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The importance of being idle (07:01)
Nico Hulkenberg to Force India (07:01, Updated 08:00)
Double dealing team boss (11:26)
Massa dig at Kimi (11:52)
The art of clutching at straws (12:09)
Brawn announcement this week (15:30)
McLaren doctor to retire (16:21)
The importance of being idle
No, this is not some kind of tribute page to the Brit Pop band Oasis, but instead to Infniti Red Bull Racing. There had been speculating around the world that after the race we may finally get to hear the honest opinion from Mark Webber, on life at Milton Keynes. There was always a limited chance of this actually happening as Red Bull are sponsoring his drive for Porsche, with some of the the team personnel even following him.
However, while Ferrari have been whining and moaning about who is to blame for the lack of car development over the past 2 years (see yesterday’s news) the RBR team have kept a cool head and kept it classy for the media. The post race interviews were almost something of a love-in between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, although there is a low chance they will be exchanging Christmas cards. Ferrari could learn a thing or two from them.
There is a short video below to highlight all the problems the pair have had over the years. It speaks volumes about Mark Webber that nothing was said following the race with emotions clearly running high.
Nico Hulkenberg to Force India
To say F1 is a strange sport is stating the obvious, but if ever evidence was needed it comes in the form of Force India. Nico Hulkenberg has already signed his contract and is now waiting for the deal to be confirmed according to Michael Schmidt of Auto Motor und Sport. He said, “The deal should be announced in the next few days.”
Having been a test/reserve driver for Force India in 2011 (following his unceremonious dumping from F1 in 2010 by Williams), as well as taking up a job working in the factory at Silverstone, he was given a seat for 2012 replacing Adrian Sutil. In 2013, he trundled off to Sauber as Adrian Sutil returned to the Silverstone team. In 2014, they are set to be partners.
Sutil confirmed in Brazil to German broadcaster RTL that, “I will definitely be back next year.” He continued to say, “I know it already but I will not say it. I have had a contract for months, and it is signed.”
As has been reported by TJ13 previously, this leaves a dark shadow over the career of Paul Di Resta. David Coulthard looked like a kid that been told Christmas had been cancelled when Martin Whitmarsh confirmed on the BBC F1 Forum post-race that the Scot looks to be heading out of Formula One. Will anybody else miss him?
Der Spiegel, a major news magazine from Germany, however claims that both Sutil and Di Resta will leave Force India and that Sutil and Hülkenberg will actually swap places, while Di Resta’s seat is to be taken by Sergio Perez. It would still leave Paul out of work and it sounds just bizarre enough to be a probable solution. It could also explain why Whitmarsh of all people is so sure about Paul’s departure.
Something to make you smile on a Monday
Copyright Ryan Morrison
Stewards decision spoils Massa’s Ferrari farewell
Felipe Massa always had a knack for emotional reactions, but his team radio outburst over his drive-through penalty had an almost Montoya-esque flair about it. Driving in fourth, behind his team mate Alonso at the time his pace suggested that he could have easily stayed there, but Motorsport Total reports that his team mate had one last big farewell gesture in mind. Having already secured his fourth runner-up spot in the championship, Fernando Alonso was prepared to relinquish his podium place to his faithful Lieutenant of many years, should they still be 3rd and 4th towards the end of the race. That would have allowed Massa to visit the podium one last time for Ferrari in front of his home crowd.
But the race officials toppled that plan by handing out a harsh drive-through penalty for crossing the pit entry line. While there was no problem crossing the single white line, crossing the striped area after the pitlane entry splits from the main racing line had been declared a no-go in the drivers briefing. Several drivers, for instance Hülkenberg, Gutierrez and Bottas could be seen doing the same, but poor Felipe had the unfortunate distinction of doing it more than once and having other drivers rat him out. Both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, fighting for their team to stay ahead of Ferrari in the constructors championship, called in via team-radio to make Ross Brawn ‘aware’ of Felipe’s ‘trespassing’.
Useless Pub Quiz Ammo – Interlagos Edition
The “Chilton Craze” on the F1Rejects forum took to new heights as the blond baby face from her Majesty’s Empire became the first ever rookie, who finished every single race of his debut season.
Caterham’s Charles Pic is the only driver, who has never made it out of Q1 all year.
With Red Bull taking the final win, Renault powered cars have won both the first and last race of the V8 era.
With Jenson Button scoring McLarens best result of the year with a 4th place finish, McLaren didn’t score a podium finish all year. The last time that had happened was in the 1980 season, 33 years ago. The years 1966, 1967, 1971, 1980 and now 2013 are the only seasons in which McLaren didn’t score at least one podium finish.
With his ninth consecutive win, Vettel matched Ascari’s record of as many wins in a row in 1952/1953 and while the German was busy to nibble away at another record of Schumacher and Ascari, Mark Webber made sure that he failed at doing so. Both Ascari and Schumacher are tied for second at five behind Jim Clark’s eight in the all time list of Grand Chelems. Vettel has scored four so far with two consecutive such feats in the Singapore and Korean Grand Prix. Having secured pole and overhauled Rosberg just inches before the line at the end of lap 1, thus having lead every lap, Vettel could have scored another Grand Chelem and caught up with Schumacher and Ascari. He would have also been the first since Jim Clark in ’63 and ’65 to score three in one season. But it all came to nothing as Mark Webber ‘stole’ the fastest lap and uncharacteristically (and probably much to Rocky’s delight) Vettel didn’t try to get it back in the closing laps.
It’s good to see at least some records still to be broken, but I’m reasonably sure that Vettel is the youngest ever driver to be denied a Grand Chelem by his own team mate 😉
Double dealing team boss
Martin Whitmarsh revealed over the weekend his irritation with another F1 team boss. The plan for Magnussen was to get him a drive with another team for 2014 and to retain the services of Sergio Perez. “I hoped and tried to find him a drive. I even did a deal and shook hands with a team principal” – who Whitmarsh reveals ‘he’ then reneged on the handshake.
The options for Perez at that time when Quantum was still a vaguely believable entity were in fact Sauber, Force India and Marussia. Perez for obvious reasons did not wish to join the Russian team and this too would have been a negative reflection on McLaren’s view of Perez’s worth.
Whitmarsh was asked would he like to identify the turncoat team boss he wryly replied, “I would like to, but I won’t. Even after 25 years I find that difficult to deal with — I know I shouldn’t, but I am still hopelessly naive.
“I still think that if you look somebody in the eye and shake hands, then that’s a done deal. When it turns out like in the Magnussen case, then I am shocked, and I tell myself ‘learn, don’t be naive’”.
McLaren were then between a rock and a hard place. Having talked up Magnussen to Hamilton-esque levels of potential and presented a number of reasons for his urgent inclusion in F1 for 2014 – they had no choice but to put him in their own car.
The decision was taken on the day of the Abu Dhabi race and Magnussen was pulled immediately from the GP2 test he was due to undertake the following day.
It is now all but confirmed by Mallya that Sergio Perez will race for Force India in 2014, the team Whitmarsh tried to persuade to take Magnussen. Vijay’s double dealing has worked out quite nicely. The Silvertsone team now get an experienced but quick young F1 driver – with Telmex related funding – instead of an untried McLaren young gun and some promises of support from Woking.
Commenting on Perez’s future to the Guardian, Whitmarsh states “I am very happy.” He hits out at the ex-McLaren Mexican manager who accused Perez of being arrogant and adds, “Lots of stuff has been written but he’s a young man who has been incredibly dignified.
He is very much liked in the team, is a thoroughly likeable guy and I said to him: ‘Prove us wrong’. We’ve done what we can to help him out and he certainly deserves to be in Formula One, so I’m delighted for him that we’ll see his smiling face in the paddock [in 2014].”
It is expected that Perez will now be joined by Hulkenberg as Force India have agreed to pay him the $1.9m he is owed from them for his 2012 contract.
Massa dig at Kimi
The final race of the season is done, and it’s a mere 63 days until the V6 turbo engines are fired up in Jerez on January 28th 2014. This earlier than usual test will mean the winter without F1 is not as long as usual.
The driver market should resolve itself more quickly this year, as Force India will be unable to dither and dally until after Bahrain test 1 before confirming their line-up. If Vijay doesn’t speak soon, it looks as though Martin Whitmarsh will steal his thunder completely following the double dealing the Indian played over Magnussen and Perez.
Further, this week should see some other scores settled and stories emanating form the now completed 2013 season. Felipe kicks this off with a dig at Kimi – who in effect finished his career at Ferrari.
Felipe had 3 partners during his Ferrari career and reflected to Italian F1 broadcasting media, “From the Schumacher, Raikkonen and Alonso era, it was definitely easier working with Schumacher and Alonso”. Massa elaborates, “there was no relationship or friendship with Kimi – he lived in his own world”.
Felipe suggests that Fernando should expect the same treatment as he mischievously observes, “if Kimi couldn’t have a friendly relationship with me, then he won’t with anyone else”.
However, Massa has words of advice for Raikkonen, “he must be well prepared to survive alongside Alonso, because it is not easy to be a team-mate of Fernando Alonso. He is a very strong, sometimes the perfect driver and so Kimi will always have to give his absolute maximum.”
Its almost guaranteed we’ll see some big time fun and games inside the Scuderia Ferrari in 2014; and whether Domenicali can manage these two world champion drivers is a question soon to be resolved.
The art of clutching at straws
In terms of podiums…. Ie ZERO.. for McLaren, this was their worst season since 1980. Yet the McLaren image marches onwards in its pursuit of a Ferrari like indifference to everything and everyone in the advancement of its own glorification.
Martin Whitmarsh proudly announced following the race, “As of today, McLaren became the first team in Formula One history to have both its cars classified in every Grand Prix during the season. And, also as of today, McLaren completed 99.17% of the season’s total possible race distance – 7139 miles [11,488km] out of a possible 7198 miles [11,584km] – which is not only better than every other team managed this season but is also a new world record, beating the previous record of 98.30% set by BMW-Sauber in 2008.
Those two stats constitute compelling proof of the fact that our trackside mechanics and engineers possess the three D’s in impressive abundance: dedication, determination and discipline. Well done, boys, I’m proud of you”.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Whitmarsh continued his rhetoric – like the Grand old Duke of York – trumpeting, “Today, Jenson broke a record, too, becoming the first British F1 driver to start 247 Grand Prix, eclipsing the previous British milestone of 246 set by our old friend David [Coulthard].
And the way Jenson drove today proves that he’s as hungry and as competitive as ever he was.
Checo also drove a superb race today, surging from nineteenth on the grid to sixth at the flag, and I’m personally delighted that he was able to end his year at McLaren with such a fantastic performance. As I’ve said many times, he’s a fine driver. He’s also a lovely guy, and the way he’s conducted himself over the past ten days, in particular, in extremely challenging circumstances, has been hugely impressive. He’s a class act”.
I can hear the strains of Williams Blake’s 17th century anthem being re-written…
“I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built the MTC,
In Englands green & pleasant Land”
Doesn’t sound quite right……. Maybe “Meticulous McLaren” is better.
The picture that defined a career
Thanks to TJ13 contributor Joe Papp who captured this moment – along with the strap line for Webber’s career – “I did it my way”.
TJ13 is pleased to announce it will have intimate and in depth coverage of the WES in 2014 😉
Lotus – cool cats or headless chickens?
The Enstone based team have cultivated over recent years a ‘cool cat’ image on social media and the recruitment of Raikkonen out of retirement for 2012 enhanced this further. Though behind the hip front, it appears the Enstone has become one trauma after another.
Of course Genii executive Gerard Lopez is correct when stating, it was they alone who had the foresight to recruit a ‘has been’ F1 driver whose motivation was questioned by many in F1 – including those in Maranello. They took the risk – and in many ways it paid off.
Prior to Raikkonen joining in 2012, the team had been 5th in both 2010 and 2011 and were 8th in the WCC the previous year. So beating Mercedes and McLaren in 2012-13 to 4th place has been a credit both to the car design and driver recruitment policy.
However, all is not well behind the scenes at Lotus. Stories began to emerge that Kimi was not being paid during the season last year, though he was remunerated in full at the close of the year.
Further, details of Raikkonen’s 50,000 euro’s per point bonus became known and the reasoning behind the math amused many. Kimi scored 207 points in 2012 – a bonus of just over 10 million euro’s. Lotus beat Mercedes into 4th place and probably received an incremental 6m euro’s in prize money over that of the Brackley based outfit.
2012: Lotus 315 pts – Mercedes 122 pts meant that Romain Grosjean alone had guaranteed them 4th place above Mercedes.
Then there were the teasers from Enstone that a big new title sponsor was due for 2013 – which TJ13 dutifully played its part in reporting from ‘our source’. The Honeywell deal failed to come through and it remains a mystery today whether the agency handling the commission in fact ever had any contact with the US global brand.
More egg on the Genii/Lotus face.
Kimi won the season opener in Australia, and it all looked as though the project was on track, yet behind the scenes Genii had pumped in the money in as loans to the Enstone British corporation.
Genii like CVC are a private equity capital fund. Whilst they use the Lotus F1 brand to attract investors and to get a seat at the table for certain deals, they are bound to not lose gazzilions on the deal, and maybe even sell within 5 years for a profit.
Along comes known conman Mansoor Ijaz, who had allegedly attempted to broker ‘international negotiations’ to deliver the handing over of Osama bin Laden from Sudan to the US. He claims this would have been effected but for the fact that the US counter terrorism unit and national security advisors questioned his legitimacy.
Ijaz heads up a newly formed investment fund called Infinity Racing. It is believed to be a consortium of Eastern and Middle Eastern cash 60% of which was coming from a donor who wished to remain anonymous. Lopez later admitted in Austin the ‘unknown’ nature of an investor supplying 60% of more than $250m of investment was in fact part of the problem delaying the transaction – big surprise there eh?
Despite the ridiculous “Infinity” name, which TJ13 was the first to declare would cause a legal claim from Nissan-Renault, an announcement was made in June 2013 that 35% of the team would be sold to new partners.
This of course never happened and Infinity Racing quietly died and the phoenix from the ashes was Quantum Motorsports. In the meantime Kimi had been courted by Ferrari though intimated he would stay at Lotus were the inward investment guaranteed. The outcome, Raikkonen will be driving for the red team in 2014.
The team and their star driver then had a very public spat in India and Abu Dhabi which resulted in the ‘iceman’ having a public melt down with track side director for Lotus Alan Parmane. The following week Kimi revealed he had been paid ‘not one euro’ this year.
Kimi then went off ‘sick and the team needed an urgent replacement for Austin and Interlagos. The Hulk and M. Schumacher turned them down, so the decision was to recruit a driver with F1 race experience ahead of their GP2 winning reserve driver.
Just over a week later, this decision looks now to be a poor one. “I think the car is great,” said Kovalainen on Sunday, “but I was not able to unlock the pace. I was anticipating it would be easier to come back and race competitively.”
In the meantime, a disgruntled Davide Valsecchi has had his say and concluded yesterday, “I told the team it would have been better to choose my heart and my motivation than the experience of Kovalainen, I’m really sorry they didn’t do it.”
“Next week” has been the cry for some time now when either Lopez, Boullier of Ijaz have been questioned on the timescale for Genii concluding the Quantum purchase. The delays and subsequent leaks out over the sums of money involved have raised many questions regarding the legitimacy of Mansoor Ijaz’s intentions.
It was suggested to a shifty Eric Boullier at the FIA press conference in Brazil that even a simple google search revealed a number of dubious matters regarding the front man for Quantum. He replied less than convinvingly, “Fortunately we don’t have to base our judgement only on Google, with all respect to Google for what they are doing. To answer the question, yes, we have very serious proof of funds and good compliance of what is Quantum Motorsport”.
TJ13 was recently advised by an associate from an international investment fund that this deal in effect would value the Enstone based team at around $750m – and that was in fact ‘highly optimistic’.
Hulkenberg, the Boullier, Lopez and Ijaz preferred replacement for Kimi appears to have passed them by due to the undue delay in the investment funds arriving and further this weekend there have been whispers suggesting the Lotus team may not even be on the grid in 2014. This is unlikely, though It may be the case that the Genii investors behind Lopez have forbidden any further cash advancements.
So no more Genii cash and a phantom Quantum investment means the team will have around $90m from participation and prize money via FOM as a starting budget for 2014, prior to any sponsorship deals with Microsoft and Coca Cola and any other invisibles.
Maldonado’s pot of oil money – though reduced from its zenith during the Williams era – is believed to still be in the region of $25m and the team may now be looking desperately for another pay driver to bolster funds. Grosjean commented to German media when asked if he were to lose his seat next year in F1, “I’d probably go to DTM or sports cars”. Not exactly the confidence we heard from the Frenchman just a week ago.
It’s a shame the cool cats of F1 have been reduced to what looks like a bunch of headless chickens – cluttering up the paddock and confusing the driver market.
Brawn announcement this week
Ross Brawn suggested this weekend that the 2014 Mercedes F1 car “will be something special” which sent the romantics into a spin personal reflections hoping he would stay at Mercedes and receive the credit he deserves.
The hard facts are that should the Mercedes 2014 car win either or both F1 titles, anyone who knows anything about F1 will know that Brawn’s hand in this would be at least as and probably more significant as those of Lauda, Wolff or Lowe.
Of course the development race will be fascinating during the year, but should Mercedes come out of the blocks ahead of the rest then the leadership of 1 man – Brawn – will be the reason.
German media are reporting Brawn will announce he is leaving Mercedes this week. He will leave because as he stated to SKY in Japan, he believes a team needs “one point of reference,” and anything other Brawn himself being the ‘top dog’ he refuses to contemplate.
UK TV broadcast pictures of Brawn leaving the Ferrari hospitality area after a meeting with Stefano Domenicali – speculating this could only mean he will be replacing Stefano as Ferrari team boss. TJ13 reported on Friday there may soon be ructions in the senior management at Maranello, but cannot confirm the Brawn rumours from our sources.
It is still on the cards that Honda/McLaren have poached the Englishman. Brawn has told friends he is happy living in England and would not wish to move abroad again – though these comments were some time ago and things can and do change.
Brawn commented in the team principals’ press conference that he thought Mercedes was “a team similar to Ferrari where we do an engine and a chassis and I think that’s a significant benefit for next season. The engine has been very much designed alongside the chassis to get the best integrated package. I think the engine is going to be one of the differentiators next year.”
Honda would be served well to recruit Brawn as they look to design an engine specifically to work with the McLaren chassis of 2015. The new Honda F1 factory is in Milton Keynes – not far from Brackley where Brawn currently works and the Japanese company has been poaching powertrain engineers from Mercedes already.
Wolf admits his people are leaving, but infers Honda are getting Mercedes’ rejects, “This is quite normal that Honda poaches from us. It also comes as no surprise because we know which personal contracts expire and when, and we if want to keep them we have given them a new one ahead of time”.
Martin Whitmarsh has just presided over one of McLaren’s worst 5 years in the past 50, and like Domenicali is no new kid on the block. It may be he has to take responsibility for the team’s woeful failings and Big Ron believes Ross Brawn would sharpen up the act of the Woking based team.
Salmon fishing is still an option……
McLaren doctor to retire
McLaren doctor Aki Hintsa is retiring from travelling with the Formula 1 circus to concentrate on managing his clinical in Geneva.
Hintsa’s philosophy – to create a strong foundation of health and wellbeing – was forged in the mid 1990’s during Aki’s his time working in the missionary hospitals of warring Ethiopia.
Finnish broadcaster MT3 reports, “Travelling is proving to be a pretty big obstacle, Now, there are younger and better doctors, and I will focus on a different mission — life,” laughed Hintsa.
HINTSA Performance now has a world wide reach and numbers as clients some of the world’s elite athletes, sporting teams and companies.
Earlier this year, Aki’s daughter Lotta Hintsa won the Miss Finland competition and it is widely believed that in 2006 she had been Lewis Hamilton’s girlfriend for a while.
Caterham and Marrusia prize money
You may have heard interviews on your national F1 TV broadcaster with either John Booth or Graham Lowden who claimed that achieving 10th place this year was about the sporting achievement and not the money. Those with a sceptical ear may think “Mmm….sure. Tell us another story.”
So here’s the latest rules we have governing the teams’ share of the F1 cash
Caterham (as we’ll call them) earned $10m from finishing 10th in 2011, but this jumped to $35m in 2012 – because they had finished in the top 10 for 2 or more consecutive years. The prize money for 2013 is believed to be around $730m. From this Ferrari get 2.5% for being Ferrari and the rest is split into 2 equal pots.
One pot of $355m is shared evenly amongst the top 10 teams so long as they have been in the top 10 for 2 of the last 3 years. If there are less than 10 teams qualifying for this fund, it is split between those who are eligible.
Last year saw Caterham fulfil this piece of criteria and they received a bump of just over £35m on the money they were awarded in 2011. Of course, finishing 11th they should get nothing for their 2013 endeavours as the $10m a year ‘Bernie’s cash fund” set up to see the 3 new teams through their first 3 years has now expired.
Marussia also get nothing from this pot as they fail to fulfil the 2 out of 3 years criteria. They will however should get paid from the second of the fund sharing pots.
This pot pays the winner 19%, then in descending order, 16, 13, 11, 10, 9, 7, 6, 5 and 4 percent. Marussia’s share is just over $14m and again Caterham get zip.
That’s how it should work. However, Marussia had no commercial agreement with Ecclestone at the start of the year, but at the Indian GP Graham Lowden told SKY Sports, “We have signed an agreement between Marussia Formula 1 Team and the commercial rights holder, often termed the bilateral agreement, That means that all the teams on the grid now have signed these similar agreements. We’re very pleased we’ve reached agreement and it allows us to move forward.”
All the teams receive a mysterious and secretive ‘signing on fee’ (or the team owners do cf Eddie Jordan). Williams got theirs very early – the week after they parted company with Adam Parr. We don’t know what Marussia or Caterham were paid, but for the latter with no share of the F1 ‘teams prize fund’ from 2013 – next year looks bleak – with annual engine costs estimated around $17m.