Daily #F1 News & Comment: Friday, 22nd November 2013

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We’ll see you on Monday: Webber starts Porsche job early (11:30)

Paul di Resta not completely out of options (11:30)

Monisha Kaltenborn: Sauber’s existence was never in danger (11:30)

Ecclestone sees the writing on the wall

Vettel’s improving PR

A present for Seb

Massa farewell lid

Sergio bullish for 2014

Interlagos Saturday weather


We’ll see you on Monday: Webber starts Porsche job early

Read Bull Racing will not force Mark Webber to sit out the remaining days of his contract. An agreement between Webber and the F1 team allows him to start his new job early, in fact he will officially transfer to Porsche’s works team on Monday, only one day after his final Formula 1 Grandprix. Since he was already allowed to attend a seat fitting in the week before the Austin Grand Prix, the stage is set for Webber to test his new steed before the year ends.

The agreement was made easier by the fact that in a way Mark will remain a member of the ‘Red Bull family’. The Austrian fizzy drinks company will continue to sponsor him when he drives for Porsche, so all those, who hoped for a nasty tell-all book next year will have to wait a while longer.

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Paul di Resta not completely out of options

While his place at Force India for 2014 looks everything but secure, Paul di Resta is not completely out of options for next year. While he admits that his focus is still on retaining his Formula One seat at Force India, he now openly contemplates other drives.

One option is, as we reported recently, that he could take the seat of his cousin Dario Franchitti at Chip Ganassi Racing in Indycar. While Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Andretti refugee Tony Kanaan are already confirmed for next year, Ganassi has announced that the fourth entry, Franchitti’s ride, will still be entered next year even after the Scotsman had to hang up the helmet as the result of his horrible shunt at Texas. Di Resta had dismissed an Indycar drive in the past due to the series’s rather poor safety record, but is now much more open to the idea.

Another option would be the return to the DTM. Although Mercedes, his former and in case of a switch most likely employer, suffered one of the worst seasons in their DTM history, they still plan to run two additional cars next year. Unlike other former F1 drivers, who switched to DTM – Mika Häkkinen, David Coulthard, Jean Alesi, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Timo Glock and Ralf Schumacher – Paul would come with an excellent recommendation – the 2010 series title. Di Resta is one of only a three drivers, who managed the feat of switching from Formula Three to DTM and entering F1 from there. Christian Albers and Giancarlo Fisichella did the same. Franchitti, too, but he switched to Champcars, the American top-tier openwheel series at the time.

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Monisha Kaltenborn: Sauber’s existence was never in danger

Both Peter Sauber himself and his successor Monisha Kaltenborn had admitted mid-season that the financial situation at Sauber had become critical, but Monisha insists that the existence of the team had not been in danger. “We knew we would continue to be part of F1,” she explains. “But we didn’t know in what shape we would be in.”

She believes that the crisis has actually strengthened the team. Sauber was one of only three teams, which scrapped their 2012 design for a complete redesign, Williams and McLaren being the other two. It’s ironic in a way that all three teams did underachieve massively in the first half of the season. While McLaren is still nowhere and Williams has recovered some modest success by ruefully returning to the initially scrapped 2012 exhaust system, Sauber managed to turn their fortunes around with a massive upgrade, despite the financial problems. Since Nico Hülkenberg’s 5th place finish at Monza, Sauber have been serious and regular competitors for points again

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Ecclestone sees the writing on the wall

The fact that Bernie Ecclestone presented to the High Court as a bumbling buffoon was hardly surprising. Comments to the effect he couldn’t remember what he’d done 3 days ago were never going look impressive. Yet this defence is clearly the best strategy to dispute the claims of corruption which may in the end be an argument over intent.

More damming was the evidence from Donald Mackenzie who revealed Ecclestone had lied to -omitted to remember to tell – the founder of CVC he had made payments to Gribkowsky.

The reality of the matter is that the 4 cases being brought against Ecclestone could rumble on for years – each dependent on evidence uncovered in the others.

Various news outlets are reporting today that Ecclestone is nominating Christian Horner as his successor. “Christian would be ideal. We could have a transitional period. It needs someone who knows the sport”.

Amusingly, Mr. E identifies the mutual qualities he and Horner share which would make him an ideal replacement for the F1 supremo. “People deal with me because they know me. I have known them for a long time and they trust me. They know I am straight with them. That is how it is with Christian. I hope we can do it.”

There is a widespread belief that Formula 1 would collapse were Ecclestone to stand down or be fired. The Daily Mail perpetuates this propaganda today, “The problem for CVC is that Ecclestone knows how the whole, crazy 20-race circus works. Every contract, every bill, every number, is locked up in his office. How hard he could make it for CVC if he chose to”.

This is clearly nonsense as Ecclestone himself made an enormous play in the High Court last week that he didn’t have a clue most of the time what documents he was signing. FOM employ a team of lawyers who manage this, Ecclestone is merely the ‘deal maker’ in his role as chief executive.

There is no doubt that whilst his peers were trying to build cars faster than their opponents, Mr. E applied himself to the commercial side of Formula 1, and over the years has a wealth of experience in dealing with the key players – whether that be team bosses, race promoters or the FIA.

Yet the business model Bernie has built is nonsense and relies upon his ability to divide and conquer by bribery and manipulation. Payments made to Eddie Jordan and others to co-erce them into signing the Concorde agreement are recent evidence of this.

Formula 1 seemingly lurches from crisis to crisis and decisions over the long term future of the sport are usually taken against the backdrop of maximising revenue to the commercial rights owners. Maybe this is what we all love and find intriguing about the sport, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The ongoing uncertainties even strengthen Ecclestone’s hand with CVC who are nervous over what would happen were he to leave his current role. Given half the chance it appears as though Bernie would keep running F1 until he dropped, yet his comments about transition suggest he is at least under some pressure to discuss the matter.

Maybe Christian Horner is the man to step into Ecclestone’s shoes – someone will have to – some day. Yet as long as the chief executive of FOM is employed by corporate bankers whose interest is to maximise their returns – any future change of personnel in this role will be superficial.

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Vettel’s improving PR

No one expects Sebastian to give up his pursuit of statistical glory and reverse the wrongs of multi 21 by handing his outgoing team mate one final win in Brazil. “Mark is a sportsman and he doesn’t want a win handed over to him,” said Vettel.

Yet maybe Vettel is slowly getting it – and doing what is required to change some negative public opinion of himself. Speaking of his time as a team mate of Mark Webber, he reflects, “People tend to forget how successful we have been. We’ve been one of the strongest pairings in F1.

Obviously we didn’t have the best relationship on a personal level, but both of us have tried very hard to improve the car.

The fact that he will not be around next year will surely be a loss for the team and a loss for myself.

I’ve learned a lot from him and I can stand up straight and say that there have been many times and places where I’ve benefited from him. You could say the same thing the other way round.”

A pretty fitting and generous testimonial from Seb to Mark methinks, and a reminder that Ricciardo has a very tough act to follow.

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A present for Seb

This arrived at Interlagos today. A present from fellow countryman and NBA star Dirk Nowitzki. This really is the ultimate in ‘the finger’ Seb – can we now put it to bed?

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Massa farewell lid

This is a rather nice lid for Felipe’s last race for Ferrari. “Some say” it has been moulded from all the blood he has shed for his team mates.

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Sergio bullish for 2014

Last weekend Sergio admitted that his late in the season sacking from McLaren had left him in “a very difficult position” for 2014.

Yet it appears Claro, part of the Carlos Slim’s empire is still backing the young Mexican and what a difference a few days makes. When asked how likely it is he will be in F1 next year, Perez responded, “Ha. 95 percent that I will remain in F1 next season – but the remaining five percent are always the tricky ones. From my gut feeling I am pretty sure that I will race in 2014”.

Summing up his year with the famous British racing marquee Sergio reflects, “It could very likely be that it will turn out to be the worst season for McLaren in history, so the season was far from ideal. But I think that nothing happens without a reason, so I am pretty convinced that in one year’s time I will probably tell you that it was the best thing that could have happened to me to leave McLaren. Well, I hope I can tell you this!”

It appears as TJ13 suggested last weekend, that Lotus’ are considering Perez – who has cash like Maldonado – but not some of the other baggage. When asked whether his options were limited to Sauber and Force India, Sergio replied, “It’s not only them. There are quite a number of options and this much I can say: right now it is looking better than it was looking one week ago. So I am looking into the future rather positively. Yep, it’s looking good”.

Checo is mysterious when asked if he feels Lotus would be a ‘good catch’. “But there are also other ‘good catches’ around”.

Mmm…. leaving McLaren, “the best thing that could have happened to me”….. “other good catches”….. curious.

Even though they provided Perez with a dog of a car, it appears he has learnt a lot about PR from McLaren… and what not to say – unlike another of his peers, whose cash may yet not prove enough to get him a move up the grid.

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Interlagos Saturday Weather

brazil weather 2013 (2)

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18 responses to “Daily #F1 News & Comment: Friday, 22nd November 2013

    • You know how good this article is researched when you read the last line *LOL* Somehow the author missed the little fact that Vettel won the championship this year, too.

      The Guardian is not exactly the paper I look into when expecting well-informed information about F1.

      • DS – surely you must know by now, that UK newspapers never let little details – like the facts – get in the way of a story ……

        LOL 🙂

      • I read them all Danilo, cross referencing usually means you get the gist of the ‘truth’.

        Guardian, Telegraph and Independent usually have good stories. Don’t read The Times as i refuse to pay for news.

        The rest are rags so don’t bother with them.

      • The byline states clearly this is a Reuters wire story. Reuters has corrected this story.

        Paul Weaver is The Guardian’s F1 writer…

    • That is very good news, and I hope they succeed in a proper tyre test in December.

      From what I’ve seen, Pirelli are fairly well settled on the 2014 structure, and are working very hard on the new compounds. They’ve settled, as a default position, on the more conservative 1 stop per race specification.

      At the same time they’re working on a compound that throws fewer marbles, (tyre engineers will call it “tearing”).

      Compounding work remains a bit of a black art, despite all the advances in technologies. I suspect this new compounding work is why they’ve insisted for the last weeks that they require proper tyre testing, and soon.

      On their “want” list, they ask for more than 4 spec compounds for a season (from double to triple the number). But they acknowledge lack of support from some teams. Perhaps due to an additional burden for teams, I suppose…?

  1. Yes, Horner would be excellent. Look how well he did managing Red Bull this year. I feel a script coming on. Why oh why when I am busiest does this happen LOL.

  2. Regarding Maldonado’s cash. I read a interview yesterday, and apparently he isn’t really sure if PDVSA will continue supporting him next year, but he believes he doesn’t need them and will get a seat anyway (!). I would think in that case Hulkenberg and Perez would look like better options to the teams with available seats.

  3. “Yet the business model Bernie has built is nonsense and relies upon his ability to divide and conquer by bribery and manipulation. ” <better< and more stable and less scandalized could F1 have been by now if it WASN'T dominated for decades by a SHyster CEO!?!?

  4. “Yet the business model Bernie has built is nonsense and relies upon his ability to divide and conquer by bribery and manipulation. ” — THIS!!!

    For all the “good” (and I use that term w/o prejudice) Bernie has done for the sport, one MUST ask how much *better* and more stable and less scandalized could F1 have been by now if it WASN’T dominated for decades by a SHyster CEO!?!?

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