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Force India declaration UPDATE 13:09 GMT
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.
Force India declaration
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“
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“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.
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.
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”
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.