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Sochi and F1 logistics (Updated 13:01)
Lotus not yet paid Raikkonen
Following the much publicised spat over the pit to car radio with Alan Parmane, Lotus director of trackside operations’, Kimi decided to make public comments on his gripe over non-payment by the team styating, “I’ve not had a euro this year”. He threatened not to race in Abu Dhabi and only arrived in the nick of time to participate in Friday’s Free Practice 1.
The venue which saw a great Raikkonen win in 2012 and coined a phrase or two was to be a huge disappointment for both the Finn and his team. As it turned out, an ageing Stirling Moss could have done no worse in the race, as Raikkonen’s misjudgement meant he was out at the first corner. Maybe his mind was elsewhere.
Some kind of arrangement was thrashed out prior to Abu Dhabi between the Finn and the Lotus team financer’s because Kimi told the media, “I came here only because hopefully we found an understanding on the certain issues we have been having.”
Of course Raikkonen then missed the Austin and Interlagos races following his decision to undergo necessary back surgery – earlier than was expected.
Finnish broadcaster MTV3 yesterday asked the representative of the owners of Lotus, Gerard Lopez, whether Kimi had now been paid. He replied, “Some of it, yes, we reached an agreement on the payment in Abu Dhabi.”
From a philosophical perspective, at least Kimi is sharing in the plight of many Lotus employees, who have been paid late consistently, and may even have to wait until the end of this month for their November and December remuneration.
Lopez admits there are cash problems and payments outstanding. “There have been delays. But the amounts that I have heard [reported] are completely ridiculous”.
Rumour has it Lotus are in fact in big trouble. Some mainstream F1 media are reporting the team has huge debts, but Lopez refutes this. “I will not go into detail, other than to say that the amounts we owe are not big. We will pay, just as we always have done,”
The debts are not large ie tens of millions, when the loans from Genii are excluded. However, the investors behind Genii are looking for an exit, and the cash they have used to fund the team so far has now reached the agreed limit.
It would take a change in the terms of the investment by all parties, for further advances to be made to Lotus, and that isn’t happening. This is why Quantum was afforded such obsequious favour and why Boullier appeared on TV doing an impression of a faithful Bernese mountain dog at the side of Mansoor Ijaz.
The bad news for the Lotus team is that the term prior to the repayment for some of the capital advanced by Genii has now expired. To begin making these repayments would seriously compromise their ability to compete as they did last year,
Rumours of a deeper Renault involvement in the Enstone team persisted throughout the year and indeed Gerard Lopez said in Spa, “We are discussing how to be closer with Renault, in whatever shape it is.”
Though with Red Bull’s preferential arrangements, the French car manufacturer is unlikely to be buying their works team back any time soon.
It may be dark times for the Lotus team, though on the bright side, the investors of Genii are unlikely to pull the plug completely – as this may see their ‘asset’ liquidated or sold for 1$.
A glimpse at Signor Spagnolo
TJ13 reported yesterday that Antonio Spagnolo will be Kimi Raikkonen’s race engineer for 2013. Not much is known of this younf gun, however, he did work on Alonso’s car this year. Here’s a couple of pictures to help us get into the mindset of SIgnor Spagnolo.
Kimi and Spagnolo will be reacquainted in no time.
Ferrari.com confirms they had a visit this week from, “someone who shares his nationality with the best loved Father Christmas by kids of all nationalities, given that according to legend, he operates out of a base right in the north of Finland”.
(God I miss Luca Colajanni… arrgh)
Today in Maranello, that other resident of Finland, Kimi Raikkonen was on hand to meet Stefano Domenicali and the senior engineers from the Scuderia. It was an opportunity to go over the current state of play on the design of the 2014 car, as well as a chance for Kimi to meet up with many old friends who, in a few weeks time will once again be his team”
Tomorrow there is a media lunch with Il Padrino, and whispers suggest the launch of the Ferrari 2014 engine.
Sochi and F1 logistics
It appears that even though the Winter Olympics in Sochi are due to begin in less than 2 months, there has been a logistical oversight for later in the year when F1 comes to town.
Whilst the teams ship certain items up to 8 weeks in advance to the flyaway venues, obviously the cars and key race equipment can only leave for a venue when they’ve finished at the previous race weekend.
FOM will have to ship 60 tonnes of equipment and 22 cars in its 6 Jumbo Jets as close to Sochi as possible, but the Sochi runway is too small to admit a 747 should it be raining.
For UK F1 fans the timing of this announcement may be slightly amusing. Yesterday we heard the latest in the 40 year old debate about extending Heathrow airport – which if agreed will take forever even if the solution were be to extend the Northern runway to facilitate simultaneous take off and landing.
It was during a recent meeting between FOM logistics and the race promoter the runway problem came to light and it will now need to be extended to 3.5km, several hundred metres longer than it is at present.
The difficulty will be that the only direction possible is across the river Mzymta.
Sochi is part of Russia’s Krasnodar Krai region and the nearest other large civilian airport is in Krasnodar, the regional capital. However, the longest runway at Krasnodar is again just 3km.
The closest airport capable of admitting 747 aircraft is in Mineralnye Vody which has a runway some 3,900 metres in length, though this is a 600km drive away.
This does rather beg the question whether the FIA scheduling of the Russian GP back to back after the Japanese GP means that Sochi must necessarily go to the expense of building a larger runway because there is not enough time to haul the 60 tonnes and cars the 600km by road from Mineralnye Vody.
Oleg Zabara is bullish. “Speed, team play, accuracy and calculation are required not only for Formula 1 teams, but also for specialists who organize the race. As a promoter of Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, we are responsible for the technical organization for the project. One of the top priorities is to ensure the equipment delivery and to organize effective logistics and operational customs clearance of cargoes. The infrastructure required is an important aspect – we are aware of our responsibility”.
Wow Olga… loving the can do attitude – tell that to the British government and Heathrow airport lobbyists….
Williams F1 competition
I know many of you abhor twitter which is of course fine. However, Williams F1 are running an amusing competition for their followers today which I thought you may enjoy. Guess the Williams F1 drivers from their hairline….
Answers on a self addressed and stamped post card 😉
Ferrari engine launch confirmed
Following the whisper we shared with you yesterday, Ferrari (12:30 GMT) have confirmed they will launch their bright and shiny new V6 Turbo F1 engine tomorrow at 14:00 CET.
Details to follow on how we may be able to view this
McLaren and the Mexican flag
McLaren were forced to tear down the Mexican flags they had flying outside their merchandising booths at the Grand Prix in Austin, following a complaint from the Mexican government.
The offense caused is clear below, as a cannabis leaf appears as part of North American nation’s emblem of sovereign identity.
The cock up is now clear. The supplier of flags to McLaren, had instructed an office hand to get them an image of the Mexican flag for reproduction. The intern found this image on the internet, not realising that it had been humorously doctored.
Prior to the mistake, the intern was believed to have a excellent prospects of a career ahead of them commercial side of F1.
Now, they may have even proved themselves capable of taking over from Ecclestone to run the whole sport.