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Sauber to be sued (09:50)
Ferrari self flagellation (11:19)
Kovalainen confirmed for Lotus UPDATE (17:30)
FIA press conference personnel unpublished UPDATE – Alonso fit to race
Senna’s pulling power (18:19)
Sauber to be sued
TJ13 reported in the past few days that the Sauber deal with Sirotkin’s backers appeared to have gone south and sources suggests that they will eventually be replaced with middle eastern money.
Today, the electricity company servicing the Canton of Zurich has issued a writ against the Hinwil based team. The amount recorded on the debtors register is for CHF 53’848 .70 – just over £36,000. Of course this is an insiginificant amount of money when considering the spend of an F1 team, yet this is but one of 57 debts listed with the Swiss authorities as outstanding, overdue and being pursued.
These debts are not listed whimsically, as the companies in question must demonstrate they’ve gone to fairly exhaustive efforts to reclaim the debt.
Clearly, the fact that Nico Hulkenberg has chosen to stay with Sauber instead of taking the cash on offer from Lotus would suggests it was certainly not Sauber who paid him his up to date salary. Unless Ferrari deny this story soon and Alonso does indeed race this weekend, then F1 fans may be in for an epic few weeks of F1 news ahead.
This Sauber tale has deja vu written all over it, yet as Ferrari have demonstrated there is a big brother out there – if not covering Sauber’s back – ensuring the Swiss team lives to fight another day. In the meantime a certain young Mexican driver with some Telecoms dollars behind him has just appeared again on the driver market – even more deja vu?
Sergio may be playing catchup because a certain Venezuelan has been trawling the market for a 2014 drive for some time now. Even though Williams announced their recruitment of Massa recently, the relationship between Maldonado and those in Grove has been broken for some time.
Swiss publication Blick report that Pastor “was at Hinwil” this week, though the team refuse to confirm or deny this.
Rosberg feels he is Hamilton’s equal
This time last year, there were many Michael Schumacher fans getting used the the idea that we would never see the statistically greatest F1 driver of all time behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car again. There were many who felt Michael’s second career had soiled his legacy, the rest of us simply watched to see how Rosberg would perform against one of the best drivers in F1 at present.
When revealing Lotus had contacted Michael with a view to him filling Kimi’s seat, Schumacher’s manager said yesterday, “Many people have changed their assessment about Michael because of Nico Rosberg’s recent performances compared to those of Lewis Hamilton. Michael drove as well as Nico, just as Nico is driving as well as Lewis,”
Whether this is rose tinted spectacles from Sabine or not, the Schumacher/Rosberg head to head record would appear to suggest that Nico had the better of Michael,
Faster qualifying time: Rosberg 41 / Schumacher 17
Poles: Rosberg 1 / Schumacher 0
Front rows: Rosberg 2 / Schumacher 1
Wins: Rosberg 1 / Schumacher 0
Podiums: Rosberg 5 / Schumacher 1
Points finishes: Rosberg 39 / Schumacher 31
DNFs: Rosberg 7 / Schumacher 15
Best race result (inc DNFs): Rosberg 35 / Schumacher 22
Ahead in two-car finish: Rosberg 22 / Schumacher 15
Overall points: Rosberg 324 / Schumacher 197
Seasons finished higher in standings: Rosberg 3 / Schumacher 0
Highest championship placing: Rosberg 7th (2010, 2011) / Schumacher 8th (2011)
We now have a good idea how good Nico Rosberg actually is having raced against Hamilton for nigh on a full season. Rosberg has 2 race victories this year in Monaco and Silverstone, whilst Hamilton has the solitary win from Hungary – though Hamilton leads Rosberg in the driver standings by 16 points.
Nico is bullish about his season as he tells Bild, “Quite often I’ve been ahead of him, but I’ve had more technical problems. Lewis’ season has gone quite smoothly, so I’m a bit behind him on the points”.Though Rosberg believes, “If we talk about pure speed, we are about equal. It’s great, because it’s for duels like this that I came into Formula One — I am constantly looking for ways to get ahead of my teammate”.
Of course Rosberg benefited from Hamilton’s misfortune at Silverstone which resulted in the images that define F1 for the first part of 2013. Yet, that is racing and the results are the results.
Lewis returns this weekend to the venue which saw him race Vettel hard and take a fantastic win in 2012, though the British champion has not been full of confidence in recent times. He was particularly down beat following Rosberg’s podium in Abu Dhabi and commented to the effect that he had work to do to ensure he was getting the best from the car.
Another good weekend for Rosberg in Austin may see him even closer to his world champion team mate with just one race to go – and it is not beyond the realms of possibility that he will overhaul Hamilton by the end of the season.
Ferrari self flagellation
We discussed this matter prior to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when Ferrari bizarrely posted a lengthy discourse on what might have been in Abu Dhabi back in 2010. Of course this was the race where both Alonso (246) and Webber (238) were ahead of Vettel (231) going into the final race of the season.
It is still remarkable today that Sebastian overhauled Alonso’s 15 point lead that day to take his first ever WDC. Even Hamilton was just about in contention 24 points behind Alonso, and we all know what happened and how that became the platform for a young and up coming German to begin re-writing the record books.
Well Ferrari have today – 14th November- decided to publish an “On this day in History” article. Once again the topic is Abu Dhabi 2010. This 1000 word plus reminiscence is as bizarre as it’s predecessor a couple of weeks ago mostly due to the detail given to the various parties – Stefano, Luca, Alonso – emotions and quotes from back then.
The emphasis of the piece is different. A couple of weeks ago, the feel to the article was a whimsical – “what might have been” – refection post Vettel’s title clinching drive in India. Yet today’s offering appears to have another agenda.
The opening paragraph sets the scene as above and then concludes by remarking, “this sporting drama that, still to this day, one way or another, reverberates in the Prancing Horse’s history. First and foremost because, there can be no doubt that if Alonso had taken the title that night, then opinions held within the company and outside it of many people working in the team would have been very different”.
The writer then digresses into analogies of a young soccer player being trained to take a penalty. “Nino, don’t be scared of taking a penalty, it’s nothing special for someone who considers himself a player. A player is judged for his courage”, The analogy is that on that day Ferrari/Alonso missed a penalty.
The author continues, “But whoever shot it over the bar – and that would be the whole team as everyone in it wins and more especially loses together – is still judged for that incident. An important, decisive and fundamental incident, but an incident that, as such, must be seen as relative when making judgement on a human being”.
Who is carping on about 2010 in Maranello? The Italian media have not been re-playing this story as part of their current criticism of the Scuderia. Why do Ferrari feel the need to engage in such public self flagellation over 2010 – AGAIN?
The articles finishes with extensive quotes from both Il Padrino and Stefano Domenicali. Luca’s lengthy and tearful comments particularly make reference to the fact that, “Fernando has had an extraordinary season, demonstrating his strength and determination, always being close to the team and making an exceptional contribution”.
Domenicali likewise is effusive in his praise for the team’s Spanish driver. “Fernando, who is an extraordinary driver and an extraordinary person. He demonstrated powers of leadership from both inside and outside the cockpit and we will do all we can to give him and Felipe an even better car next year”.
Whatever is going on behind the scenes in Maranello at present is clearly disturbing. The Scuderia are not presenting to the world as a team excited about the new opportunities of 2014 and their V6 Turbo engine offering. Neither is their any joy evident in one of the strongest looking driver line-up’s in history of 2 world champions.
We await news on Fernando’s well being this weekend, and as TJ13 has been suggesting for over a week – there may be more to this than meets the eye.
For now though, it appears the red team has been infiltrated by members of the Opus Dei organisation. Though the self-flagellation in which Ferrari continues to indulge has less to do with the “discipline” – a cattail whip – but a repeated reliving of the events of Abu Dhabi, 2010.
(For the full article click Ferrari.com)
Ward withdraws from FIA presidential election
This rather sad news is a stark reflection on how world Motorsport is governed – and done so disgracefully. We will now have an election where Jean Todt will stand unopposed.
David Ward has campaigned on a platform of reform and transparency and in recent months has exposed many of the cosy and unsavoury arrangements within the FIA governance.
In effect Ward has not withdrawn, he is not allowed to take part in the election due to rules governing candidates nomination – some of which have been altered during Todt’s tenure and make it even more difficult for the president to be opposed.
Of course not any Tom, Dick or Harry should be able run for office in the FIA, yet David Ward is hardly an outsider. He has a 20 year long history with the FIA and was in effect Jean Todt’s campaign manager last time around.
Ward has cited the impossibility of getting enough vice presidents together from each region – because Todt has already signed them up – as the reason for withdrawal. “The 2009 eligibility threshold was 23 but has now risen to 37 which is the highest ever in the history of the FIA.”
James Allen comments, “The real story is the decision by Middle East powerbroker Mohammed Bin Sulayem to side with Todt. If there was to be anyone who could challenge Todt this time around it was Bin Sulayem and Ward was seen by some as a stalking horse candidate for the Emirati. But once Bin Sulayem decided not to stand, a lot of the energy went out of Ward’s candidacy”.
Ward’s letter, published below in full, highlights the flaws in the election system which in effect prevented him from taking part. This is an indictment of the FIA and how it is run – and the stench of nepotism and crony-ism is as revolting as if this were a grand scale case of corruption.
I am writing to confirm my withdrawal as a candidate in the 2013 FIA Presidential election. It has not proved possible for me to secure the required number of regional Vice Presidents for Sport to ensure the eligibility of my list. I, therefore, would like to offer my congratulations to Jean Todt who will secure a second term uncontested if unopposed.
As I explained when I launched my candidacy in September, my reason for standing has been to promote transparency, accountability and democracy in the FIA. For many years the FIA has struggled with governance reform. All too often it takes one step forward and then two steps back. This is clear from the current election which is being run on a shorter presidential list than the 2009 but which is offset by a new requirement for 26 nominating clubs. The 2009 eligibility threshold was 23 but has now risen to 37 which is the highest ever in the history of the FIA.
The need to obtain seven Vice Presidents for Sport has given control over whether or not there can be a contested election at all to the FIA’s sport regions. Moreover the use of support agreements in advance of the election makes it very hard for any candidate to obtain the required Vice Presidents for their list. In the FIA’s North American region eleven out of the twelve clubs signed an agreement to support Jean Todt in March. This left only one club available to provide a Vice President for my list. Clubs from the region that are sympathetic to my candidacy would have to break their previous pledge of support. It is understandable that they have been reluctant to do so.
Fortunately some clubs have understood the need for change. Statute amendments have been submitted to the General Assembly to delete Vice Presidents of Sport from the presidential list and cut the number of club nominations. If passed the eligibility requirement for future FIA elections would be just seven. This would encourage multiple candidates to stand and restore fairness to the FIA election system.
The statute changes would also give sport regions the right to directly elect their own Vice Presidents for Sport. This would strengthen their accountability to the regions that elect them. According to the Senate President Nick Craw, “the idea of electing Sport VPs democratically is not practical”. I strongly disagree with this. It is perfectly practical to be democratic. The FIA’s Vice Presidents for Mobility are elected in this way; so are the Regional Presidents of the Federation Internationale de Motorcylisme (FIM). The reason why the FIA leadership finds democracy impractical is that they fear it would be less easy for them to control regions that elect their own leaders.
The current FIA model is government of the leadership, by the leadership, for the leadership. I think it would be better if they took their inspiration from President Lincoln. The FIA’s government should be of the clubs, by the clubs, and for the clubs.
I believe greater democracy among the clubs and their regions is essential to the future growth and vitality of the FIA. This is particularly important in a world in which mobility and motor sport will grow fastest in the newly motorising economies of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East.
These are the regions where elected Vice Presidents can develop the skills and experience needed for higher office. Then, as happened in the FIM a few years ago, perhaps a non-European can be elected as FIA President.
My candidacy in the 2013 election has not been motivated by a burning ambition to serve as President of the FIA. My clear preference would be for a club President to be elected to that role, supported by the appointment of a new Chief Executive. That is why I have described myself as a reluctant candidate. What I have tried to do is to encourage debate about the flaws that exist in the FIA’s governance system. I am satisfied that I have succeeded in that. Indeed I have received many supportive comments about my manifesto ‘Agenda for Change’ and I hope the ideas it contains will serve as a catalyst for further reform.
If the statute amendments are passed on 6th December the FIA will have taken a significant step towards a more democratic future. I very much hope that the amendments will not ‘talked out’ by the leadership in the World Councils, but voted on by secret ballot in the General Assembly.
Whatever the outcome, I think progress in the governance of the FIA is inevitable. We are living in an age of transparency with new demands for accountability from governments, corporations and sports federations alike.
Last week the new President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach speaking in the UN General Assembly said that sports organisations need to justify their autonomy and demonstrate good governance.
He explained that the IOC’s Universal Principles of Good Governance of the Olympic Movement should be accepted as a minimum standard at all levels of sport. I fully agree with President Bach and urge the FIA membership to study the Universal Principles carefully and use them to guide further reform to improve the FIA’s transparency, accountability and democracy.
I have had the privilege to work in various capacities with the FIA and the FIA Foundation for twenty years. It has been a very rewarding experience both professionally and personally. I would like to especially thank the supporters of my campaign, the clubs willing to nominate me, and all those who encouraged me to stand. For me it has been a very positive experience. I wish all my friends and colleagues in the very best of luck as you continue to develop the FIA’s vital role promoting motor sport and mobility around the world.
Kevin Magnussen confirmed by McLaren
The worst kept secret for the past week or so is now announced. TJ13 was probably the first to comment on the withdrawal of Magnusses at the last minute from the DAMS team GP2 test last week, and the speculation for why this was the case is proven true.
McLaren had nothing to gain and everything to lose by allowing their protoge to test in a car he hadn’t driven all season, on tyres he was unfamiliar with against those who have been driving GP2 all year. An unfavourable comparison would have led to questions over the latest McLaren driver selection.
The team’s decision to recruit Sergio Perez for this year has to be now questioned. They either recruited the wrong man the panic caused by Hamilton’s departure – or they failed to get the best out of Checo.
Martin Whitmarsh has published this statement.
“We’re delighted that Kevin will be joining Jenson as a McLaren Formula 1 race driver for 2014. Their confirmation is an important step for us as we continue to strengthen our organisation ahead of the 2014 season.
Next year, we’ll witness the biggest raft of technical changes to Formula 1 in many years, and every team and manufacturer will be pushed to the limit as they try their best to adapt to those new challenges.
Jenson’s race-winning speed, intelligence and racecraft have long been a crucial advantage to McLaren, but it’s his skill as a development driver and his peerless technical feedback that will be equally valuable as we make the transition into a new and complex technical formula during the winter and new year.
Kevin, too, is clearly very talented and very determined, and we therefore have high hopes for him. Moreover, every time he’s tested our Formula 1 car, he’s been very quick and very methodical, and his feedback has been first-class.
“Furthermore, the manner in which he won this year’s World Series by Renault 3.5 Championship was truly outstanding, showcasing as it did not only his impressive natural pace but also his increasing maturity and ability to structure and manage a championship campaign.
Last but very far from least, I want to take this opportunity to thank Checo, who has developed well during a difficult season, as his recent run of points-scoring finishes underlines. He’s a lovely guy and a fine driver – fast and combative – and I’m sure he’ll build on that firm foundation in 2014.
All at McLaren wish him well for the future.”
Kovalainen confirmed for Lotus
For many it was a surprise when Nico Hulkenberg turned down the opportunity to drive for Lotus in the last 2 GP of the year, though recent news including the Enstone’s approach to Michael Schumacher makes it clear they are looking for someone with race experience to carry the fight to Ferrari.
The announcement has just been made that Heikki Kovalainen will fill Kimi’s empty seat for the remainder of the year
Eric Boullier sums it up the options. “On the one hand we had our reserve driver Davide Valsecchi – who is a talented young driver that has shown a great deal of promise – and on the other we had the opportunity to bring in a seasoned Formula 1 competitor in Heikki.
Whilst we have every faith in Davide’s abilities, we are obviously involved in a tight Constructors’ Championship battle, so it was decided that the experience Heikki could bring to the team would be invaluable as we aim to finish the year in the best position possible”.
There have been many who believe that by overlooking their reseve driver, Lotus are making a mockery of having such a position in the team. However, in 1999 when Schumacher broke his leg, Ferrari overlooked its reserve driver Badoer and plumped instead for the Finn Mika Salo
Maybe there’s a whole ‘Finnish super substitute’ thing going on here – who knows?
Caterham Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul reveales, “We were asked by Lotus F1 Team if we could release Heikki from his contract with us for the final two races of 2013 and we are pleased that we can help to give him the chance to race again in 2013,”
Abiteboul goes on to make the point, “He is a valued member of the Caterham family and we’re sure that he’ll do a good job in the USA and Brazil,” This has to be a good indication that Caterham are serious about retaining Kovalainen’s services for 2014, though Heikki will be hoping he can use this opportunity to attract attention from a team other than those at the back of the grid.
That said, Kovalainen does not bring substantial financial backing and the other seats on offer further up the grid appear to have a price tag attached in the form of sponsorship that comes with the driver. Times have changed since Kobayashi stood in for the injured Glock and held off a title charging Button in Brazil. A seat at Sauber then opened up the following year.
A joyous Heikki commented, “We’ve seen this year that the E21 is a car which can win races and finish on the podium, so I will be pushing hard for the best results possible. Jumping into a car so late in the year when you have not been competing in the races all season will be a challenge, but I know the team at Enstone well so I have no concerns about getting up to speed”.
Good to see Heikki so positive and not hedging his bets in advance
Footnote: Luca Badoer did get his chance when handed a Ferrari race seat after Felipe Massa’s accident in Hungary, the Italian qualified last in Valencia, and was caught speeding in the pit-lane on Friday practice 4. He didn’t fare much better in the race, finishing 17th after being hit by Roman Grosjean. He was replaced after a poor performance in Spa by Giancarlo Fisichella.
A Tale of 2 drivers
Yesterday we had the letter from Sergio Perez which he published to all his fans explaining he would be leaving the McLaren team in 2014. It was a gracious offering and showed the young Mexican has a lot of class, despite the bitter disappointment of what he must have thought was his big F1 opportunity.
Today we have the tale of another driver and it is quite different. Pastor Maldonado has for 3 years been privileged to drive for the Williams Formula 1 team, and mostly due to the $100m backing provided by Venezuela’s former president.
Yet there is something unsavoury about Maldonado who in certain quarters became known as “Crashtor”. In his first season during qualifying for Spa, Hamilton overtook him when both drivers were on a quick lap in Q2.
Aggrieved by the move, Maldonado rammed his car into Hamilton’s following the completion of the session. The close of the season went from bad to worse for ‘Crashtor’. He lost his front wing in Monza qualifying, was reprimanded for speeding in the pit lane in Korea and crashed his car in every session of the Indian grand prix.
Abu Dhabi saw Pastor awarded a 30 second penalty for ignoring blue flags and in the season’s finale in Brazil he inexplicably crashed with no one else about around – half way into the race. Pastor finished the season with one point – at the time the worst tally for a William’s driver in their history.
Most F1 fans won’t know that Pastor was adjudged to have driven so dangerously in Monaco when competing in the World Series by Renault, that he was said to have been banned from racing in the principality for life.
His crime? Wilfully ignoring yellow flags and hitting a marshal. The result? The marshal sustained spinal injuries. The ban was later revised to just 9 races and rumours that wealth had intervened followed.
If 2011 was an inauspicious start for Maldonado in F1 then 2012 on the whole was worse. Granted he won the Spanish GP, though the reputation of the Circuit de Catalunya for providing processional F1 races should not be discounted.
Pastor racked up the most penalties ever awarded to an F1 driver in a single season – hit 9 times by the stewards for poor driving standards. As though this wasn’t enough, the Venezuelan managed to have terminal offs with no one else involved again in Australia, Monaco and Brazil, along with another Hamilton incident.
Most amusing was when Maldonado took his F1 Williams car to his home country to provide a demonstration in on the streets of Caracas. The result is below.
Yet Williams again signed him up for 2013. Presumably being a GP winner and having the budget of a small countries national debt in his pocket all became a bit too much for Pastor and he began to believe his own press.
Williams have had an awful year with the uncompetitive FW35 and have only scored one point to date, when Maldonado managed tenth at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Yet following the Korean GP Maldonado told the world’s media, “I’m living a really bad moment and I need some motivation to keep doing my best. I want something more. I’m here for something more.
I don’t want to just be in F1, to be honest. It’s better to stay at home, if it’s like that. I don’t care about being a F1 driver, I’m here to win and I need to do whatever it takes to be there.”
Having won a race in 2012 may have given Pastor a false sense of entitlement as he continues, “Last year I was winning races, today I’m nowhere. This year I’m here, next year I don’t know where I will be.” He clearly places the blame firmly in one place, “I really need a good car to enjoy it, and this year I’m not enjoying it.”
All the time the relationship behind the scenes between Pastor and the team was becoming strained. Following Hugo Chavez death, there has been an element of uncertainty over Pastor’s sponsor ability to continue with their contribution.
This culminated in Claire Williams travelling to Venezuela to negotiate the release of PDVSA from their obligations to Williams. The team announcement of Felipe Massa was an interesting event. Sir Frank made a big play of their history with Brazilian drivers and little was said of the departing Maldonado
Sir Frank also particularly noted, “Valtteri is a valued member of the team and I’m pleased he was able to demonstrate his talent in tricky conditions in Montreal [where he qualified third on the grid]. There is much more to come from him.”
Who exactly is to blame for the deterioration in the relationship is not clear, yet Maldonado has been afforded a privilege – and one not entirely on merit. Winning GP2 assures you of nothing.
Today, Maldonado sums up his 3 year experience at Williams. When asked if he was sorry to be leaving the team he replied, “No, I’m very happy. I wanted to leave the team, and I’m happy about that.
It’s been a tough year, very hard for the whole team, but personally I want to drive something different. This is an important time for me in my career. It’s a tough decision – my decision – but a great one.
Overall, I feel I delivered more to the team than they did for me. We had a victory, some good results last year, and even this year we’ve done well in some races, but this is not everything. I’m waiting and expecting something more from Formula One.”
Oh well… some kids are just wrong ‘uns, Grandpappy Judge used to say.
FIA press conference personnel unpublished
The personnel attending the so called FIA press conferences at each GP in fact are significantly influenced by Ecclestone’s FOM. Such that, regularly it is Formula1.com who announce those who will be attending up to a day before the FIA list it on their site.
This weekend has seen silence on the matter from both parties. Apparently, Ferrari have been unable to confirm whether those requested from their team would be able to attend.
Many of the main stream F1 journalists don’t bother attending these events, and so this omission has been off their radar. A paddock reporter has just confirmed today’s drivers’ FIA press conference will see in attendance, Kovalainen, Maldonado, Perez, Bianchi, Di Resta and Gutierrez.
Fernando Alonso will be unavailable for media duties today and will attend an FIA medical examination at the circuit and then leave.
Okay… that’s par for the course… nothing exceptional there at all……
UPDATE: Alonso is still unavailable for comment, though has been declared fit to race and has returned to the hotel to rest his back.
Ooops… and No Heikki in the press conference now… its all rather a shambles…
In fact with the exception of Bianchi, this is the support group for drivers unsure of their F1 futures
Todt’s secret election campaign
TJ13 has been contacted by someone – we must be honest appears to be a disaffected consultant to the FIA. Apparently, Jean Todt proposed using an American style political PR firm for his presidential re-election campaign to develop sound bite like slogans.
By changing the election rules and making it nigh on impossible for anyone to run against him, the consultancy was deemed unnecessary.
We suspect there may be a dispute over ‘payments’ due as some of the material may have been doctored.
Click on the individual pictures for a full screen view.
Senna’s pulling power
20 years after he won his last race, Senna looks down on proceedings from a board outside the Circuit of the Americas