Daily #F1 news and Comment: Monday 2nd December 2013

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PDVSA, TOTAL and Lotus F1 not such a strange partnership

Alonso appreciates his appreciation

Brawn to go fishing

Race of Champions cancelled

Pirelli December test for only 3 teams

Ferrari test V6 Turbo

TJ13 readers vote on mandatory pit stops

PDVSA, TOTAL and Lotus F1 not such a strange partnership

Friday Lotus F1 announced that they will field Maldonado and Grosjean for the 2014 season. While the drivers market was well and truly in “turmoil” and prior to this announcement TJ13 started an investigation to see how, if it happened, TOTAL and PDVSA could live together at Lotus due to Grosjean being backed by TOTAL.

It appears this will not be the first time TOTAL and PDVSA will be joining forces. In 2008 the two companies joined forces in a strategic association originally called Sincor. The company was then transferred to a Mixed Company setup, under the name of Petrocedeño, where PDVSA holds 60%, TOTAL 30.33% and Statoil 9.67 %. The Petrocedeño agreement has duration of 25 years starting in 2008.

Sincor (now Petrocedeño) was conceived as a project to improve extra-heavy crude oil from the Orinoco Belt area, the greatest accumulation of such resources in the world, and transform it into syncrude of a higher quality than Brent Blend reference crude.

After an investment of $5billion Petrocedeño is the most advanced and largest extra-heavy crude project in Venezuela, and represents the largest single private investment in this sector. This joint venture was not without it’s problems though and the injunctive actions against PDVSA by ExxonMobil in the UK courts caused concern by all parties.

But they made it work and for all the trouble the venture won an award in 2008 as “Best Deal of the Year 2008 – Restructuring”.

Back to Formula 1 and the question is how will this “new love” work for the two oil companies? Will they use the “Petrocedeno” name on the car or keep both TOTAL and PDVSA separate?

Depending on the heavy crude market and the location of the fields in the world TOTAL may want to use their sponsorship to grow their market and showcase their technology. It is 5 years down the line and all the glitches will have been sorted so this could be a very good move for TOTAL and used to acquire more joint ventures.

And who said the business side of Formula 1 was boring!


Alonso appreciates his appreciation

Fernando may be banned from tweeting anything about Ferrari for now, but to be fair until the rubber starts to fly from the tyres in 2014, there’s not a lot for him to say. He does appear to be taking great delight in posting to the world a private note sent to him by Dominecali.


Fernando enthusiastically recognises Stefano’s authority over him and responds…, “Grazie boss..;))) #ForzaFerari


Brawn to go fishing

In a candid Q&A, Niki Lauda speaks to German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine. He admits his arrival on the scene caused some comment from Brawn.

On Lauda’s first visit to the Brackley following his Stuttgart appointment as chairman of Mercedes AMG F1, Brawn asked him what actually he intended to do and “how often are you going to visit the factory?”

Lauda responded, “Why?…… Probably every day unti I get a feeling for how everything works”. Niki tells of how Brawn attempted to mark out his territory by telling the Austrian there and then he was better operating in a “self sufficient manner without interference from the corporate headquarters in Stuttgart”. Lauda states “within 5 minutes I made it clear” that is not how it was going to continue.

Yet Niki claims he was able to build bridges with Brawn and explained to him that his becoming a link between Stuttgart and Brackley would in fact be to Ross’s advantage stating once Brawn’s “scepticism had passed, he was fully on board with the idea”.

What will Ross Brawn will do next? Lauda claims that both he “and 700 employees” were told by Brawn that he “would like to do other things, that he would like to go fishing and spend time with his family. And he wants to make room for others on the team”. Lauda gives the impression this is what he really hopes Ross Brawn will actually be doing – but is not so sure.

When pressed on whether Brawn at McLaren or Ferrari would be a threat for Mercedes he was candid. “This man has won eight world titles in his career, only Adrian Newey is in this class of engineer. So when Ross takes another job in Formula 1, then I fully respect that – and everyone else will too”.

You get the feeling that Lauda rues Brawn’s leaving and would have given him another year fully in charge with the final say on all matters. To this end he marks the cards of both Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe.

“Toto is responsible for both financial and commercial matters and Paddy takes sole responsibility for technology. Both are equal and this has been made clear to all. With Ross leaving, I will being paying close attention to make sure there is no competence vacuum”.

Ooor errr. Look out boys… Niki’s watching you.

Toto owns 30% of the business; Lowe has no shareholding as far as we know. Lauda declaring them both as equal may not sit quite so well with Wolff as it does with Lowe.


Race of Champions cancelled

The Sports Authority of Thailand and the organisers of the 2013 Race Of Champions have announced that the event cannot take place as planned on December 14-15 due to the current political situation in Bangkok.

The organisers state, “Our thoughts are with the Thai people during this difficult period and we wish that a peaceful solution will soon be found. The Race Of Champions has been held all over the world for 25 consecutive years and we are currently looking at options of repeating the success of last year’s event in Bangkok on another date”.

Fans who have already purchased tickets for this year’s Race Of Champions will be reimbursed.

Earlier this year when Mr. E was floating the idea of an F1 race in Thailand, TJ13 was highly sceptical of the idea and was criticised for taking such a position. In fact an article published on TJ13 was read by a local resident who knew nothing of the planned race route through the centre of the ancient city and past many historic monuments.

Further, the planned route described would have passed within a few metres of a substantial residential area and realising this to be the, the residents case and lodged a protest. Very quickly the city centre route was abandoned and a number of other silly ideas over provincial locations were then floated, all without merit.

The current political unrest in Thailand has probably put pay to the Race of Champions returning in 2014, never mind an F1 weekend.

So who’s next in line to stake a claim for an F1 race???


Pirelli December test for only 3 teams

It appears that the December testing Pirelli requires has been agreen in principle if not unanimously. La Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that the Bahrain test, to be held between 17-19 December, will in fact be attended by three teams. Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull.

Ross Brawn said in Brazil, “It would be unfortunate if one team had the benefit of running a (2014) tyre to the exclusion of all the others.”

This is apparently fine though if 3 teams have the advantage over the others.

Lotus were offered a place at the test, but apparently declined citing financial reasons. This is rather strange since Pirelli were supposed to be paying for the test outright.

McLaren will not be among the select three, and although the data collected will be provided to all the other teams, La Gazetta is reporting teams excluded are unhappy over being locked out of this test and an advantage being handed to Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull.


Ferrari test V6 Turbo

TJ13 posted links to a video from Fiorino where some kind of ‘mule’ Ferrari was seen testing an engine which is clearly a turbo. The reaction here was mixed, some love the sound and others are not so sure.

However, this is not allowed within the regulations and the powers that be will be notified today. Ferrari’s response will apparently be that they are exploring a particular Turbo technology for use in their road cars as they are examining synergy with their new F1 project. Specifically there may be a turbo version of the California launched in 2014.

Click Link to Saturday’s news where video was published


TJ13 readers vote on mandatory pit stops

Last week we reported the F1 commision will be asked to consider legislating for 2 madatory ture change pit stops in 2014. Further another option may be to limit the maximum stints on each tyre – Prime (50% of race), Option (30%) race.

Willl Buxton was for mandatory stops but other media writers were not so sure – or against them.

Here TJ13 readers can have their say.

Brawn’s possible 2014 retirement in pictures…




45 responses to “Daily #F1 news and Comment: Monday 2nd December 2013

  1. Nice bit of investigative writing, it blows ya mind when you look at how intertwined F1 is within the much wider business world away from simply racing.

    • Indeed, perhaps if we knew this a few months ago, then we would have known that Maldonado to Lotus was already a done deal!

        • I guess they may have wanted Hulk but I remember a couple of people on here questioning how Total will take it is Mal/PDVSA joins and touted that as a reason why Mal won’t pitch up at Lotus… Well I guess that just shows nothing is impossible 🙂

          • Yes, I was one of them! so it goes! Nobody’s perfect! 😉
            however, this makes me believe that around the Monaco GP people at Lotus might have been toying with a Maldonado/Hulkenberg lineup for 2014…

  2. In the end, it seems that Lauda found someone he couldn’t boss around and mess the team. Not that this someone has left, I’m not so sure that Lowe has the gravitas to sit up and stick a sock in Lauda’s mouth. And I can see Wolff and Lauda lashing out at each other.
    I so so so hope that I’m wrong in all this and Merc really produce a championship-winning car. F1 needs Lewis in a competitive car, the same goes for Alonso too. Vettel already has one and McLaren…oh well, let’s leave it for 2015…

    • ” I’m not so sure that Lowe has the gravitas to sit up and stick a sock in Lauda’s mouth.” —

      not only this, but who from Merc is now going to be able to replace Ross on team radio ordering Nico to hold-station next time he’s threatening to flick Lewis, like Ross did…(where, in Bahrain, right?)?

  3. The situation now at Mercedes is indeed a bit weird. However Toto does not own 30%, he represents investors that own 30%, which is a bit different. I also find it weird that Lowe and Wolf are equally responsible, eventhough Wolf’s responsibilities amount to nothing more than ensuring there is enough money. Weird as he always seems to comment on racing operations etc.With Brawn gone as leader it is now very much a Germanic team and I doubt Paddy will survive this (imagine meetings between Lauda< Toto and Paddy where wolf and Lauda share a few jokes in German). They better hope Brawn has left them with a ready made receipt for a winning 2014 car or else they will all soon leave or be fired!

  4. Weren’t Ferrari again the turbo engines as they had no relevance to their roadcars? Going to be hard to persuade TPTB…

    Mind you, I personally can’t see the problem with being able to ‘shake down’ the engines in a car that is totally unrelated to F1 machinery so the manufacturer can check their engines without any benefit to the chassis side of the operation.

    • The problem will arise from the other teams protesting that Ferrari have gained an unfair advantage for testing their engines before Jerez. Possibly lead by Red Bull/Horner. Though I will not be surprised in the least if Renault and Mercedes haven’t also tested their engines in a similar fashion. Ferrari don’t much care for the test limits in F1, so I guess they could be seeing how far they can push things before the FIA starts yapping at them.

      • Oh, yes, I understand that it is illegal, my point was why this form of testing couldn’t be allowed. With a much more complicated powertrain and fewer engines allowed next year it would be of benefit to the fans if nothing else that proper testing could be done to make sure the engines will be reliable.

        • Or would it? Does near 100% reliability make it more interesting? That’s a question, not an answer, BTW.

          • No, I agree that some degree of chance improves the excitement – I remember the days of hoping Mansell’s car would actually make the finish for example – but you also don’t want engines that are supposed to last 3+ races barely making it through one.

          • No but a 10 place grid penalty in rough rotation (due to all engines being slightly fragile) to all the top drivers some think would be interesting.

        • The FIA rarely thinks logically about F1 in terms of testing. Though tbh this form of testing can only do so much. It’s a totally different ball game once you are in the heat of battle in a Grand Prix. The Powertrains are going to break in the early part of the season for a lot of different drivers. Though I guess the big challenge for the drivers is thinking about when to put the power down and when not to in order to ensure they have enough fuel to finish a race. That is a skill some drivers have and others don’t. I foresee Rocky having to scream at Vettel not to go for the fastest lap during races.

  5. Re- Lauda interview

    Who thinks we are going to start seeing senior team members sacked like footy managers for underperforming. This could start a trend with other teams too! Watch out Martin and Stefano……

      • I was just listening to an interview w/ Claire WIlliams via James Allen, however, and she said that even now as deputy team principal at WilliamsF1 (http://www.williamsf1.com/Team/AboutUs/Our-People/Claire-Williams/) her # 1 job and also the #1 responsibility of her dad (which she is obviously supporting him in meeting) is to secure sufficient budget for the team. She literally cited finding the money as the #1 goal and responsibility of the team princip (and deputy) and even gave an anecdote about how Sir Frank always quotes “Show me the money!” from Jerry McGuire movie…

        So maybe Toto’s job is more important than us plebs realize?

  6. I’d say enforce 2 pitstops but let the teams decide when.

    Pirelli can then build tyres that still fall off a cliff which means if the teams get it wrong then they will pay the price.

    I’ve long thought that pitstops don’t make racing but it’s part of getting round the track as quick as possible and gives the team something to do while their drivers are going round n round.

    That said, who can remember Massa leaving the pits with the fuel hose still attached or a car engulfed in flames… And if you are Williams F1… >£100k in fines for losing wheels 😛

    • The problem is teams will run simulations and since they won’t be afraid of others doing one less stop then the stops will be decided by engineers and all them will decide to stop at the same time which will lead to boring processional races with two stops that won’t mean anything.

    • Tá sé seo le beagán sláintiúil de seineafóibe nó díreach le beagán de spraoi?

      Maybe I’m a bit too Irish to understand correctly. Danke!

  7. Ferrari probably has the whole 2014 car powertrain and fuel cell under that modified 458 body. Just put a big muffler on the exhaust pipe and voila, free testing!

  8. Utterly ridiculous that the likes of McLaren aren’t allowed to join the tyre test! I forsee yet another lean year for them. Hopefully, Brawn can enjoy a years fishing and then come back 2015 to head up McLaren Honda!

  9. I’m a Mercedes (amongst others) fan, so here’s me playing devil’s advocate:

    If missing the YDT was such a harsh penalty (but from what I understand, MAMGF1 were still handed all the data from the other teams), then why are the other teams being “penalised” this time around?

    Shouldn’t the back markers really be doing this test, and the bigger teams “penalised” to level the playing field?

      • As TJ pointed out – Pirelli were supposed to be paying for it.

        So the back markers or even mid-field teams should have been able to go.

        What we’ve got is the factory teams being invited – and sod the rest.

    • “Shouldn’t the back markers really be doing this test, and the bigger teams “penalised” to level the playing field?”

      NO! nonononono…

      While I can empathize w/ what the OP is saying, please you must keep in mind that the Pirelli tire test is a tyre-development test to assist a major F1 sponsor in developing products that will be utilized by all of the teams equally in 2014 (that is, they’ll all have access to the same competition tires). The test ***IS NOT*** intended to address, correct, influence or remediate sporting concerns (like your claim of backmarker teams “needing” to have the bigger teams “penalised” in order to “level the playing field”)!!!

      Nevermind how objectionable it would be to implement a de facto handicapping system in F1 in the first place – this tire test has as it’s #1 purpose to assist Pirelli in developing the rubber all the teams will race on next year. And to that end, who else would Pirelli want to participate but the best, most elite teams on the grid…the ones who, in their judgment, would be the most effective testers for them?!

      They certainly don’t want Marussia or Caterham as their tire testers, and I wouldn’t blame ’em!

    • ” Mirror, mirror upon the wall, who’s the fastest of Them all ?”
      “Thou, my King, art the fastest of them all”

      Until one day:

      ” Mirror, mirror upon the wall, who’s the fastest of Them all ?”
      “Oh my King, though fast ye be, Kimi is more honest, far to see.”

    • Private note my a**.

      A private note would have been in Italian, which Alonso has, even though he occasionally claims not to understand Spanish.

      Another episode in the useless mind games played at Ferrari. What’s wrong with these guys when they need to continue this charade?

      • Adde, are you seeing this as internal mind games (mind games being played w/in the team by one Ferrari faction against another) or are these, to you, mind games that are being played by a unified Ferrari against external opponents (which could include other teams, drivers, sponsors, potential or former sponsors, and even segments of the media)?

        Please clarify, b/c w/o knowing which you mean, I hesitate to respond to your suggestion that the effort is “useless”.

        **”Another episode in the useless mind games played at Ferrari. What’s wrong with these guys when they need to continue this charade?”**


    • When I saw this note, I thought of it as a ‘goodbye’ note. Not sure for whom though, Domenicali or Alonso…or both?

  10. Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and finally got the courage
    to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx! Just
    wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic job!

  11. Regarding the most recent Horse Whisperer, PitPass today published a Christian Sylt comment / analysis that noted that Rencken may have misunderstood the Red Bull figures.

    Frankly, the PitPass article isn’t well edited, and so for a simple guy like myself, it’s not clear what he believes to be the total budget of Red Bull. If I’m reading their article correctly, the annual budget is £445m.

    This blog wrote about this particular Horse Whisperer last Tuesday, and it was enlightening. http://thejudge13.com/2013/11/26/daily-f1-news-and-comment-tuesday-26th-november-2013/#The%20Horse%20Whisper

    • I don’t know which article you are talking about, but from my end I had $445 as Red Bull’s total F1 spend, including Red Bull ($340m) and Toro Rosso ($105m), this from JS.

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