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Ferrari let the fans decide (09:27)
Lotus circumstances critical (10:32)
No launch for the W05 (10:45)
McLaren launch online UPDATED (18:28)
Ferrari let the fans decide
It’s that time of year again, the time where teams start rolling out their challengers for the coming season with much anticipation and fanfare. What is a car without a name though?
Ferrari are asking fans to name their challenger for 2014 and it appears there are a number of fans wanting some reference to Michael Schumacher included in the name of the new car.
The last time a car of the Scuderia carried reference to a person was in 2003 with the F2003 – GA, GA standing for Gianni Agnelli who passed away on the 24th January 2003.
Agnelli was an Italian industrialist and principal shareholder of Fiat. As the head of Fiat, he controlled 4.4% of Italy’s GDP, 3.1% of its industrial workforce and 16.5% of its industrial investment in research.
He was also the richest man in modern Italian history.
So what could it be, F2014 – MS? Or perhaps F1/7 – MS, referencing the 7 titles Schumacher had.
Confusion over Schumacher’s condition
There has been a flurry of news across Europe regarding Michael Schumacher’s improvement. Bild had been reporting the grim news that a brain scan had shown ‘catastrophic’ damage and commented that “it looked as though he had lost the fight for life”.
However, El Mundo quoted Sabine Kehm as stating, “The most dangerous moment has passed. This is a definitely a relief and for the family, the situation is calmer. This is the start of a long, long period, but thankfully less difficult now”. Kehm added, “The most dangerous moment has passed,”
SID news agency reports there has been a ‘slight improvement’ in Michael’s position and Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport says that the family have “heaved a sigh of relief”.
An official statement issued by the hospital in Grenoble revealed little more than previously. It it described Schumacher’s medical condition as “stable”. Though added “the medical team in charge of his care underlines that they continue to consider Michael’s condition as critical.”
Schumacher’s doctor in attendance was quoted as saying, “While we emphasise that the danger has not yet passed, it is certainly no longer acute.” Following this Sabine Kehm released a statement playing down earlier reports claiming that Michael was no longer in danger. “I cannot confirm any expressions that he is no longer in danger,” she said. “I refer you to the statement that was issued by the doctors.”
Despite the flurry of news – the actual doctors’ report clearly states, “no change”.
Corina Schumacher has appealed to the assembled media outside the Grenoble hospital saying, “It is important to me that the doctors and the hospital be left in peace to work – please trust their statements and leave the clinic.”
Many people find the thirst for news of Michael Schumacher’s condition unsavoury, however, love him or not, Michael Schumacher changed F1 forever – and this dark time brings about the stark realisation that nothing is forever – maybe even Formula 1 itself.
Lotus circumstances critical
The apparent saviour of the Enstone team – Pastor Maldonado with his $30m plus sponsorship – may in fact have added to Lotus woes. The Venezuelan’s sponsor insisted on a clause in the contract whereby Lotus must prove their financial stability before they receive a penny of the oil money.
Lotus requested a deferment of the Jerez test before Christmas, claiming the timeline was too tight. TJ13 has learned the team had no intention back then of spending the money on testing in the winter sun of southern Spain. Lotus confirmed yesterday they would not be attending the test.
Patrick Louis, the team’s chief executive has resigned and it was Louis whose leaked email back in November revealed to the world that the employees at Enstone should make arrangements to defer their monthly bank commitments because their salaries would be paid late.
The Enstone team have had to scale back in a number of areas to prove to Maldonado’s sponsors that they have a viable financial plan from the monies available in 2014 to complete the season. TJ13 believes this task is not yet complete, and that the Genii investors are again being asked to contribute for the coming year – something which had been made clear would not happen again.
Missing the first winter test is rarely positive for any of the teams who have taken this course of action. Further, it appears the team will not even run an older car in an attempt to benchmark the new Pirelli tyres – a sure sign this is about money and not the pace of the E22’s development.
No launch for the W05
Times are tough in F1 as already discussed above. Mercedes again plan no big glitz and glamour event for the reveal of the W05. It will wheeled out an hour before testing begins in Jerez on January 28th.
Ferrari have declared their hand on the unveiling of their 2014 car and Lotus will show us theirs at the Bahrain test. Red Bull are believed to be launching their car on Sunday 26th January in the UK prior to departing for Jerez – of course the car at the launch won’t be ‘real’ and the one on track a couple of days later.
McLaren are the silent ones at present. Martin Whitmarsh in inferred in December that there would be a big media event for the launch of the MP4-29 prior to Jerez where the new title sponsor would also be revealed. When that will be, as yet no one is saying.
McLaren launch online
After arguably one of the worst years in McLaren’s 50 year history, the team will launch their car for this year online again. This will be presumably be unveiled at the MTC with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen present.
The reveal will take place on January 24th at high noon, which will of course be between 4 and 7am in the USA. Mmm.
There is still silence on whether the event will simultaneously see a title sponsor announced, though rumours of a partnership with Sony have once again begun circulating.
UPDATE GMT 18:28 – McLaren just tweeted, “It’s coming….”
2014 last race venue selected for religious reasons
Bernie Ecclestone has revealed to the Wall Street journal that the reason Abu Dhabi has been selected as the last race of the season was to accommodate a religious festival. “Abu Dhabi is the last race for religious reasons because when the race was going to take place they are closed. It is because of this holiday business which changes all the time.”
So next year we may see the return of Interlagos as the seasons finale, something many F1 fans were sad to see lost this year.
In the same interview, Ecclestone slams the teams for opposing the double points for the final 3 races he proposed. “It didn’t go through so I said, ‘I know, let’s do one race’ and everybody went along with it.” Mr. E is clear that he believes in the concept and that it is an attempt to reduce the opportunity of one team or driver dominating the title races.
Ecclestone reflects ion 2013, “It was a non-championship. It lost TV interest, it lost a lot. If the last three races were double points the teams would say, ‘let’s see about this’. If Fernando wins two out of the three, then even if Sebastian is second, the championship is still going to run until the end.”
As TJ13 reported earlier last month, this is in fact just the thin end of the wedge and Ecclestone is determined to see the double points extended to further races. “The idea is to move it to three races maybe before 2015,” asserts the F1 supremo.
This may be facilitated at the next meeting of the F1 strategy group should the FIA and Ecclestone vote together.
Formula E on the strip
Here’s Lucas di Grassi at the wheel of the new Formula E car as he trundles along the famous Las Vegas Strip as part of the first public roadshow of the new fully-electric race car. http://www.fiaformulae.com