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What’s in a picture? (11:00)
Lotus face a gamble (11:00)
What’s in a picture?
What can you really read into a picture of a racing driver endorsing a product he probably doesn’t really believe in, but is only doing so in order to fulfill contractual duties? The short and simplistic answer would be very little.
TJ13’s man in Mexico, Adam Macdonald, believes quite a lot. Either the tequila is going to his head or there is something in this…you can be the judge…
— The most important part of this is the picture showing Perez endorsing Quaker State oil. A division of Royal Dutch Shell, it was a distinct link to Ferrari as well a being a significant sponsorship link to mainland Europe. TJ13 believed Carlos Slim to be trying to gain a foothold within Europe in telecommunications, before this move was blocked in late 2013. Soon after Perez was shown the door in a move that surprised many.
Perez being a Sauber driver in 2012 was made a very small deal of according to local contacts, which goes in line with the evidence above. Whilst he was seen advertising ‘Claro Video’ towards the back end of 2013 adorning McLaren overalls, other than this the fact he was driving for a world superpower in terms of sports cars and one of the pioneering Formula One teams was not emphasised to the people of Mexico.
Alternatively, Esteban Gutierrez could be (and still can be) seen with a beaming smile advertising TelCel on most streets at the phone stands. The advert which featured him in his fireproof all-in-one is prominent throughout Guadalajara, making him a very well known face in Mexico. This is even more strange, given that Perez was born and raised in Guadalajara with Gutierrez being from Monterrey.
One would expect that driving for McLaren would up a drivers’ reputation within their own nation, when in truth, this really was the complete opposite for Perez. If there is a genuine aim to get a Mexican GP on the grid then making the sport as high profile as possible is an absolute must for FOM/CVC. With arguably the country’s second biggest sports star (after Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez) fading into the background somewhat, it would be a less than ideal situation for Perez to have stayed there.
The photo, taken in the Mexican state of Puebla (for those with a particularly impressive knowledge of Mexican Geography – in Tehuacán), shows Perez with his oil sponsor since 2012 – Quaker State. Gutierrez inherited this sponsorship deal for 2013, as the restrictive corporate arrangements which Lewis Hamilton disliked so much were also the reins to Perez’s sponsorship freedom in 2013.
There is the Ferrari driver academy role which Perez gave up when joined McLaren to consider. A link to a Ferrari sponsor would have maintained that link had he sat out another year with Sauber, instead of making what looks to have been (on hindsight) a very poor move to the Woking based team. Il Padrino stated he didn’t think Perez was ready for a role with front team yet, and it appears he was correct. Had Perez have waited and gained another year of experience with Sauber, it could have been him replacing Massa for 2014 and not Raikkonen.
The move to Roshfrans means being part of a much more prominent organisation within Mexico. Having previously sponsored both IndyCar and NASCAR, the move into Formula One will be a new venture for the oil company. On a side note, is this one of the early signs of Formula One starting to conquer North America? An important oil brand wanting the global exposure of the worldwide F1 instead of just North American series.
Vijay Mallya had this to say on the subject, “As a global organisation, Roshfrans is ideally placed to take advantage of Formula One’s unparalleled reach to demonstrate its technical excellence and increase brand awareness.”
Perez will finally get to have the big influence on what the Force India car looks like which is what a sponsor really wants. Perhaps I read too much into a single picture, but for me getting away from McLaren will be a blessing in disguise for Perez. The freedom he will be allowed will be what was needed as he looks to rebuild after a difficult 2013. Furthermore, it will give his Mexican backers a year longer to get their European strategy on track – that is to say if they are targeting Europe.
And finally, in case you were wondering, the reason he’s called ‘Checo’ Perez is really quite simple. Anybody named Sergio in Mexico is given the nickname Checo. Another one of life’s mysteries solved.
Lotus face a gamble
With the new applicants for Formula One in 2015 been announced, with the most important of those being the potential American entry to the grid, it would appear that the tough economic climate is not putting people of from having a go at the sport. Anyone who has attended a race in the past 3 seasons will have witnessed first hand just how far off the pace the “new” teams are, which surely would be something to consider for applicants.
Ecclestone was the one who wanted 10 teams on the grid due to them being “easier to manage”, but with his seemingly imminent departure from the sport now the floodgates for change could open very soon. So where does this leave Lotus in all of this with their financial problems I hear you ask?
It seems rather simple from the outside. They could gamble their position, and continue to spend big money that they don’t really have on the basis that they will achieve a high finishing position in the Constructors’ Championship which will help to balance the books. The other option would be to rein in the spending and inevitably fall back into the midst of the midfield teams from where they broke away from in 2012/13.
Of course, the PDVSA will have certain agreements on spending written into legal contracts, but only spending what they can afford seems the most logical solution the Team Lotus worries. With such a big risk at stake of potentially going bankrupt, while a whole host of teams are waiting in the wings ready to replace the Enstone team if they were to fall away from the sport 2014 will be a pivotal year.
Lotus teamed up with French electrodance artist Daft Punk for the Monaco GP earlier this season, after the release of the song ‘Get Lucky.’ At times like these the famous words of Clint Eastwood spring to mind seeming most relevant, “Do you feel lucky….
Lotus punk? Well…. Do Ya?”