Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 12th December 2013

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Another law suit for Ecclestone

Force India declaration UPDATE 13:09 GMT

FIA seek another team

Stupid scoring in F1

1st class for Roscoe

FI damp squid


Another law suit for Ecclestone

There are some F1 media outlets commenting that the present case in the London High Courts, Constantin v Ecclestone, may deliver a decisive verdict in January which sees the immediate demise of F1’s Supremo.

This is not the case.

Constantin do in reality wish to reclaim some $100m they believe they were duped out of as part of Ecclestone’s deal to sell the F1 commercial rights to CV. They allege the $44m bribes paid to the German bank officer who held Constantin’s shares as collateral led to a subsequent below market value sale of their asset to CVC.

Ecclestone’s cause was significantly helped yesterday when it became apparent that Judge – Mr Justice Newey – stated, “I have to say I find the idea of a bribe being paid to get rid of the banks more plausible than the idea of a bribe being paid to undertake an arrangement under which shares were sold at an undervalue.”

Yet this is merely the first shots across the bows of the good ship Ecclestone. This trial has served its purpose already by providing the Munich prosecutors with additional documentation and evidence for their impending criminal lawsuit against Ecclestone for bribing a public banking official.

There is another case listed for 2014 in New York, by Bluewater Communications, who insist they offered a higher price than anyone else to buy the F1 commercial rights, but Ecclestone’s bribe ensured CVC won the bidding because they guaranteed his role as chief executive.

The Swiss authorities in the past 3 weeks have launched a criminal investigation into the actions of Eccleston’s financial dealings through the Bambino trust.

Today the German bank whose Commercial director took $44m from Ecclestone announced they are joining the litigation party. “We can confirm that BayernLB is working at high speed on civil charges against Mr Ecclestone and expects to file suit against him in the High Court in London in January 2014,” a spokesman for BayernLB said on Wednesday.

This suit is for some $400m. So as the Constantin case ends, another will begin.

Ecclestone is now being litigated against or investigated with a view to litigation by 5 separate parties. These legal challenges will be relentless, picking away at Ecclestone’s evidence and exposing incremental details. The collective end game is to conclude the tenure of F1’s most influential figure over the past 30 years.

Each case digs deeper and discloses further evidence which assists the other litigants and regardless of many peoples’ view that Ecclestone is untouchable. It really does look as though we are watching the beginning of the downfall of the architect of the modern Formula One.

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Force India declaration

Last night, Force India released some information viw twitter. “London calling! One day until @TheVijayMallya takes part in a very special media event in London… #2014StartsNow

So today we should expect the rotund one to be making a declaration of intent on Nico Hulkenberg’s stable mate for 2014. Di Resta will slope off to DTM from whence he came, and the feisty Mexican who solicited squeals of childlike complaints from Jenson on the car/pit radio will be appointed.

Of course, there is an outside possibility that ‘the very special media event’ could be that Vijay is withdrawing from F1 and has found a buyer to take on the Silverstone based team. A media event in London is not exactly would be expected as the venue for a driver announcement.

The Slim family has been interested in acquiring an F1 team for some time, so maybe a partial sale of Force India would provide them with a foot in the door.

Importantly, Force India should have another sponsor for the car, because as TJ13 has reported recently, funds from Mallya or Shara Roy may not be forthcoming. The Times reports, “It is yet another sign that Mallya’s empire is crumbling one company at a time,” 

Some have suggested the team’s last minute withdrawal is due to cash problems, though the team told Estado, “time is just too short to get there, unfortunately”.

Yet Force India are likely to be relatively stable for another season following their 6th place finish in the 2013 constructors’ championship. Hulkenberg’s explanation as to why he chosee Force India over Sauber and Lotus was very revealing.

He told Formula1.com, “During the later stages of the season I needed to make a decision on my future. Sahara Force India was able to give me the answers and the information I needed and wanted, [which was] different to other teams. I also really felt that they wanted me back and that they were pushing for that, so coming back was an easy decision to make”.

If Lotus falter, the Silverstone team in partnership with a Mercedes power train could in fact climb a place further in the constructors’ table by the end of 2014 – and finish 5th.

UPDATE: 13:09 GMT. Force India tweet now, “Announcement: our planned media event will not be taking place in the UK. #2014StartsNow

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FIA seek another team

Black and white, chalk and cheese, night and day, Vettel and integrity, Webber and dishonesty….. enough – I know…. but what the hell is going on in Paris? The place de Concorde has been a veritable slumberland for 4 long years whilst F1 is lurching toward another crisis of its own making.

Imagine the scene. “No more eating and drinking all day – enough is enough!!!”, Todt declares – thumping the table with his tightly clenched Gallic fist. “Our time has come…. our moment in history is knocking on the door…. We must arise from our garlic snails luncheon and sieze the day”.

Double points, 5 second penalties, no to 2 mandatory pit stops, agreeing a last minute tyre test, signing of 20 odd motorsports 2014 calendars, U-turns on cost reduction and now more talk of action from the FIA. This whirling dervish like organisation is moving quicker than we scribes can record their expressed intentions.

The FIA has just published a document entitled a, “call for expression of interest”. This is a simple call to anyone who wishes to wave goodbye to a vast number of large denomination bundles of dollars, to contact  the FIA Secretariat at legal@fia.com.

“The FIA has decided to open a new selection process to identify a candidate team to participate at a competitive level in the FIA Formula One World Championship from the start of the 2015 or the 2016 season up to 2020 inclusive.”

Those interested have until 3rd January 2014 to send $5,000 and a rough business plan on the back of a cigarette packet, followed by a full application and another $125,000 a mere 5 weeks later.

Then the process for evaluation and approval will include the FIA investigating

(a) the technical ability and resources of the team;
(b) the ability of the team to raise and maintain sufficient funding to allow participation in the Championship at a competitive level;
(c) the team’s experience and human resources;
(d) the FIA’s assessment of the value that the candidate may bring to the Championship as a whole.

Time is very short for this process. Just 3 weeks and 1 day to make a formal expression of interest and another 5 weeks to put together a coherent business plan.

TJ13 believes there is a new competitor with plenty of resource and capability ready to join F1 and is even now nominally pre-approved by the FIA.

Having incensed F1 fans with the double points idea, assuming we lose none of the present teams before 2015/16, the latest FIA initiative is akin to taking a large wet fish – say several kilos in weight – and repeatedly beating Bernie around the head with it.

His position is clear on how many teams he believes should be in F1. This month last year when rumours were growing that HRT would be going bust, Ecclestone commented, “I’d rather have 10 [teams]. I never wanted 12. It’s just that 10 is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have 10… so long as we don’t lose Ferrari.”

Many expected el presidente Todt once re-elected would again slide into his leader bound armchair and reminisce of the glory days when he ran Ferrari. So far, this has not been the case.

Then again – its all words at present – the action on cost caps, new teams etc is yet to be seen.

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Stupid scoring in F1

To be fair to the FIA, they are at least consistent and have been for some 60 years. This week the decision reviled by most F1 fans to award double points at the last race has dominated the F1 sites and social media.

Yet between 1950 and 1959, F1 points were awarded to drivers finishing from first to fifth place and were 8-6-4-3-2.

A point was also awarded to the driver with the fastest lap. However, timing systems were not as they are now in this meant that the 1954 British Grand Prix Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Mike Hawthorn, Jean Behra, Alberto Ascari and Onofre Marimon all set an equal fastest lap time

They were each awarded 0.14 of a point! To avoid this situation from 1960 onwards, the point for fastest lap was dropped.

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1st class for Roscoe

Not sure about the PR value of this but hey ho, Lewis tweets…

“”Roscoe&Coco flying 1st class, doing it big! That’s just how they roll,slept all the way. Best behaved dogs!My buddies”

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FI damp squid

Force India have confirmed that Sergio Perez has signed to drive for them in 2014 on a “multi-year deal”. Checo may have little faith in the alleged term of his contract as just over 12 months ago McLaren signed him declaring it was a “multi year deal”.

The team’s PR department milked the announcement trailing it as a media event in London and then later stating, “our planned media event will not be taking place in the UK”. The ‘big reveal’ was actually an anti climax as it was just a statement posted in the media section of the Force India website prior to a broadcast from the Mexican Embassy.

Vijay Mallya says of Checo, he is “very impressed with his recent performances”, then again he could hardly say he thought he was rubbish.

“By pairing Sergio alongside Nico, we enter the new season with an extremely competitive line-up, which will go toward helping us achieve our goals for the new season,” said Mallya. 

The love in continues as Perez states, “Coming here was always my first choice and I’m really happy everything has now been confirmed, This is a young team with a lot of determination and they’ve produced competitive cars for the last few years. It’s all change for next season with the new regulations, but I already have a good feeling about 2014.”

This of course means the Silverstone outfit have dumped both their 2013 drivers, and recent history would suggests double driver changes are not necessarily advantageous.

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48 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 12th December 2013

  1. Was Bluewater Communications the company that didn’t offer a fixed amount but “the same amount as the higher bidder plus and extra x%” to ensure they were the winners? I don’t remember very well the story, but I always found that interesting. That kind of bid is not taken seriously by many companies and in some cases it’s illegal to accept such propositions. Just curious.

    • Yes, that is exactly the case. They offered a percentage above the highest bona fide offer for the rights. Bernie dismissed the bid as not serious. Most likely, just an attempt to extort a settlement that would be less than attorneys fees (which can get rather exorbitant, particularly with lots of adjournments).

  2. It’s tough to get too righteous and happy-feeling about Bernie finally being held to account, since it’s just other financial & media elites and wealthy institutions who would benefit from any settlements. He can’t have many more years left anyway so he’ll escape w/o seeing the confiscation of his fortune, which he’s probably successfully distributed or otherwise protected anyway.

    idk..what do you guys think? Does Bernie deserve to be put through the wringer purely by people motivated by greed or what they perceive they lost by not making enough?

    I could get excited about legal action that challenged the sport’s governance and administration, stuff that if litigated successfully could make for a better sport in the future, whereas if these banks and other firms win against Bernie, they’d still have to collect and there wouldn’t be much immediate change since even CVC’s replacing Bernie wouldn’t invalidate the contracts he’s signed w/ teams and FIA on CVC’s behalf. It would still take an appeal to the European commission to invalidate the Strategy Group if nothing changes internally…

    • Things have to start somewhere Joe…. and when you deal as Ecclestone has done so for some 30 odd years – you cut a lot of people out of deals and they all want revenge….

      • They’ll want to hurt him by removing him as the defacto boss of F1, and I guess some have been patiently waiting for him to slip up before moving in for the kill as it were. I think this is a saga that’s going to dominate F1 in 2014 (especially if it’s another Vintage Vettel season). He’ll not go without a fight, and I suspect he’ll take as many people down with him as he can. That’s assuming the court cases go against him. Though whenever he does leave F1, it’s going to be quite dramatic. Unless they get somebody like Ross Brawn to run the show.

      • Yeah no for sure I agree things have to start somewhere…was just musing darkly at the time about what the real impact for fans would be…but then most fans probably aren’t that concerned about governance and more sophisticated questions like what we discuss here.

        One thing is for sure…I’m very glad I appeared in His Honor’s courtroom last year…it’s been fun & enjoyable following the proceedings! 😉

    • ..idk..why not? Is Bernie’s greed any different from theirs being money money money at the back of it all.

  3. Judge – I’m just assuming its a typo by your illustrious self in your haste to get the information out, that the FIA documents calls for expressions of interest by 3rd January 2013? but then again nothing would surprise me on accuracy in FIA documents……..

    • … rumbled…. My real job is to advise, prepare and publish all FIA legal documents….

      So no more bitchin’ bout spelling errors.. now you know 😉

  4. Just because Bayern Landes Bank decides to file their case in London In January 2014, doesn’t at mean that they will get Mr E into court in 2014 or indeed ever. The basis of their suit may well be deemed frivolous and/or without merit by the courts before any hearing even takes place. It would not be the first time that a potential litigant (especially a bank) makes such a play against someone who seems besieged by litigation in the stark hope that they may either benefit on a publicity basis (remember who is also considering charges against Mr E in Munich where BLB are based as well) or from a payoff to “go away”. I am not suggesting that BLB are doing it for these reasons but really guys, they should have been the first to issue a writ when the whole alleged “bribe” came out in the public domain. By doing this now, they look more the fool than an “aggrieved” party. Even if BLB get through discovery and pre-trial hearings, the chances that the matter will come to court in 2014 is very, very remote!

    • Thanks for that Graham…. some food for thought

      Though the fact that the criminal case in Munich is pretty much ready to go gives this application some weight….

      Further, as I wrote, the Munich prosecutes have been able to access documents they previously couldn’t due to the current Constantin London case..

      There’s more than a whiff of all this having a ‘discovery’ element to it – though I’m not suggesting all litigating parties are directly colluding – or are they?

  5. The only teams that will want to join this farce called F1 are surely going to be manufacturers? I cannot think billionaire playboys would rather start a new team than just buy up one of the financially challenged ones out there. Hopefully, it will be one of the VW group. I would especially like to see it branded Skoda, would be a real turn around for the brand I knew growing up!

    • ROFL Simon – Hamilton could yelp on the radio – “Hey man…. I’ve just been passed by a skoda”….

      Rumours from Italy suggest a Ferrari II – thought they would I suppose………

      • Alfa Romeo is not doing to well, a market share of less than 2% in Italy and only 0.6% in Europe.
        Montezemolo makes no secret of the fact that he would like to sell customer cars or even have a third car in his team, but most of all he would like a Ferrari ll team, where the FDA talents can grow.

        FIAT is looking for a platform to lift Alfa Romeo to a higher level, but entering F1 just to promote the Mito and Giulietta would be ridiculous.
        On the other hand, not so long ago Sergio marchionne and John Elkann stated that there are new and exciting Alfa Romeo models in the pipeline, and that they are looking for a very ambitious platform for Alfa Romeo to regain some of their old glory.

        Now DTM would be logical i think, but if Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Sergio Marchionne and John Elkann decide to enter a second Ferrari team and call it Alfa Romeo, i think i need at least two days to wake up from that dream 😉

        • I think it would be great to see the Alfa Romeo name back in F1. It’s one of the prestigious names from F1 history, and the more of those in the sport the better. F1 first has to keep Renault and Honda involved, as engine suppliers with a big history in F1. Now only Ford/Cosworth is currently missing of the historical big engine manufacturers.

          A twelfth team is also good for Ferrari engines, as Toro Rosso joined the Renault brigade. Honda could take a second team at some point, perhaps Lotus, perhaps not, but if it’s a Ferrari engined team (Marussia, following McLaren once Bianchi goes if the FDA youngsters are at Alfa), then it’s good to have the new team run Ferrari engines.

          I couldn’t think who else would be interested in this new team slot.. surely only manufacturers.. VW group? Renault/Honda staying as engines, BMW/Toyota unlikely to return just yet.. The way could be open for Alfa here, as after not getting Toro Rosso (I always thought that would be a good ready made possibility for Ferrari B team), if they could be Ferrari’s B-team (Ferrari could spend their extra money here too, if stopped from overspending by a budget cap like Red Bull would be, to grow young engineers etc. as RB do at Toro Rosso), they could be competitive from a new setup pretty quickly… fine place to put Marciello and Fuoco!

        • Alfa? Aren’t those cars which break down every time? Maybe we can add lancia to that list. There isn’t enough rust on the grid… now seriously. If there would be a manufacturer willing to join the big f1 circus it’ll be, due to new regulations, one with a good (current) history of turbocharged engines. And since WEC managed to leave the door open for f1 teams by bending their rules a bit, so that with a little adjustment the turbo 1.6 are regulated to participate in le mans (I’m not quite sure as lmp1 or 2 or gt car, and to lazy to look it up now.) My geuss would be it’s either audi or porsche. Two very strong companies with an even stronger mother. Both with immense racing history and know how. And a while back i read a statement of porsche that they are very interested in the new f1 engine. And since they are making a big effort of becoming the best in le mans maybe they’ll give it a go to in f1. I wouldn’t mind…

          • Audi were also very interested in the new F1 engines / powertrains.

            Until the rules were changed from a straight 4 to a V 6 ….

            And Porsche appear to be using a 2.0 litre straight 4 for their 2014 LMP 1 car – so that’s not compatible with F1.

            As for the WEC engine rules – basically they are totally free.

        • Besides Alfa Romeo, other Fiat stable-mates include Maserati, Lancia, and ummm… Chrysler.

          • LOL! Yes… well played!

            I’ve stopped short that list, which could also include, Jeep, Dodge, and a couple of sub-entitiies (Mopar, SRT, etc).

          • Maserati also has a good F1 heritage from the 1950’s..

            I did think of Chrysler, as that could be a way into getting US engagement and sponsorship to help fund the operation.. but I don’t know what cars they make, what part of the market they aim for or if they have a racing heritage etc.

            VW could come in with so many names… Audi, Porsche, Bugatti, Bentley (Le Mans)..

        • For 11 years I owned a spider 2000 from ’73.
          And I saw pictures of a new ‘alfetta’ …
          Let’s go!

        • are these new rumours, i heard stella was going to be the referee . . . i mean the conduit through which both sides of the garage communicate for the good of laFerrari

          • Kimi’s new engineer was described as, “Italian with a history of vodka love”.
            Since Andrea has worked with Kimi before (as his race engineer) and seems to be the only one who understands Kimi’s whispers in the headset, i was just putting 1 and 1 together 😉

    • @ Simon

      Since Skoda has a motorsport history twice as long as Ferrari – that would be nice.

    • To properly speculate as to who might be a new F1 team, we should note that if a major auto manufacturer were to come in, they may not be interested in running a motor with the badge of another major auto manufacture, (such as Honda, Mercedes, Renault, or Ferrari). A major auto manufacturer would more likely come in with both feet, financially speaking, as both a team and an engine manufacture. That would be surprising to see such a massive commitment.

      So who else?

      Perhaps there are some minor manufactures, who purchase motors from others for their road cars, (we already have the examples of Caterham and Marussia).

      Second, we should look at large successful teams existing in the junior formulas, particularly successful GP2 and World Series by Renault teams.

      Third, but not necesarily last, some sports car teams will have the advantage of building their own chassis, and refining their own aerodynamics, which may make the transition to F1 not too big a step.

      Besides the talent and tools, the thing that makes an F1 car faster is… money (in general). Auto manufacturers in F1 come and go, but they’re not the only companies that have the money and desire to sponsor an F1 team.

  6. Should we take note of the Judge in Mr. E’s case saying that he preferred “Bribe A” over “Bribe B”? That would seem to support the notion that he paid a bribe…which is the charge he faces in Germany. Is the fat lady taking off her coat?

    • Indeed, that is the nature of a bribe…

      Maybe someone who reads German could dig out the judges summing up comments in the Gribkowsky case, but I’m fairly certain the notion of a bribe was established back then.

      I’ve seen a couple of people getting excited that judge Newey’s comments in effect define this now as such….

  7. Won’t comment on my take on Lewis tweet but i’m surprised to see that he was allowed to take both of his dogs into what looks like Lufthansas 1st class cabin to me.
    As per their regulations they only allow for one small dog 10k€ for a first class long-haul ticket.
    But i’m a cat person anyway and know little about first class travel :).
    Shouldn’t be to cramped in there anyways.

    • Rich people are different. Notice the ‘Service Dog’ tag on the animal – that’s usually reserved for guide dogs for the visually impaired. I guess money does matter.

    • Didn’t Lewis buy or lease his own private jet or fractional ownership of a jet sometime w/in the past few years?

      I cannot imagine he’d be flying commercial anywhere.

      Is he getting hammered on “social media” for that pic? I hope not. Hardly seems like he’s trying to rub his wealth in the faces of those suffering during times of austerity. He just seems to really like his dogs!

  8. Something went wrong there.
    My comment was supposed to read:

    Won’t give my take on Lewis tweet but i’m surprised to see that he was allowed to take both of his dogs into what looks like Lufthansas 1st class cabin to me.
    As per their regulations they only allow for one small dog 10k€ for a first class long-haul ticket.
    But i’m a cat person anyway and know little about first class travel :).
    Shouldn’t be to cramped in there anyways.

  9. Something went wrong there.
    My comment was supposed to read:

    Won’t give my take on Lewis tweet but i’m surprised to see that he was allowed to take both of his dogs into what looks like Lufthansas 1st class cabin to me.
    As per their regulations they only allow for one small dog above 8kg per passenger
    (http://www.lufthansa.com/online/portal/lh/de/info_and_services/baggage?nodeid=1769643&l=en#ancAbT2)
    But looking at Roscoes (?) collar, he probably got him through as his “service animal” – with the positive side effect of avoiding the excess bagagge fee of 70€ per pet :).

    Personally, i wouldn’t have liked having 2 dogs next to my seat, especially if i paid more than 10k€ for a first class long-haul ticket.
    But i’m a cat person anyway and know little about first class travel :).
    Shouldn’t be to cramped in there anyways.

  10. What’s the line on Sutil’s lawsuit against FI vs. a transfer to Sauber?

    Dude was convinced he had a watertight contractually guaranteed spot on the grid for 2014…d’oh!

  11. I know its not been covered here yet, but have you read the latest on powertrain penalties that cant be served in one race, say if given a 10 place grid penalty but finish 6th from end, the remaining 4 grid places will be carried forward to next race – its just getting too complicated………also changes to unsafe release and penalty points on licences…..see link below

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/111838

    • I can see a few more Japan post-typhoon qualifying (2009?) from a few years back coming in 2014…

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