso. Did Ferrari persuade him to ‘take an early bath’ to ensure he was fit for Jan 28th 2014, Jerez 1st test – day 1?

Previous statements from Raikkonen’s management had suggested the surgery was minor and that a 4 week recovery period was ample.

However, there may have been a sudden deterioration in Kimi’s back since his first corner exit in the Abu Dhabi race if Steve Roberston is to be believed. Speaking to Turun Sanomat he states, “In an ideal world it would have been nice to finish the season with Lotus. However, due to the severe pain that Kimi is having, sadly it is not possible.”

So there is a chicken and egg scenario here. Of course Kimi was predisposed to back issues prior to the Indian GP bust up and his defiance in Abu Dhabi, yet for several weeks the plan was to see the season out and then have the medical attention required.

The ever helpful Mika Salo weighs in again on behalf of his countryman telling Finnish broadcaster MT3, “It has been a problem for Kimi for a long time, He was going to have it done in the winter anyway, so when thinking about all that has happened with Lotus – the wages, the deteriorating atmosphere – then I think this is the right decision,”

Very candid Mika, yet it may be unhelpful in any legal case Kimi brings against Lotus or vice versa. The difference between coming 2nd in the manufacturer’s championship and 4th will be worth 10’s of millions to the team.

If Lotus/Genii can prove they were not in substantive breach of any contractual matters with Kimi – say based upon the previous year’s arrangements – Raikkonen could be ordered to share in this loss in some way due to his contributory actions.

At best the speculation around Kimi’s real intent for this early sabbatical does not help his cause and as TJ13 suggested last week, it may prove in the long term better had Kimi said nothing in Abu Dhabi – rising above the fray.

So the man of few words gets the last word in this spat for now with his ex-team and it may cost Lotus dear in terms of prize money. However, is that the Kimi the F1 fans want to see and believe in? Only time will tell.

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Certain Social Media sites suggesting Kimi’s back claims may be countered by pictures such as this

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One Russian now has his F1 super license

TJ13 reported rumours from Switzerland suggesting the Sergey Sirotkin backed Russian investment deal has collapsed. Early signs are if this is the case, it is Sauber who have precipitated this action.

Yet there will be at least one Russina driver on the grid for the inaugural Russian GP next year as Toro Rosso arranged a test in Misano Italy last week for Daniil Kvyat. He completed the required 300km of running in front of an FIA observer at a representative pace and has been granted his F1 driver’s superlicanese.

Kvyat tweeted over the weekend to his 8,700 twitter followers, “We’re going to America! I will spend the weekend with the team and participate in the first free practice.”

Daniil will sit in for JEV during FP1 in Austin and for Ricciardo in the same session in Brazil

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Coughlin leaves F1

F1 Forensics delved into the possible secrets of the RB9 this weekend, which threw up memories of ‘spygate’ in 2007. Mike Coughlin, then the McLaren chief designer, is believed by some to have been made the scapegoat for the McLaren side of the story – as it was suggested he possessed such a document because he had/was being been tapped up by at least 2 other teams – and this source of information was power to his elbow.

Coughlin was banned from F1 and emerged as an employee of Michael Waltrip Racing in Nascar. He returned to Williams F1 in 2012 as technical director but failed to take the team forward from their single Barcelona victory that year. He was recently replaced at Williams by another ‘F1 banned’ operative – Pat Symonds.

NASCAR’s series website is now reporting Coughlin will return to their sport in 2014 as, technical director for Richard Childress Racing team. Their lead driver is currently 3rd in the Sprint Cup drivers’ championship with points totalling 2350 – just 34 behind the leader – though to most Europeans the meaning of this is incomprehensible.

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GP2 defunct?

I visited the Bedfordshire Aerodrome this year and wandered around the vast hanger where the F2 cars from the recently defunct series are stored and it all seemed a waste and a shame. The F2 series trucks are all lined up in the car park with nowhere to go as though waiting for someone to ‘un mothball’ what was an important single seater racing series for junior racers.

The site is one of the successful Jonathan Palmer track day venues, and so the hanger is home to operational Ariel Atoms, Caterhams, BMW M3’s and various other single seater experience day cars to drive.

You can arrange a day’s driving in one of the F2 cars as a bespoke package with Jonathan Palmer racing, though how much this costs, I cannot say. One of the guys who had been employed by the series informed me the cost of racing an F2 car for a year had been around 300,000 euros.

MSV who operated the series had dramatically reduced the costs of single seater racing when compared with other series, without sacrificing much in terms of quality. Engineering standards were superb and the F2 car was designed by the Williams F1 team and proved excellent from the outset.

Not bad I thought.

Not bad indeed when you compare the cost of other series. Herr Marko was recently dismissive of the Ecclestone owned F1 support series stating, “It (GP2) is far too expensive. It costs EUR 5 million per driver, while in GP3 it is 600,000.”

F3 costs about 800,000 euro p.a. and Formula Renault 3.5 is somewhere in the region of 900,000 euros.

Track time at each weekend event made F2 attractive too. GP3 averages a mere 2hrs, GP2 is a little longer at 2.75hrs whereas F2 was pushing 4 hours – beaten only by Formula Renault 3.5 which tops the lot with giving each driver a maximum of 5 hours per weekend event.

GP2 beats all the other single seater series when considering lap times, but is that the key to being prepared for F1?

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Martin Whitmarsh has recently gone public stating the Formula Renault 3.5 series is a “much higher quality championship than GP2”, though McLaren-backed juniors Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne of course have dominated the 2013 season.

Behind them though was Red Bull’s Antonio Felix da Costa, and this may be the key as to why Marko plucked Russian Daniil Kvyat straight out of GP3 to move into F1 with Toro Rosso for next season.

So what is the problem with GP2? Some argue there is no problem with the series. We have currently in F1 the following champions of a GP2 series, Nico Rosberg ’05, Lewis Hamilton ’06, Nico Hulkenberg ’09, Pastor Maldonado ’10 and Romain Grosjean ‘011.

4 Good F1 drivers in 8 years (05-12), and  now we have Davide Valsecchi (2012 GP2 champion) who hasn’t had a sniff of F1 this year and it is commonly accepted that 2013 GP2 series winner Fabio Leimer isn’t close to getting an F1 drive.

And this costs 5m euros a year?

There are no plans to revive F2 for 2014 unfortunately, however questions have to be asked over whether GP2 is an appropriate feeder for F1, and whether a young driver would be better served spending a mere 20% of the cash and driving in Formula Renault 3.5.

GP2 will continue to exist and be self-sustaining due to the air time it receives on certain F1 weekends. Sponsors are coughing up and there are plenty of drivers on the grid. Yet this no longer is guaranteeing to be the series with the best drivers outside F1, or that the winner of the series deserves an F1 drive.

Then of course for you consipiricists out there, is GP2 Bernie’s go to challenger for F1 should he be evicted by CVC from his role as chief executive?

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Charts from MSV

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FIA to get $120m stake in F1

Today sees Ecclestone in court in London for his final day of evidence – for now – yet over the weekend he reveals to the Guardian that he has offered the FIA a one off payout if F1 is floated. “The FIA gets 1% if F1 floats but the teams don’t have shares.”

The background to this is simple, the FIA have been holding out on signing the new Concorde agreement which sees the teams, the commercial rights owners and the FIA locked together in F1 until 2020. CVC have valued the float at $12bn though it has been plagued with legal hurdles and questions over whether the commercial rights were obtained legally.

Desperate for funds, the FIA have increased the entry fees paid by each F1 team from $326,000 to $500,000, plus $5,000 per point or $6,000 for the championship-winning team. Red Bull Racing, which won the F1 title in 2012, had to pay $3.3m for it’s 2013 entry, a tenfold increase on its fee for 2012. In addition, the cost of F1 drivers’ licences has also accelerated from a base fee of $1,830 plus $230 per point in 2012 to $10,000 plus $1,000 per point.

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Quantum, Maldonado, Hulkenberg and Massa

Another week has passed since the world published the headlines, “Quantum deal done”. TJ13 was more circumspect, as it was Mansoor Ijaz making this declaration, and the sub text included the caveat – “from our perspective”

Since then Kimi has bailed out, and Enstone and Genii are floundering over who to promote to their car for the last 2 races. One obvious choice were the Quantum deal close to being done would be to invite Hulkenberg to jump ship – he is not being paid by Sauber and free of contractual arrangements with them.

Yet Hulkenberg’s manager was contacted by Bild over the weekend and asked whether his driver would be switching cars for Austin and Interlagos. “Not likely,” was Werner Heinz response. “No one has talked with us about that.”

Bild is also reporting that the deal between Williams and Felipe Massa is done for 2014, and that Brazilian oil company Petrobas is bringing sponsorship to the party.

If this is the case, then Maldonado is out and his only hope of a F1 drive next year lies realistically with Lotus. This kind of decision would suggest the Quantum deal is not going to happen and Maldonado has been recruited to Enstone for funding reasons.

This being the case, then Davide Valsecchi in prime position to race Kimi’s car for the last 2 races of 2013. However he too has been utterly surprised by the news this weekend. Italian publication Autosprint called him yesterday and asked if he was to replace the now medically unfit Kimi. He replied, “I don’t know anything, I haven’t heard anything from the team and I was not at the factory last week. Not even the people I talk to regularly at Enstone said anything,”

With less than 4 days to go before FP1 – Lotus have yet to decide who will partner Romain Grosjean in Austin.

F1 once again could run the promotional logo – ‘surprise to the very last minute’.

UPDATE: (14:40 GMT) Williams have confirmed Felipe Massa will partner Bottas for 2014

“The Williams F1 Team is delighted to announce that Felipe Massa will join the team to drive alongside Valtteri Bottas for the 2014 FIA Formula One World Championship season. The new line-up reflects Williams’ determination to bring success back to the team.

Having competed in 12 FIA Formula One World Championship seasons, Felipe is an experienced talent and proven race winner, with 11 race wins and 36 podiums to his credit during a hugely successful career. He has frequently challenged for the Drivers’ Championship, missing out by the narrowest of margins in 2008 and has also contributed to Ferrari’s Constructors’ Championships in both 2007 and 2008.

After joining Williams as the team’s Test Driver in 2010, Valtteri was promoted to a race seat in 2013 and has matured into an accomplished Formula One driver, impressing the team not least with his handling of the difficult conditions in Canada to put his Williams-Renault FW35 third on the grid.

The Williams F1 Team would like to take this opportunity to thank Pastor Maldonado for his efforts and contribution over the past three seasons, in particular delivering the team’s Spanish Grand Prix victory last year. We wish him well for the future”.

Pastor Maldonado issued a strange tweet in Spanish only last night following the Bild revelations which merely said, “There are many irresponsible rumors out there about my future as usual! I look forward to sharing with you news 2014”.

It appears the Venezuelan may have been caught out by this move from Williams. and the latest word has him driving for Sauber in 2014 and not Lotus.

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F1 TV Audiences to shrink dramatically?

Bernie Ecclestone has always believed in the principle of exclusivity as a good one for driving up the price of anything. Today, Joe Saward takes this argument to the extreme. He suggests if the F1 TV audience is restricted to a mere one fifth of what it is today (300m) then FOM/CVC could drive the annual TV rights from the current $600m to $6bn.

This is based upon the TV subscription fees paid in the USA to watch NASCAR. Across 2 TV networks, the US racing series has negotiated the next 8 years TV contracts to produce fees of $700m a year and the average number of viewers per race is just 4.8m.

So at this kind of rack rate, F1 needs just 60m TV viewers, coughing up a flat fee of £5 a race for 20 races a year and we get this $6bn bounty.

If we turn to the subscription TV companies, Saward appears to believe they are raking it in too. A quick calculation from Joe suggests SKY has some 475,000 F1 viewers paying $810 per annum for SKY F1 – thus SKY is deriving revenue of some $385m per annum. What a great return huh?

SKY in fact do better than that for average viewership, but there is no way on God’s earth they receive anywhere near $810 per viewer counted. This calculation is completely fictitious when you consider SKY have been offering a range of discounted services, for example via the internet at $15 per F1 event and $30 bundles for a month that cover 3 race weekends.

If you already subscribe to SKY SPORTS the F1 channel is for many free, and the wholesale price of the channel to other networks generates a mere $90 per annum per viewer.

The SKY F1 channel ‘reach’ has a mere 175,000 people a week on average watching 1 hour of programming. No one really knows what SKY actually gain in revenue from F1 viewing, but it is likely the F1 channel does not even wipe its feet.

So why do SKY pay $70m ($560m over the 8 year contract) a year to FOM for the UK viewing rights?

FOM recognise in the age of 3D viewing and other TV recording/broadcasting innovations, they cannot afford the technology in the future to make this efficient for a mere 20 odd events per annum. This means the world feed will at some point be sub-contracted out to a broadcaster who already has invested in the required technologies.

Formula One Management have been notoriously sluggish over TV innovation, it was 2007 before they began broadcasting in widescreen format and then the switch to high definition took until 2011. They are light years behind where social media is concerned yet it could be they have a long term solution in mind.

SKY TV were at the final test in Barcelona this year, demonstrating their 3D recording and broadcasting capabilities to FOM and hidden away in the floatation documentation for the Singapore Stock Exchange was this on page 144 of 498.

“We are in the initial stages of developing our digital media assets. The right to stream races online is typically licensed out to our broadcast partners around the world but we may consider changing our model and exploiting them independently in the future. As the exclusive rights holder to the World Championship, we have the benefit of controlling both our online platform and content which gives us a wide range of opportunities to monetise our rights, including through internal and third party solutions. We will continue to enhance the digital experience over time for our fans by exploring new opportunities including allowing access to premium digital content as well as adding additional language options to our website”.

The entire offering from FOM will change over the coming years and if FOM intends to control the online offerings, it will need to offer more than just live streaming services.

For example, the BBC have online rights in the UK and you can watch the events (they are allocated) live online with BBC iPlayer. This gives the viewer the ability to rewind, pause and fast forward if watching on a delay.

Further, the BBC iPlayer can be watched for up to 7 days following the event. If FOM are to offer online services they will need to be innovating in these kinds of ways.

Is it likely UK viewers will see the SKY/BBC shared broadcasting arrangements continue to the end of the contract they have to 2018? TJ13 thinks probably not.

Though how it will be unravelled by FOM is anyone’s guess. Yet SKY are investing in the F1 relationship as they position themselves to be the broadcaster which records/broadcasts the world feed live and manages all online content for FOM.

Saward argues the USA is the key to his $6bn a year F1 revenue model. In fact it these kinds of revenues are far more likely to be driven by a global FOM online offering. £5 a race, 20 races, $60m global paying viewers – even then – this is a tough ask.

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Fernando breaks his silence

You could argue Lewis was an early adopter of twitter, but the F1 driver who has made the domain his own over the past 12 months is Fernando Alonso. Following his tweeting Spa 2012 where confidential telemetry data was tweeted, Lewis use of the twittershpere now revolves mostly around pictures of dogs, pretty F1 sunsets and reflections and coded religious messages.

Fernando behind the scenes has been doing battle with his own team as well as Vettel in public. His tweeting is practically daily and has become an extension of the Spaniards personality these days. To go for a 8 days with just 4 tweets is most strange.

Ferrari have kept the lid on what exactly Fernando’s medical condition is – though through a variety of channels we have learned nothing is broken, just some bruising and Alonso is taking anti-inflammatory medication.

Today, the Spanish Samuri speaks once more. He reveals he is in fact, “packing the bag for Austin, with some pain still, but eager and confident to help the Team. I will try to give 100% as always!”. Fred then adds, “The value of something depends on the way you deal with it mentally and not with the thing itself. #Samurai

It’s almost a relief to hear from Alonso. Twitter followers were developing a genuine concern there may be a bigger crisis afoot. Alonso needs an all clear on Tuesday from the FIA doc – though if Ferrari demand a verdict of ‘fit to drive’ it is unlikely any other would be given.

With Kimi out of contention for 2nd in the drivers’ championship, Alonso finds himself 42 points ahead of 3rd placed man Lewis Hamilton – who with Vettel rampaging towards his 12th win of the season, has little chance of overhauling Fernando.

Yet Ferrari are in a tight spot – and it may be one even Alonso can’t bail them from. 11 points behind Mercedes and 26 ahead of Lotus. Many believe 2nd place is already lost, yet whether Grosjean can get a couple of podiums to deliver 30 points and his unnamed co-driver force Ferrari to score 15 more than they have at present in 2 races is debatable.

If both teams continue to score at the rate they have since Singapore, then Lotus would come up 4 points short of beating Ferrari into 3rd place.

However, if Lotus can deliver a 45+ point haul in Austin and Interlagos, Alonso and Massa may have their work cut out to hold them at bay and we would see Ferrari lower than 3rd place in the constructors championship for only the 2nd time in 20 years.

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Perez out of McLaren?

Martin Whitmarsh has today been giving a telephone conference brief to various media representatives. Whitmarsh was asked if Kevin Magnussen was seriously in the frame, he replied “Lots of people are being considered, when we come to the end of those considerations, we’ll make an announcement.”

Martin was specifically asked whether Sergio Perez was driving for his McLaren career over the next two races.

“I think Sergio is a very talented racing driver, I think it’s been a difficult year for him, partly as I said at the outset because we haven’t given him a good enough car. I think he’s a determined driver, he’ll be driving very hard in Texas I know, it’s the closest he’s going to get to home crowd this year, and he’ll want to do a good job in front of those people. We’ll be do everything with him to see if he can get a good result.”

Mmm. Would TJ13 readers sack a driver just before a race you describe as “the closest he’s going to get to home crowd this year”?

Whitmarsh added, “I think firstly we have not provided either of our drivers with a good enough race car this year. So in those circumstances Sergio’s been a great team member. He’s made a spirited contribution, he’s produced some really good races, some exciting races, and ruffled a few feathers. And I think he’s done a pretty good job throughout the whole year. Abu Dhabi was difficult, it was not quite the result that he wanted or we wanted, but it was a difficult weekend, and those happen.

I think that he’s done a good job. We’re still talking to him, certainly. There’s all sorts of things that I’ve read in the media. The fact is at the moment we haven’t confirmed our driver line-up, we haven’t signed contracts – plural – with drivers, so we’re still talking about that. There’s a lot of honest feedback, both ways, I think it’s best done in private and not in public.”

The writing has to be on the wall for Perez. Button is not known for his qualifying pace and yet he has out qualified his team mate 9-8 this year. Of course the car has been difficult, but Jenson has 60 points and Sergio just 35.

The consensus is that the cerebral kind of driver Jenson is, will be advantageous for 2014 when the rules change dramatically with new engines and driving styles required. Whitmarsh addressed this issue, yet ended up sounding silly.

“I think certainly in an era of change you need bright drivers. I think Sergio is a clever guy, and I think in that regard he’s a good driver for anyone next year, including ourselves”, adding quickly, “I think we’ve got two intelligent drivers now and I think we’ll have just that next year…”

TJ13 reported last week that Kevin Magnussen had been lined up for some time to take part in the GP2 testing for DAMS following the Abu Dhabi GP. He was pulled at such late notice, that the DAMS team could not replace Magnussen and so did not run a second car on the first day of the test.

The signs are fairly bad for Sergio with a number of F1 media writers running with the above title – without the question mark. So where else in F1 could Perez go for 2014?

Were Lotus to fail to ratify the Quantum deal, there could be a last minute battle between Perez and Maldonado for the size of the cash stash, but his manager will need to move swiftly.

A return to Sauber may be possible, though the Swiss F1 team’s finances and decision making re: drivers are in greater doubt than those of Enstone.

Force India could be a possibility, but the probability of no Perez and no Gutierrez driving in F1 is growing by the day – and all this in a year where there are plans for a return to Mexico for a Grand Prix event.

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Alonso’s Medical Exam

Editor’s note: One of TJ13’s readers submitted this to us and although Alonso has since tweeted that he will be traveling to Texas a lot of questions remain unanswered.

The Judge 13 reported on Saturday that Alonso’s medical exam will be conducted by the FIA. Why would the FIA be concerned about a sore back?

Alonso was subjected to an FIA exam after the Abu Dhabi GP due to the Medical Warning Light signalling that the car had exceeded “threshold forces”, as per Section 30.18 of the Sporting Regulations. In 2011, the FIA Institute published ‘Medicine in Motor Sport‘ as a textbook for medical personnel working at motor racing events.

The book covers most of the various scenarios that medical personnel would expect to see. One of the key instructions is to test and diagnose for concussion. A CT or MRI is one of steps of diagnosing a concussion, hence the weird hospital picture of Alonso that we saw last week.

The only injury in the book that requires medical clearance to return to competition is concussion. The FIA medical folks want to determine that Fernando’s concussion has healed before he races again. The reason is because, “A second, relatively mild blow to the head before full recovery has occurred can result in catastrophic brain swelling and often death (‘second impact syndrome’).

After an accident, even when a driver is apparently uninjured, the physician must carefully seek clues to the presence of (concussion).

The textbook provides symptoms of concussion, suggested questions to measure cognitive abilities. More importantly, “because of the potential difficulties in diagnosing and tracking recovery from (concussion), the FIA Formula One World Championship and IRL use a standardized, validated, computer-based test of neurocognitive function to assess concussion (ImPACT)…” The test takes ~30 minutes. All the racers are supposed to have performed a “base-line” ImPACT test prior to the season.

The criteria to return to competition are:

  • Neurological examination performed before competition is normal with no overt post-concussion symptoms.
  • ImPACT testing reveals no significant decrement from baseline.
  • CT or MRI scanning is negative.

Those would be the tests that Fernando are likely to be subjected to by the FIA on Tuesday. Fernando’s only tweet this weekend was Saturday morning’s “Have a great weekend everyone! After a difficult week, hopefully these days are better. ” This site reported on that same morning that he has had sleeplessness, headaches, and the FIA RTC (Return To Competition) exam on Tuesday.

It’s not apparent what the harm would be if this information was shared, but Ferrari has opted not to do so.

Will we see Alonso race in Texas or not?

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56 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 11th November 2013

  1. Love the Ferrari 2014 cartoon. I heard a rumour that this year’s Ferrari Christmas corporate gift hamper includes a couple of tubes of Deep Heat and some Tiger Balm!

  2. I always thought that that quote from Lewis was a little in bad taste – very selfish and egotistical, exactly the qualities needed to become a WDC. Either die on track, and traumatise millions of F1 fans live on tv, or die mid-coitus with the wife, an image I’m sure she wouldn’t have any trouble remembering. Nice! Unless, when he said ‘your wife’, he meant the wife of the guy asking the question!

  3. Hello everyone,

    Dont you find strange the absence of Fernando Alonso at the Annual Ferrari Finale Mondiali ?
    I thought this was an event where all the Ferrari drivers attend every year.
    What your thoughts on this

    • Maybe by not having him there, the focus could be squarely on Felipe (as Fernando is such a huge draw)? I am not going to read anything sinister into such a beautiful (if scripted?) moment:

    • Ferrari told Gazzetta dello Sport that Alonso was home in Spain recuperating over the weekend.

      In addition, this site reported on Saturday that he will have an FIA mandated medical exam tomorrow to be allowed to race at Austin. Along with Alonso’s reported symptoms (headaches, sleeplessness), the FIA RTC (Return to Competition) exam indicates he is recuperating from a concussion.

  4. Kevin Magnussen busy testing Pirelli 2014 tyres with McLaren at Vallelunga today and tomorrow …

  5. “If Lotus/Genii can prove they were not in substantive breach of any contractual matters with Kimi – say based upon the previous year’s arrangements” Apart from the reasonable assumption that Kimi would not have been demanding salaries that wouldn’t yet be due to him I would say that Boulliers claim that Kimi had been paid earlier this year would be a pretty robust counter argument to any claim of a substantive breach by him. As for why he’s left now ? pretty simple, an agreement that was made in Abu Dhabi which was subject to a deadline was also breached.
    A line was drawn, it was crossed, thats why now.

  6. “If Lotus/Genii can prove they were not in substantive breach of any contractual matters with Kimi – say based upon the previous year’s arrangements – Raikkonen could be ordered to share in this loss in some way due to his contributory actions.”

    I think Kimi’s management and his lawyers’ would have gone through the contract thoroughly to find the loop holes in the contract, and then decided not to race..The lawyers’ would have known if there were such contractual obligations’ and would have informed Kimi…

    • Agreed – and I don’t understand what… “the previous year’s arrangements” …have to do with anything. We are told Kimi had a different contract for 2013, and that ought to be that…
      It seems to me Lotus defaulted on 2012 payments and made these up in 2013… and are now trying to be the ‘good guys’ by saying they have made payments in 2013…
      As a freelance myself I have come across this underhand trick where the employer gets you for a second term by promising to pay an old invoice. At the end of such a situation, if you don’t sign on again you don’t get the last payment. I actually appeared as a defense-witness in the Old Bailey because of such behaviour.
      Kimi clearly doesn’t expect to receive his 2013 payments, even in 2014, and he is quite right to take action.
      The courts might see it differently but I think Lotus has been full of bull-shit for quite some time… and not just on this issue…!

    • “Raikkonen could be ordered to share in this loss ………” It would be pretty hard to prove Kimi would have scored points if he raced; how could anyone prove a hypothetical? I very much doubt Kimi will be liable for some imaginary lost profit.

    • Outside of the legal questions, TJ13 has raised again the issue of Kimi’s fans: “However, is that the Kimi the F1 fans want to see and believe in? Only time will tell.”

      When this issue was raised here on this site by the good Judge most recently, (Thursday, Nov. 7th), the issue of hurting his fan base was raised as problem to be avoided.

      I noticed over the weekend one of this season’s 3 phenomenal Euro F3 drivers, Felix Rosenqvuist (the others being Marciello and Kvyat) said the following on twitter, “Kimi is my idol and I respect him a lot, but thats a very big blow for the team.”

      “Lets be honest here, Kimi could have done those last two rounds? #nicemove #teamplayer”

      So point taken that this does hurt his fan base.

      But my question is does hurting his fan base really matter?

      F1 is a highly competitive sport. The performance levels are very high, the differences between outstanding versus merely very good are now fairly subtle, measured in tenths of a second.

      I think of Vettel’s success, and how some of his actions can arguably be construed to have hurt his fan base. He gave very low priority such considerations, and focused primarily on continual improvement. And he is successful.

      • With you. I think if nicemove and teamplayer were in the position of being a theoretically salaried driver, their outlooks would differ 180 degrees.

      • I think it is what you call “ruthlessness”. I don’t really care either way, I just want them to keep on acting like bafoons because it makes life interesting 🙂

  7. On a different note,if Lotus choose Hulk for last 2 races,and Hulk agreed to it,can’t Sauber also file a case against hulk for causing loss of millions of money in constructors’ by not racing for them,just as Lotus may try to do to Kimi???Has it been official that Hulk’s contract has been scrapped??If so,then on what basis is Hulk driving a Sauber,as they could do like Ltus and not pay his salary…..

    • As I understood it Sauber told him they couldn’t pay him (at least, not at the moment) and he could look elsewhere – or, presumably, drive for free.

      • That sounds pretty right. Buttocks would be held tightly clenched at Sauber now that season has progressed to critical divvy-up the spoils time.

  8. after Kimi’s visit for his seat fitting, he withdraws from the final two races, is he sticking two fingers up to Lotus? More likely Ferrari whispering into his ear ‘we are paying you Kimi, we donr want to finish behind Lotus’ Teams look after team players apparently (sometimes)

    • Speaking of 2 fingers : Kimi’s twitter page was “subtle” as of *last week* ie pmain header is Ferrari red, pic is “leave me alone…blah blah blah” and if you decide to follow him, his description reads “Ferrari driver for 2014”

      Insert 2 fingers here…that makes him almost even with the “horny” rabbits Lotus twitted when he left.

      Ah, kids…

  9. Regarding Austin, I’m hearing some not so quiet whispers about problems with tickets, and management in general. Apparently tickets were shipped late and unlike last year, many who ordered online did not receive the commemorative ticket. Also, they were apparently being charged for delivery services (Fed Ex) that were then not provided. There are also rumors the track had payment problems with the original vendor who produced the tickets. Both the track and the vendor have no comment at this point.

  10. Anyone else picking up the gathering “Perez Out” vibe ? Seeing quite a few talking about it.

    • Perez out, Magnussen in! The silly season this year is exceptional. Andae23 already needs to alter his diagram! It could be the most cashed 4 of Maldonado, Perez, Sutil and Petrov/Sirotkin, with di Resta and Gutierrez missing out, as Hulk is above them for the lone non-paying seat left (Lotus or FI).

      I like the part on the junior ladder, really shows how GP2 (used to be £1.5-2m per annum) will now be skipped over for FR 3.5 and GP3 in increasing numbers. GP3 moved to a 400bhp N/A engine this year to fill that F2 gap and be closer to GP2. Even RB and McLaren have their juniors in FR 3.5. That McLaren are even considering GP2 shows they really rate Vandoorne… Button better watch out!

  11. Re Alonso’s tweets
    “Alonso needs an all clear on Tuesday from the FIA doc – though if Ferrari demand a verdict of ‘fit to drive’ it is unlikely any other would be given.”

    I love that sentence as it appeals to the cynic in me!

    Regarding the FIA medical, the only reason the FIA would require an exam to clear a driver to race is for a concussion. An FIA medical is not required for a sore back, obviously.

    But to your point, the former F1 doc, Gary Hartstein, in a dialogue in the comments section of his blog, notes that when Sergio Perez had his concussion in his big crash at Monaco in 2011, the FIA cleared him to drive the next race, Canada. But Sergio knew right away in FP1 there that he was not well, and he stopped, and sought out Dr. Hartstein.

    Sergio was concerned that the FIA had given the all clear for concussion though he was still suffering the effects. Gary notes that the FIA RTC (Return To Competition) exam was inadequately administered. Dr. Hartstein was not involved in that exam, but he suggested the FIA should have involved a neurologist. He notes that FIA Chief Medical Officer at that time (and today?) was a French rheumatologist chosen by Jean Todt with no experience in motor sport trackside medical services.

    It will be interesting if the word concussion will ever be mentioned about Alonso by Ferrari or the FIA…

    • “It will be interesting if the word concussion will ever be mentioned about Alonso by Ferrari or the FIA…”

      Ferrari will pad out fer’s seat with something soft, its called a concussion repercussion cushion.

    • And… Ferrari announce Alonso will race in Austin after recuperating from his “compression injury to the back”. No mention of concussion…

      • Fernando himself spoke of back pain, nausea and dizziness.
        Ferrari announced that he will be present in Austin, no word that he will be behind the wheel.
        My guess is he will at least skip the free practice on Friday, if we hear all his symptoms, he might not be racing at all.

    • Alonso is safe in 2nd in the WDC, Ferrari safe in 3rd now with Kimi out and Lotus making a mistake most weekends; so there’s no point in risking Alonso if any further injury could occur. They have an abundance of reserve drivers as well who could step up, with Bianchi and Kobayashi surely at the front of the queue (don’t rule out De La Rosa, Fisichella..)

  12. Until now, I was doubtful that Perez was leaving McLaren. I speculated it was a negotiation ploy (McLaren wanting more of Mr. Slim’s sponsorship cash). Whitmarsh’s press conference seems to confirm that Perez is out.

    These days, in F1, as in other difficult businesses, it’s always wise to follow the money. Aren’t we due to see new sponsors for McLaren next season? Who will they be?

    A primary McLaren strength has been it’s business acumen to acquire strong sponsorship. Apparently they’ve acquired big sponsorship for next season as it has enabled them to openly brag about head-hunting for engineering talent, and cut loose Perez.

    • I wont rule out Slim just yet. Don’t forget he is a businessman… And if Perez is not doing what he should be doing he is out, just like in business.

    • I reckon it is GlaxoSmithKline. Their director was impressed by McLaren pitstops (guessing this year not last year!), and approached McLaren. McLaren F1 processes have already saved Glaxo a lot of money in making their own products, so it makes sense for them to now Title sponsor McLaren. This allows them freedom to support Magnussen and Vandoorne, at less cost than Button, Alonso or Perez etc. and concentrate on getting a top car once more, to be paired with a Honda engine in 2015. Telmex out, GlaxoSmithKline in?

  13. McLaren have announced that their sponsor announcement which was set for December 2nd is now likely to be delayed, Interesting.

    • This is one of the silliest silly seasons.

      It’s worth stopping to ask who is the most respected, highly rated driver on the market now?

      Or, to put another way, let us rate the available drivers:
      1) Hulkenberg – Fast, smart, most likely to win a WDC of all drivers available
      2) Button – Fast, smart, proven, career may have peaked…
      3) Maldonado – Fast, less error prone than prior seasons, proven race winner
      4) Grosjean – Very fast, much less error prone than previous seasons
      5) Perez – Flashes of brilliant speed, inconsistent, unproven
      6) Sutil – Fast, smart, performs well vs team-mate
      7) di Resta – Fast, inconsistant
      8) Gutierrez – Rookie, slow start, but good speed latter half of season
      9) van der Garde – A rookie in the Cosworth class, improved all season

      We can argue on the order, (of course), but we’ve seen high levels of agreement on Hulkenberg being the most valuable available talent (let’s leave budget out for now), on this market.

      Hulkenberg and Button are both likely to be chosen to sit in a top tier seat. Until today, I thought there were no top-tier seats available, so the top tier teams would be talking to Hulkenberg about the following season, 2015.

      However, today, Whitmarsh made very clear that he has two top-tier seats available.

      The other top-tier team interested in Hulkenberg is Ferrari. When Ferrari was interested in a young Massa, they did a deal with Sauber to run Massa till the seat at Ferrari was made available to Felipe.

      I’m guessing Hulkenberg is currently weighing Ferrari’s offer versus McLaren’s offer.

  14. Re-F1 audiences

    Coffee shop Joe has got it well wrong with what he is claiming, I mean, the guy don’t even live in th UK for God’s sake!

    I personally think the guy is a full in Dick! Everything that he used to report of any interest has now been moved to his subscription only online magazine and all he posts these days are re-hashed stories from else where.

    I pay £5 a month extra for sky HD and get F1 thrown in. I already get phone and broadband from sky and the tv package only cost me £18 a month to get plus 5er/month for HD.

    You should read the comments on his page, he been ripped to shreds over it. Quite funny really, unfortunately my thoughts are not in his comments section as I’m barred from posting LOL.

    • He does seem to have had a ‘position’ switch this season passed, particularly from mid term….bit hard to put a finger on…..
      Just FWIW – if you follow his column in Autocar, it’s online, he is often savaged there and can’t seem to do a damn thing about it, unlike his blog…

  15. Hmmm. I’m in a puzzle regarding Hamilton and racism. – I’m against racism; I have to wonder tho’ why it seems so important in his being to play up to the stereotype.

  16. See you guys in Austin. Looking forward to some good racing and possibly a new driver out to prove themselves.

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