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Dr. Marko: We averted an even bigger disaster.
To say public reaction to the F1 Strategy Group’s idea of turning next year’s season ending race in Abu Dhabi into a WWF-style gimmick by awarding double points was devastating would be quite an understatement. Hours after the first media started running the news, the interwebs exploded with people wondering, who had managed to smuggle hallucinogenics into the meeting. But the sad news is, it’s not a rumour and according to Red Bull consultant Dr. Marko it is actually the light version of the lunacy.
According to Marko, the plan that was initially pitched was to award double points for the last four races, which effectively would have rendered the 15 races before that fairly pointless. There are no (double) points for guessing, who’s idea it was (hint: small, old, slightly useless at using revolving doors). Such an idea would have been the closest that F1 would come to a NASCAR like “chase”, which is universally hated by even the most devoted ol’ boys.
The Strategy Group consists of 18 members, 6 from FIA, 6 from FOM and six team representatives, which in turn are completely useless, because 10 votes are enough to wave through a plan. Even if not all of FIA and FOM’s people agree, they can still outvote the teams. Marko however hints that Mercedes and Ferrari actually voted yes on this piece of mental diarrhea, while Christian Horner and logically the three other representatives (Mclaren, Williams, Lotus) voted against. Why Ferrari and Mercedes think that a fourth place at Abu Dhabi should be worth just one single point less than a win at Monaco eludes my imagination. Perhaps the fact that they would have two more drivers titles (Massa 2008, Alonso 2012) had the system been in place earlier did sway the Scuderia, but I’m willing to believe that there is another, more palatable reason for their Aye vote.
Mark Watch: Porsche concludes 2013 testing program.
Porsche, who’ve been busy testing their 2014 Le Mans challenger all over Europe, concluded their testing program for 2013 at Portimao, Portugal and for the first time Mark Webber was behind the wheel of the camouflaged beast. Since he is still technically contracted to Red Bull Racing until Dec. 31st, Webber wore a neutral white overall, but RB had given the ok for him to start testing before the contract expires.
Pirelli Test: McLaren and Force India pull out
On Monday the FIA released a statement, which named six teams to take part in the late December Pirelli test at Bahrain: Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, Force India, McLaren and Toro Rosso. Sky Sports however reports that McLaren and Force India have backed out of it. McLaren confirms that they will not test at Bahrain, but give no further reason, while Force India cites time constraints. They say a 7 days notice is too short to ship their cars and tools over to Bahrain.
You’ve just gotta smile
“We need more testing… we need to test earlier in 2014… change the rules to allow us to test in January please FIA….” are just a few iterations of panic which has spewed from the teams this year. The FIA oblige and Jerez testing begins 28th January.
2 teams demanded the opportunity to attend the Pirelli test in Bahrain next week, but have since backed out due to tight schedules on the 2014 cars. Now TJ13 hears today that one major team is seriously considering skipping the Jerez test. At this moment in time, they just don’t know if the car will be ready to run in time.
UPDATE: Speedweek is reporting in addition that Lotus requested a postponement of the Jerez test during the F1 commission hearing on Monday. An unnamed team boss is quoted as saying, “Everyone knew the date for Jerez, and everyone made their plans accordingly. If someone is not ready, that is not anyone else’s problem.”
Di Resta prepares for DTM
During testimony in his legal battle with Anthony Hamilton, Paul di Resta admitted yesterday that he was probably on his way out of F1.
“They [Force India] may be interested [in retaining me], they may not. I believe they are in talks with Sergio Perez. It’s looking likely that I will not be driving.
The only team that really has any possibility is Sauber”, but the Scot revealed little had progressed with the Swiss team, “there has been nothing other than a chat with my manager. I am speaking to Mercedes-Benz for DTM.”
Sauber is an unlikely 2014 home for Paul, as they have options to recruit other drivers who will bring substantial financial backing.
Baby Vettel imminent
The news that Sebastian Vettel is to become a father has been around for some time. Yet today Bild reports that Vettel’s girlfriend is expecting within the next couple of weeks.
There was an amusing exchange at the Belgium GP drivers’ FIA press conference back in August when Vettel denied impending father hood when asked by Julien Febreau of Canal Plus, “Question to all of you except Romain Grosjean: do you feel ready to be a father?”
Seb replied with a grin, “Oof. I don’t know. Maybe. Obviously Romain is a father, so maybe he can comment on what made him think he’s ready or not. I think in the best case it doesn’t take too long to get the job done! I think in that case we are all ready!”
Loud guffaws were heard from the assembled media. Then JEV pitched in – clearly keen to ‘get it on’ but not for fatherhood. “Well, following what Seb says, I will be ready to do the job but not the rest”.
Sebastian had recently died his hair and Giedo van der Garde joined the fun. “I think when Seb does one he will have a nice boy or girl with the same hair. Just kidding. I don’t know. First of all, I’ve been with my girlfriend for quite a long time. We’re getting married this year and after that we will see what comes. I think we’ll wait for a few more years”.
The sniggering in the room had continued even though Giedo had attempted a serious response. Vettel declared to incremental amusement, “We are still in free practice!” and Bianchi added he was merely “practising!”
So when Seb jumps into an F1 car next he will be not just ‘the daddy’ of F1 drivers, but ‘a daddy’ too (boom boom). It looks as though as with everything he does, Sebastian has planned the timing of his first child with meticulous precision and the deed was done before ‘multi21’.
Lotus are back
The team that put the cool back into Kimi, and are known for their fun and irreverent frolics through the twittersphere had gone ominously silent for a week or so. They may have no money for testing or paying anyone, but they have persuaded their MC of social media PR to return. Here is their offering….
Webber tests P1 in Portugal
Porsche are set to take on the might of Audi and Toyota in the WES series category LP1 in 2014 and Mark Webber has this week had his first opportunity to test the prototype car at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal.
His first reaction was, “My first day in this fascinating project was an intense experience for me,”
Webber told the assembled media in Brazil he would be joining the Porsche programme with immediate effect even though under contract with RBR until 31st December. He added, “I would like to thank Red Bull Racing for giving me the chance to join the project so early. This is a major and important step for us all. It allows me to integrate with the team quicker and to contribute to further developing the LMP1 race car. We have a long way to go and it involves a lot of hard work. I have no misconceptions about this.”
There have been a number of rule changes for LMP1 in 2014 and now open-top LMP1 cars are now banned and drivers’ seating positions are to be raised and windscreen sizes increased to improve visibility. The width of the car has been reduced by 100mm and as in F1 wheel tethers must now be fitted.
FIA endurance commission president Lindsay Owen-Jones believes, “the ACO and the FIA have announced a unique set of extremely innovative technical regulations for 2014 that are in phase with the times we live in.
It should encourage the development of powerful and spectacular cars, and also the development of technologies that have real meaning for the everyday motorist.”
The most talked about changes have been related to fuel allowance and the energy recovery systems. The 500KJ limit will be raised to allow hybrid systems up to 8MJ. Cars with these power levels will be allowed 4.42 litres of petrol per lap (3.56l for diesels) and cars with 2MJ hybrid system will get 4.8 litres of petrol or 3.93 of diesel.
ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil believes it was vital that performance levels and easy to understand racing were maintained – despite the reductions in fuel.
“We hope to reduce fuel consumption by 30 per cent compared to current cars, with the same level of performance. The 24 Hours is a spectacle and we didn’t want to turn it into an economy run.
It’s important to allow drivers to go flat-out. From 2014, you’ll have to be quickest and have the best thermal energy. We hope that engineers will be able to express their creativeness. We want manufacturers so we have to give them guarantees, and private teams have to remain competitive on a budget.”
Mallya’s empire crumbles
Earlier this year, TJ13 reported on a deal Vijay Mallya did with Diagio which saw him lose control of United Spirits. Mallya was retained in a non-executive role by UK based spirits business who insisted upon bringing in a new executive management structure.
On Monday we reported the vultures had started to pick at the bones of another part of the Mallya empire – Kingfisher – as petitions to wind up the airline were accepted by the Indian High Court. The 17 Indian banks who have collateral for most of the $1.2bn debt – will be set lose next week to reposes assets promised to them as security for loans made.
Vijay’s sprawling villa in Goa became the sight of another legal battle for the Indian ex-billionaire. Last month SBICAP Trustee Company announced that it took possession of the palatial three-acre Kingfisher Villa at Condolim following them failing to receive payments ordered by the court.
Yesterday, Heineken – the 3rd largest brewer in the world – became the single largest shareholder in the once considered impervious United Breweries business. This was the company established by Vijay’s father and Mallya had insisted in 2012 that this business was safe and had not been used as collateral for other loans or group companies.
Based upon this information, it appeared Vijay had a refuge to which he could retreat that would continue to fund his lifestyle. This is clearly now not the case.
Heineken bought 1.3 percent of UB yesterday which had been pledged to Citicorp as collateral for a loan. As majority shareholders,Heineken is likely to act in a similar fashion to Diageo and want to bring in their own management. Maybe Vijay with get a face saving honorary position which has no executive power.