Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 6th March 2014

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India doomed

Nurburgring sold for up to EUR 70m (GMM)

Grosjean lost cool in Lotus garage (GMM)

Wolff would quit F1 to start family (GMM)

California dreaming

On this day – lite

Williams Martini Racing

Ron Dennis speaks

Red Bull Renault divorce? (GMM) +TJ13 Comment

Caption Competition

Rosberg race pace in Bahrain

Today’s pics from around the net

How many cars will finish in Australia – poll result


Editors note

You may have noticed the daily news is regularly being sponsored by Express Mortgages. Interestingly they are not just interested in acquiring a few UK based mortgage resident enquireies, but are promoting their ‘recommend a friend scheme”.

Having traded through the worst economic climate in mortgage land the UK has ever seen, our partners quickly discovered the best way to acquire new clients was to reward those who spread the word.

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We will soon be launching an offer which will see, for every 20 referrals made by TJ13 readers, not only will each person receive £100, but from each batch of 20 referrers, their names will go into a draw and the winning entrant will receive a £1,000 contribution towards tickets and the cost of attending a GP of their choice.

This is a 20/1 shot of winning a GP weekend tailored to your preferences.

The offer is now open, so referrals from TJ13 readers will already be recorded for the draw, we are just experiencing some small technical challenges getting the unique click through up and running which will service TJ13 referrals.

TJ13 will never flood our pages with pop ups and advertisements, but we are looking for partners like Express Mortgages, who will engage with our readers with prizes and offers, whilst they in turn receive some commercial benefit for their support.

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Join the TJ13 Predictor League

With just more than a week to go have you entered the TJ13 Castrol Predictor League yet?

prizes-playstation4-main2The Game and the Competition to win Prizes is currently open to residents of United Kingdom (“UK”) (excluding Northern Ireland the Republic of Ireland), South Africa, United States of America (“USA”), and Australia, Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Scoring the most points in the next race of the 2014 Formula 1 season could win you a Sony PlayStation 4 with five games and a PlayStation camera.

You have to be in it to win it!

Unique league link: http://gppredictor.com/league/join/code/6a70171018802287a2ef60e04396f1a0

Unique code to join this league: 6a70171018802287a2ef60e04396f1a0

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India doomed

Nothing in F1 at times appears to be what it claims to be. When the Indian GP opted for a sabbatical, it was claimed that this was due to scheduling. The promoters couldn’t afford a race this year in the Autumn, and then another in the new slot Ecclestone was insisting upon as part of the early 2014 season flyaways.

TJ13 reported at the time that the 25% ‘entertainment tax’ slapped on the promoters was killing their business plan. Some Indian politician had it in for Jaipur Sports and argued that F1 was entertainment and not sport, persuading the tax hungry Indian government to levy such a duty on the gate receipts for the F1 event.

Well the sabbatical notion has now been exposed as a lie. Ecclestone tells Reuters that, “At the moment, India won’t be on [the F1 calendar] for next year for sure. Probably 2016… they’re gradually getting over all the bureaucracy with the tax position inside the country and the general finance,”

The abolition of the 25% entertainment tax may yet prove not to be decisive, as the attendances for each F1 race weekend at the Buddh International Circuit have been in decline since the inaugural race in 2011.

Last year saw around half the number of paying spectators attend the event when compared to the inaugural year of the Indian GP. The likelihood of the Indian GP returning for this reason alone appears slim, regardless of whether the Indian authorities deign to make life easier for the promoters and the teams to put on what they deem to be ‘a show’.

Despite problems with the German legal authorities consuming a vast amount of Ecclestone’s focus, Bernie appears to have a crystal ball over what will happen between the Ukraine and Russia. “Don’t cancel”, was his advice to anyone with a flight booked to visit Sochi in October.

I realised today, having read Ecclestone’s comments, I’m getting bored of the charade that surrounds the F1 calendar. Its persistent intrigue, is wearing and in fact becoming tiresome.

As I began this piece stating, nothing in F1 appears to be what is claimed. This is the normative position regarding Ecclestone’s boring and now predictable on/off announcements over where the F1 world championship will be fought each year.

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Nurburgring sold for up to EUR 70m (GMM)

The Nurburgring looks to have been sold for between EUR 60 and 70 million. This week, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said he had been outbid for the fabled German grand prix venue, having offered “$50 million“.

Now, the leading business weekly Wirtschaftswoche reports that Miami-based private equity company HIG Capital was the high bidder, having pledged EUR 60-70m for the circuit, amusement park and nearby hotels.

The report said the Nurburgring trustee had actually wanted a three-digit million sum. HIG Capital declined to comment.

Asked if the Nurburgring will return to the calendar as scheduled next year, Ecclestone told Reuters: “It depends who buys it.”

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Grosjean lost cool in Lotus garage (GMM)

Romain Grosjean wasn’t his always-smiling self during one dramatic moment at the Bahrain tests last week.

Footage has emerged of the Frenchman angrily thumping the tool benches in the Lotus garage as he apparently discussed the new Renault-powered E22’s obvious problems with an engineer.

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Having sat out the first test at Jerez amid recent financial problems, the extent of Lotus’ situation with its troubled 2014 car became clear only in Bahrain.

Of course,” Frenchman Grosjean is quoted by Speed Week, “we are still far away from a good performance.

We need to understand the brake-by-wire system, the new power unit and charging the batteries and in these areas, it doesn’t look so good,” he admitted.

But together with Renault, we will work in the next two weeks until Melbourne to improve.

Asked how he will keep his ever-present smile on his face early in 2014, Grosjean answered: “Think of my son.

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Wolff would quit F1 to start family (GMM)

Susie Wolff has revealed that if she ever has children, she will quit motor racing. The wife of Mercedes boss Toto, 31-year-old Briton Wolff has stepped up her role with the Williams team this year.

She will get two chances to drive the FW36 in the Friday morning practice sessions at grands prix, at Silverstone and Hockenheim in July.

Competing in a formula one race has always been the ambition,” she told the Telegraph, “and as of last week I’m one big step closer.

I just need the chance. And I’ll do everything I can to make it happen.

In the male-dominated world of motor racing, Wolff has struggled at times to be taken seriously. Some think her burgeoning role at Williams smacks of little more than marketing.

There are far more deserving cases, male and female, who would merit the chance to drive in an F1 practice session,” Simon Arron, editor at Motor Sport magazine, is quoted by London’s Times newspaper.

Whether this is tied into any marketing programme, I don’t know, but she doesn’t have a record which suggests she should be near F1.

Former F1 race winner David Coulthard, however, said Wolff is definitely a top-level driver, having been beaten by her “more than once” in the German touring car series DTM.

Does she have that last bit of speed to make it as an F1 driver? I absolutely don’t know,” said Coulthard, a fellow Scot.

She will have her opportunity and if she delivers, she will continue. If she doesn’t she won’t — and we’ll all have the answer.

For how long Wolff will continue her racing career, however, is not clear. She admits that when the urge to become a mother overtakes her need for speed, she will quit.

I will never race again once that (starting a family) happens,” said Wolff.

I want to have kids and I know that when I do have them I have to have finished with this. Because I could never put myself at risk knowing that there is a child at home relying on me.

At the moment I love my life but I think that there will come a point where the need for a child will be greater than my need to race, so I’m just waiting for that moment,” she admitted.

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California dreaming

The inaugural Long Beach Grand Prix was held in 1975, and was a Formula 5000 event. The cars raced on the downtown streets of LA, and in 1976 the race became a Formula 1 event.

From 1977 F1 saw the introduction of Turbo engines, though unlike today, these powertrains competed alongside normally aspirated engines. Long Beach hosted F1 until 1983, but never once saw a turbo powered car take the chequered flag first.

Long Beach also was where the lowest ever starter on the grid, recorded a victory. In the final F1 meeting held here, John Watson in his McLaren started 22nd on the grid and went on to win the race. 22nd is still the lowest starting position to win an F1 race.

CART/Champ car/Indycar have raced at the Long Beach GP since 1984 but their contract expires in 2015.  Mr. E has been making overtures towards the Long Beach city council which would see F1 return to the streets of LA.

Yesterday the council met in a closed session on to discuss whether to extend the current contract held by the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, which runs the IndyCar event, or to open it to a potential F1 return led by Long Beach race founder Chris Pook.

The council was split on how to proceed, and so further representations will be required from Formula 1 before the matter returns to the agenda.

Were Formula 1 to return to Long Beach, the circuit and facilities would require a significant upgrade, so who would pay for that is not yet clear. From Ecclestone’s perspective, it would be easier and probably more profitable to take the oodles of oil dosh from Azerbaijan. Though in a world where the next ‘potential’ F1 race host city is used to intimidate a current venue looking for a better deal, Calafornia Dreamin’ is a most useful past time.

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On this day – lite

This man won, what, where and when?

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Williams Martini Racing

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As expected, today Williams announce a new title sponsor and the historic Martini Racing livery returns to F1.

Martini’s first F1 association was with a rather poor Italian entrant called Tecno in 1972. After 2 unsuccessful seasons, Martini withdrew.

Brabham were the next partner’s for the Italian vermouth producer, and in 1975 the Cosworth powered BT44B saw the livery set on a white background. Brabham changed engine supplier and ran in 1976-77 with the Alpha flat V12 and the colour scheme changed to a Rosso background.

Martini jumped ship in 1979 to the title winning team of the previous year, Lotus, though they didn’t achieve a single victory despite their livery being chauffeured by Mario Andretti. Martini withdrew from F1 until 2006 when they appeared on the Scuderia Ferrari as a minor presence.

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Now Martini are back, and back in a big way.

“We are thrilled to welcome MARTINI to the Williams family and officially launch WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING,” said Sir Frank Williams “Williams and Martini share a rich history in the world of motorsport, and the values of our two brands and our shared passion for racing make this partnership a natural fit. It will be great to see the distinctive stripes of Martini Racing™ return to Formula One™ once again in unison with Williams.”

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As always at these occasions, the love in was reciprocated accordingly.

“The decision to partner with Williams was a natural one for us as it provides an unparalleled opportunity for the MARTINI brand to connect with consumers through one of their lifestyle passions, Formula One™ racing,” said Andy Gibson, Chief Marketing Officer of Bacardi and President of Bacardi Global Brands, who oversees marketing for Martini’s other premium brands in the Bacardi portfolio. “Martini will give consumers a taste of life in the fast lane, bringing a renewed sense of Italian style and glamour to the track and beyond. WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING provides a powerful, integrated marketing platform and delivers dynamic opportunities that will strengthen the MArtini brand.”

You can now find advice on cocktails and recipes on the Williams F1 team’s website.

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Ron Dennis speaks

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When certain team bosses speak all I hear is “Yeah…no”, followed by a load of contradictory PR gobble-de-gook which is designed to be seen to be saying something, yet in fact saying nothing at all. Not Big Ron.

For many there was a coup d’état in leafy Woking back in January, as Ron Dennis assumed control of the entire McLaren group as CEO. He promised a review of the team and its structure and personnel and that an announcement would be made regarding the team principal today.

Predictably, Dennis has delivered a barnstorming call to arms from his troops today, and he began by outlining where he believes the company is at following his review.

Step up, or move on

“As I said to everybody some time ago, if everyone matches my own passion, commitment and focus then we will most definitely win. The company was a little unfit and it needs to get fit. There’s pain to getting fit and so hopefully everybody has got the right mindset – and that’s what it’s about, mindset – to understand what we expect of each other and what I expect of them.”

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The old attitude of not suffering fools gladly is clearly still burning in the British Entrepreneur’s soul as he makes it clear his people will have to step up to the plate.

“It takes people time to understand what is expected of them and if they don’t get there then they won’t be with the company. But I will give everybody plenty of messages what I expect out of them and if they get the message then fine, and if they don’t get the message then move on. It will take time to get to where I want to be.”

Martin Whitmarsh

Specifically Denis refused to comment on Martin Whitmarsh’s future, he did though reveal. “”I appointed Martin to this company 20 odd years ago, and he has been alongside me for those 20 years. He is a friend and he has always been a friend.

The situation is 100 per cent between him and me until its resolution. I know I am tough, I know people have different opinions of how I run companies and how I function, and people see my attention to detail as a negative.

But I see it as a positive. And one thing I am is very principled, and the behaviour of this company to its employees is exceptional. There is a way to do things, and I have to lead by example to everybody.

Boullier approached by Whitmarsh

Whitmarsh has been retired from the racing team, and Boullier brought into a role called “Racing Director”, which has led to speculation that Ross Brawn may yet be recruited by McLaren, though the terms of his garden leave may prevent this at present.

It appears Whitmarsh instigated contact between McLaren and Eric Boullier, as Dennis reveals. “Strangely enough outside of the company, meaning not in any capacity, I made contact. Pretty much in parallel Martin made contact, so there was a bit of overlap”.

As TJ13 reported in the face of the “ousted” headlines, Martin Whitmarsh knew what was coming. “For some time I have been discussing with the shareholders and with everybody that this is not working. So inevitably Martin had to face the facts and it was not working. It is not surprising that there was a change”.

Relationships frosty with Mercedes?

The announcement that McLaren is leaving the Mercedes stable for a Honda engine in 2015 has led a number of commentators to believe this will be a difficult year for relationships between Brixworth and Woking. Dennis is candid, “Being open and being committed I think is the best environment in which we can work with Mercedes, and that’s how we will continue,”

We will win, I believe we will win races this year. I really believe that. How many we can win I don’t know, how quickly we can win I don’t know, but the focus and commitment that I’ve given to that part of the company is huge, but not to the detriment to the growth of the rest of the group”.

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Ron’s seen it all before

Big Ron’s impact

The big question is, has Ron Dennis’ presence already been felt within the team? Jenson tells SKY, “Yes, and I think in a good way. He is quite an unusual character Ron, I have a lot of respect for what he has done in the sport – this team wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Ron. 

I think everyone is excited, he is looking forward to this challenge and it gives everyone a lot more confidence within the team. 

So yes, I think him being back at the team is very important for the future of McLaren.”

Title sponsor

McLaren will start the season for the first time since the days of Yardley with no title sponsor, though Dennis claims this will not be the case for long.

 “Our cars will not feature a title sponsor at the first event, but it will definitely feature a title sponsor in the next few events. Why? Because I strongly believe we are [the] Manchester United [of F1].”

Rumours of Sony becoming McLaren’s new title sponsor have grown in recent months, though a deal has been tough to get done as Lotus were pitching to the same prospect and asking for a smaller investment.

Dennis is adamant, “Inevitably, when you have a run of poor results people push the rate card down. But I won’t accept that. I know what this company is. I know what this Grand Prix team can achieve and that requires the correct recognition when it comes to the commercial relationship with the principal sponsor”.

Cost cap

In usual Dennis style he ridicules the idea of a cost cap, describing at as “almost impossible” to achieve. He points out the irony of the situation which sees the same people who have forced F1 to create the most expensive engines in motorsport history, are now suggesting the teams spend less. “It’s pie in the sky. People spend what they have. If you can’t afford to be in F1, don’t be in F1.”

There’s still someone else to recruit

Jonathan Neale remains as temporary CEO of the racing team and Dennis confirms, “Jonathan absolutely accepts that he is nominated on a day to day basis but effectively not only would he love to have the job, but he may well do the job. Whoever may or may not be considered for that position, it will be against his [Neale’s] abilities and his commitment and whatever the situation is at that moment of time”.

The old British bulldog clearly has plans which as yet cannot be revealed. “The key thing to understand is that supplementing Jonathan’s, Eric’s and Sam’s (Michael) capabilities with my own, for a short period of time, is adequately going to address the challenge of winning in F1.

That choice of person is critical to the long term future of the company and I will take my time.

Ultimately with such an important decision, it will not be mine and mine alone. I would expect to share that with the shareholders and key individuals. It is not at the moment at the top of my must do list. I am comfortable with what we have in place at the moment.”

Big Ron, boss of the garage for now

The role of team CEO will eventually supersede the role of team principal at McLaren because Ron explains for the duration of “the first four races this year, the team doesn’t come back. With the former role of team principal, it was like being out of the company for four months. I defy anyone to run a company and have four months out of the company.”

Dennis is identifying a potential breakdown in communication between the ‘head honcho’ away in Asia and the necessary link required during with the base back in Woking.

So Big Ron is back in charge of the race team in all but title, despite all his denials, and will be with the team for the season opening flyaway races. “We have tremendous competence and I am fully involved in the moment… But I won’t be active at the circuit – I will be there to observe.”

Haha… (hushed commentary voice) “Ron Dennis is quietly observing the proceedings in the garage… but ultimately keeps his own counsel!!!”

Pull the other one 😉

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Red Bull Renault divorce? (GMM)

Inevitably, as the scale of Red Bull’s early season crisis becomes ever clearer, rumours of possible splits are now beginning to emerge.

Many of the reigning world champions’ problems are undoubtedly down to engine supplier Renault and the French marque’s struggle with the new V6 ‘power unit’ rules.

So it is no surprise Red Bull, having won every title on offer since 2010 and every grand prix on the trot since last July, is supposedly on the move.

But team boss Christian Horner on Thursday played down rumours of a switch to Honda, the incoming works supplier of turbo engines to McLaren next year.

It is said Honda is the logical choice for Red Bull, given the fact F1’s existing engine suppliers, Mercedes and Ferrari, are arch rivals.

But Horner insisted: “There’s still a huge amount of trust (between Red Bull and Renault).

“We’re certainly not looking outside the current agreement we have,” he told the Telegraph.

Also rumoured to be eyeing greener grass is world champion Sebastian Vettel, despite Red Bull playing down rumours he recently threw a “hissy fit” when he realised the extent of the team’s 2014 problems.

But with Red Bull so obviously struggling, the Ferrari rumours were never going to be far down the road.

Vettel insists: “I’m not a guy who runs away when it gets difficult. That’s the case both in my work and privately.

“Of course there are always those who want to tell you the grass is greener somewhere else, but we shouldn’t forget the values of honesty, loyalty, the handshake.

“This should apply especially when things are not going your way,” he added.

Vettel said he refuses to pin all the blame on Renault.

“Everyone has in the past made their mistakes,” said the German, “but we are a team that in the last few years has had so much success and now we are sticking together.”

He said he is not setting any goals or even expecting the worst next weekend in Australia, where many pundits are tipping a struggle for Vettel to emerge even from the ‘Q1’ qualifying segment.

“Once we are there,” said Vettel, “we will do the best job we can and then adjust our goals accordingly.

“If we are competitive, of course I want to win again,” he told Germany’s Sport Bild. “But at the moment it makes no sense even to talk about the title.”

TJ13 comment: The Vettel ‘hissy fit’ story originated with Andrew Benson from the BBC. It has been denied by Red Bull via official and unofficial channels, yet the problem is that Helmut Marko added flames to the fire when speaking in the German media last week.

When asked about Vettel’s mood at present he replied the quadruple title winner was, “not amused” that Red Bull is “so far behind”. Adding without prompt, “But getting angry won’t bring us anything. Sebastian is always informed of any developments.”

So Seb’s not amused, but not angry? Of course amusement and anger are not opposite ends of a linear scale, but come on – the lad is seriously hacked off with someone.

Many people talk about Vettel needing to drive for another team before we can call him great. Vettel driving in an uncompetitive car will also reveal a great deal about the man over the next few weeks.

Vettel speaks well today, but if he finishes a lap down in Australia, what will we hear from him then? Lewis has revealed himself to us aplenty, unlike the carefully managed and private Seb. Huge frustration and disappointment may well open a chink in the young German’s well veneered façade, and then we’ll see what’s really inside.

On the Renault/Red Bull split.. this is ridiculous. Who is writing this stuff? There may be severe finger pointing (hehe) going on, and relationships may be very strained. But Red Bull have nowhere else to go.

Ferrari and Mercedes will not offer an engine to Red Bull. Honda are locked down with McLaren exclusivity for at least 1 year – and TJ13 reported at the time the McLaren/Honda linkup was announced, the Woking team had negotiated a clause excluding Honda supplying Red Bull for the duration of their contract with the Japanese manufacturer.

Hey… this is the partnership bringing 4 consecutive WDC’s and four consecutive WCC’s – give me a break.

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Caption Competition

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Rosberg race pace in Bahrain

Lorenzo dug this up and tweeted it

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Today’s pics from around the net

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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How many cars will finish in Australia

Our recent pole saw an unprecedented number of you taking part. Here are the results

0-5                   2%

6-10                 20%

11-15               56%

16-20               20%

Over 21           1%

The top 5 results were

14                    16%

12                    16%

16                    12%

13                    9%

15                    8%

11 which would be half the field was 7%

Fascinating how sceptical you all are following Lauda and Marko’s comments that half the field at least would DNF.

What the hell do they know anyway 😉

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72 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Thursday 6th March 2014

  1. Re: Indian GP – My views are pretty well known to you, your honour. Let me add a few more. A new government is more than likely. Elections are due to be held this apr/may and new assembly will be sworn in by june. And the person who will most likely be prime minister is supposed to be pro-business. That might make it easy for F1 to get things done in a timebound manner. But if they expect the govt to be on their knees and feel grateful for F1 bringing in money and tourists, they might as well go someplace else. This view apparently doesn’t seem to be a minority view within F1 from what I, an outsider see. Comments from Darren Heath for ex – “Pollution, visas, pollution, corruption, pollution, visas, asthma inhalers, pollution, short of breath… #F1 India” This sort of nonsense is pretty widespread. I don’t want to go on and list off other countries and their problems or how it is a bit rich coming from a brit. Anyways. Thing that brings a chuckle to most indians is how their bureaucracy can make even the Vogons feel exasperated, although not when they have to feel the effects. F1 isn’t going to bring in too many additional tourists in via New Delhi which is already the primary landing point for almost all foreign tourists who plan on seeing a bit of north india. If anything I’d say New Delhi is barely able to handle all that traffic. Not to mention the entire F1 circus is there for a bit less than a week and sees nothing but airport, hotel and track. Kinda makes you think what they’re talking about while referring to a pretty large population and country.

    Working out these other problems don’t negate a few basic problems with the race and track though. Position in the calendar until now meant one certainty, a red bull/seb win and made for some awful racing and viewing. Not to mention the fact that a end of the year race also meant terrible fog amplifying the pollution levels. Delhi and surrounds have always had the fog problem, even before its gigantic vehicular pollution of the recent decade and a half. So it makes for terrible TV too. And of course the location of the track itself. Oh well. On to another country where bernie’s short term money grab leaves a disused track and a fan base yearning for more. Turkey anyone?
    /holy wall of text batman!

    • ….all excellent points – and I agree with much of what you say.

      I’m just not sure even were the entertainment tax lifted, it is viable with such diminished attendances.

  2. Supping with the devil, now, eh?. Sad that the love of wonga blinds people to moral values. Mortgage brokers are worse than the parasite casino city bankers, worse even than the rulers of Bahrain.

  3. I’m getting a bit worried about Herr Finger, has anyone heard how RBR’s filming day(s?) went? Did they get lots of quality mileage… sorry, footage?

  4. Suzie Wolff……thats how to kill your career dead in its tracks. If I was her I’d cone off the pill now cos she is never gonna get a race drive! When you consider that Kyvatt is only 19 and K-mag 21, then surely she can see the writing on the wall already. If she was that much of a red hot driver she would already have a race seat, the teams may be fickle but show them a fast enough driver and won’t care what foes or doesn’t hang between their legs.

    • You’re probably right… But at least she’s upfront in stating she just wants to do a race in F1, not even a full season, let alone win the WDC… So, it’s still a pretty realistic goal, as far as these things go…

    • Tomas pudding would have the same effect of making an F1 cockpit a little squeezy.

    • Can we not have this debate again?

      I think we all (rational people) agree that Suzie Wolff does not have the talent or ability to race in F1 and is only there b/c she has a vagina and a husband who’s a team owner and F1 business director.

  5. That Williams is a grrrrrrrreat looking car, dare I say the nicest on the grid. Even the nose is acceptable in those colours.

    • It does look good, but still lots of blank space on the sides……….. What percentage did Martini buy?

  6. On Suzie: “Wolff will continue her racing career”
    I don’t want to appear unkind, because the thought of a woman winning the Monaco GP is one of the few joys left unheeded in my life, but can anyone inform me what ELSE Wolff does… because two Friday appearances in an entire year combined with however much simulation time is foist upon her does NOT constitute a “racing” career…
    I feel very sorry for the youngsters who get taken on for just this sort of job, just so the Teams can STEAL their sponsorship funds, and after a year or two can get thrown out, their F1 career over.
    For most of these Friday / Test / Development / Simulation drivers their F1 career ends as soon as they sign up for this criminal (IMHO) deal.
    [NB: end of brief rant. 😉 ]

    • I´ve seen much better liveries suggested from amateurs than this boring one!

      • Post them please.

        I’d sincerely like to see amatuers create an iconic, simple, almost spartan, but classy livery ready to incorporate other partners…

        Heads up: if it’s that Red Bull ultimate random sticker book look, don’t bother.

  7. On this day – lite
    The great Mario Andretti, South African GP (Kyalami)
    I am assuming 6th March 1971 (the clue is in the title!!)

      • Ok. I was busy at work when I first saw this and was huh? Now I’ve had about ten beers and am finally at home – read it once and now it’s oh duh! Beer is good for the brain – the Hippo will agree, I’m sure. Minus 7 days and counting (let’s have a NASA countdown your honour).

  8. ?
    Vodaphone McLaren Mercedes
    Williams Martini Racing
    Will all tables now show Martini instead of Williams? Probably not but I thought there was a naming convention in place.

  9. Couple of interesting comments from Symonds via autosport:

    “We had one gearbox go way beyond its mileage…”

    “I can’t underplay the role that Mercedes has taken in achieving what we have achieved pre-season…The reliability of the most complex new part of the car has just been exceptional.”

    Same engine as Mercedes; better gearbox ?

    • Williams have always been good at producing gearboxes in house. I saw a few engineers working on the gear cogs (checking them again and again for flaws etc) when I went on a tour of the Williams F1 factory. The attention to detail in the factory is impressive, they’ve just lacked the right engineering leadership, which they appear to now have. onwards and upwards for Williams. The front noses I was allowed to touch and look at were beautiful things. The Newey designed cars were also impressive, along with Senna’s test car. That gave me goosebumps.

  10. Agree with others about the livery, btw.
    Was (really) quite excited by the prospect – several of my all time favourites are Martini liveries – but this is a bit meh.

    Doesn’t respect the form of the car.

  11. A title sponsor who’s signage is almost invisible. Contrast that with Ferrari where the title sponsor, Santander, has on a side view, four distinct logo’s. Williams must be desperate for any well know company to sponsor them.

    • Err, seen them stripes cav? Everybody knows that livery. That’s like saying Ferrari is almost visible, because of all the red paint takes the focus off the logo 😉

    • Not sure that it’s fair to call Williams ” desperate” for sponsorship. You might want to reconsider such unfair position.

      Besides, Martini co. will have signed off on the livery – or at least the specs for size, placement and other details of their logo. So if they’re content with the deal, why slag Williams for signing Martini?

      And if they add additional sponsorship, that can only be good for F1 if more companies are persuaded to become involved by Martini’s association w/ Williams…

      • You’re right, Joe. If the Williams performs half as well during races as it did during testing then by Monaco there should be a few extra logos adorning it.

  12. Frankly deceived by Martini livery on that Williams. And, man, I got shivers on my spine when some mock-ups were posted in this same website a couple of weeks ago.

  13. “I will never race again once that (starting a family) happens”. And THAT is why no one will ever hire a woman to be a F1 driver to the capacity required to be a world champion. And if you’re not striving to be world champion, why race? It takes lifelong determination and years of dedication to achieve the highest goals in F1. With that statement, Susie Wolff just did a tremendous amount of harm to all upcoming female drivers in any class of racing. It truly shows a lack of intelligence and situational awareness. I fully support female drivers equally as men but I’m not the one writing the checks.

    • I don’t see why that comment should harm all female drivers. Some might not want a family. Seems a bit sexist to say a woman won’t be any good just because she she has the potential to have babies.
      In the case of Susie Wolff, it does seem like a bit of a PR exercise though really. Her career in DTM isn’t worth writing home about, so I think it is still the impact of Toto and Williams wanting the good PR of having a female driver. I think the fact that Susie Wolff isn’t a great driver but is clearly there because her husband had a strong say in the team does more damage to the credibility of woman drivers than her comments do to be honest.

    • Or possibly, given the rare nature of F1 drivers who persist well into their 40’s (or 30’s for that matter), she will retire from competition once her motivation starts to wane/sponsors run out, as have numerous competitors and champions from all sport, and then start her family.

      Of course, being men, they were not slagged mercilessly for it (we’ve heard “spend more time with the family” enough that it’s practically a joke, but a very true sentiment for many) and I find it a reasonable to not wish to engage in such dangerous activities once one has started a family.

      Deciding that one can’t race at some random time in the future doesn’t mean that one can’t devote one’s full efforts to the task at hand. It’s a faux non-controversy and sad that she can’t simply say what she thinks without immediately being denigrated for it.

      In fact it’s ridiculous, TBH, that this is even any kind of news at all. Some women have a kid and go back to work, some don’t. Others might change jobs or careers. The narrative that this choice is binary and applies to all women is just false.

      • RoGro had a child mid season. did he stop? no. hypothetical Susie Wolf is driving races, has a child, would she stop? her answer is yes. so you tell me, in the shoes of a F1 boss or sponsor, who would you rather out your money and effort behind? I am all for equal opportunity to all. I merely comment on the reality of what would actually happen, regardless of anyone’s political views.

        • I would rather hire the best drivers I could afford. If one of them leaves at the end of the season to go do other things (Mark Webber ring a bell) so be it. It happens.

          The narrative you perpetuate here is basically implying that she will up and leave them in the middle of the season by doing something foolish, like say, Kubica, who went rallying and ended his career leaving his employer in the lurch. Or Webber again with his shoulder injury from MTB which may have put paid to his only chance for WDC honors.

          The idea that she would retire someday and start a family, rather than starting one while she is still (sort of) racing making her not serious about her career is, on it’s face, utterly ridiculous.

          And the fact that she would not wish to leave a child without a parent due to the danger of her career is also understandable.

          Does the fact that RoGro chooses to do this make him irresponsible? Yes, but I don’t see anyone writing those stories. Of course it’s also a choice he makes with his family and we should respect that, just as we should Wolff’s. But if Wolff chose the same path no doubt she would be written off for that exact same reason. Simply because she’s a woman

          • I write Susie off for one reason, if she cannot even convince her husband to pay for her to drive how will she convince sponsors?

            Surely Williams and Susie must know how she stacks up against Bottas and Massa and if she was equal or better she’d be racing.

          • never once said she wasn’t serious. never once said starting a family is foolish as you put it. are you implying that starting a family is a foolish accident akin to a mountain bike or rally accident? please read carefully before implying things out of thin air. My entire comment is for this question: if you were in the shoes of a team boss or main sponsor – would you choose a male or female driver if they had equal skill? that’s it. its a simple but hard question anyone in those shoes would struggle with.

        • You’re only looking at one side of the equation, citing the potential negative aspects of employing a woman driver – what about the positives? Would sponsors not love the huge media attention a female F1 driver could almost guarantee? And you make it sound like women can’t be relied on not to get randomly pregnant halfway through a racing season. Don’t you think someone with the discipline to reach the highest levels of Motorsport could be relied on to plan such a thing and to agree it in advance with the affected parties?

          All in all your “women aren’t attractive to potential sponsors because they might end up pregnant” is a pretty unconvincing argument!

          • I apologize then for posing the question. l sincerely hope someday we get female driver for all the positive it will bring to the sport.

          • So long as we don’t get Tampax as a title sponsor with their own livery, it doesn’t matter a fig to me if it’s a guy or a girl driving, so long as they are fast.
            I commented on this story future up and I feel Suzie gas done herself a disservice with the comments she has made. I don’t however, see it as causing future problems for young female drivers, just causing problems for Suzie herself.
            We all have to be real about this and I am sure when it gets down to it, the only thing that is between Suzie Wolff and a Williams race drive is her raw speed, if that was there she would be in without a second thought from the teams management.

          • Haven’t you seen the adverts for feminine hygiene products, Clear View? Apparently we women love nothing more than dressing up in white and taking part in extreme sports at that time of the month so driving the Williams F1 car with the current livery would be perfect!

            Surely the bigger question is not whether a female driver would choose to return to racing after having a child but whether a team would be willing to let its driver sit out for several months whilst pregnant/on maternity leave?

        • I wouldn’t hire Susie to race in F1 not b/c she threatens to quit if one of Toto’s sperm fertilize a little Susie egg, but rather, b/c she’s not competitive in DTM, let alone F1. At 31 and unable to even top-3 in a DTM, she’s lucky to have a motorsports future anywhere, never-mind F1!

  14. I said to you guys that we could be Manchester United…

    Ron Dennis about McLaren’s TS:

    “Our cars will not feature a title sponsor at the first event. But it will definitely feature a title sponsor in the next few events. Why? Because I strongly believe we are Manchester United. Inevitably when you have a run of poor results people push the rate card down.”

    • This following quote from Ron Dennis is ironic and unintentionally humorous in light of how Ron Dennis left the position of team principle:

      “I know people have different opinions of how I run companies… and people see my attention to detail as a negative.
      “But I see it as a positive. And one thing I am is very principled, and the behaviour of this company to its employees is exceptional. There is a way to do things, and I have to lead by example to everybody.”

      The very rich irony is of course that it was Ron Dennis’ 1) lack of attention to detail, combined with 2) poor leadership and 3) poor principles that cost McLaren A) the 2007 Constructor’s Championship, plus B) the $100 million fine for the espionage controversy. He was moved off the pit wall for good reason given the competitiveness of their car that season and the driving talent they had to win that Constructor’s Championship. What an incredible waste that was…

      Perhaps Mr. Dennis has learned from his prior errors…

  15. Hmmm, that race pace of Rosberg is worrying in only one aspect, it seems we have just substituted tyres for fuel. I was hoping that all those fears about fuel conservation wouldn’t come true, but it seems they will, not good!

  16. Re caption comp-

    “Well Bernie, the future looks fraught with danger at every turn. BUT, keep your witts about you and a tight grip on your wallet and you may make it through with at least your liberty in tact”

  17. It certainly looks like Big Ron means serious business. Those are very strong words that have been carefully chosen so there can be no doubt in anyone’s mind what the state of play is at McLaren.
    If pushed (gun to head sinario), I would say McLaren have a special place with me. They were my Dad’s team and in our house Ron Dennis was an F1 God. I have no reservations in saying, I really don’t believe he will simply “observe” track side. Really???
    I’m sure the team are thrilled Ron will be ‘lurking’ while they are battling with the new technology of this season.

  18. Express Mortgages and TJ13 seem like perfect partners, a match made in heaven.

  19. Caption: “You can come out now, Mark. February is over.”

    [ sent from my tJ13-phone ] 😉

  20. “I realised today, having read Ecclestone’s comments, I’m getting bored of the charade that surrounds the F1 calendar. Its persistent intrigue, is wearing and in fact becoming tiresome.”

    Join the club, Judge.

    I’ve been here (the club) since last years calendar conundrum, but haven’t felt the need to really rant about yet this year, but with India, Long beach, Azerbaijan (New Jersey?) being mentioned this week, my rants may become more vocal.

    • …ok….so….derr….I’m Bernie the Boss….. you Krauts need to understand…..there’s loads of people who want an F1 race…..err…so stop whinging….and be thankful you’re getting a good deal….cos I’m not ripping you off as you think…. or as much as I will them…..

      • I do hope Bernie’s replacement(s), whenever that may be, might actually be able to organise a calendar in a, well, sensible manner, but I wont hold my breath just yet.

  21. I noticed two small errors in the Long Beach story.

    1) “LA” is mentioned twice as Long Beach, which is inappropriate & inaccurate as they’re separate cities. “LB” is appropriate, btw.

    2) California is the correct spelling.

    It’s a local track to me, and it’s crap, candidly, as far as quality for proper racing.

      • Hah, yes Montjuic Park! Both tracks had Grand Prix cars catching air on local roads back in the day… very good!

        I should clarify about the quality of the track. Long Beach back then was a fairly entertaining track from a racer’s point of view. There were two straights and each provided passing opportunities. It had elevation changes and manhole covers and all that so it was a good challenge to set-up the cars for that, and to drive it.

        Later, in F1’s last year in LB, instead of hopping up and down the hill to get up to Ocean Boulevard they ran along a parallel road called Seaside Way underneath Ocean Boulevard. It can be said it was better to do so as they were able to carry more speed on to Seaside Way and that passing zone became better (easier) than the old one up at the end of Ocean Blvd.

        They ran variations of this better circuit for the following seasons with CART / IndyCar. The back straight (Seaside Way) had more open, sweeping turns leading on to it, versus the sharp hairpin that leads on to the famous long Shoreline Drive straight. It was a good challenge from an engineer’s perspective. If you set up the car for Shoreline, (set up gears for excellent acceleration from slow 1st gear hairpin, and lay aero down a bit for long straight), you’d hurt yourself everylap back on the Seaside Way straight because you wanted good grip in the mid-speed sweepers leading on to it (good downforce, and correct gearing). There was enough width to pass, and it was a surprisingly good track for a street circuit.

        Now that circuit is gone. Ironically, due to development in area thanks to the glamor of the Long Beach GP, the Seaside Way back stretch had to be emasculated. The cars launch on to it from a sharp 90 right from Pine Avenue in ~2nd or 3rd gear, and the remaining straight is not long enough to function well as a passing zone, where as previously they would cross through that Pine Ave & Seaside Way intersection exiting a sweeper at WOT in 4th or 5th.

        In other words, now they only have one passing zone, the rest of the course is just mickey mouse, mostly single line, and some it narrow. For racing purposes, it is a boring track.

  22. “The key thing to understand is that supplementing Jonathan’s, Eric’s and Sam’s (Michael) capabilities with my own, for a short period of time, is adequately going to address the challenge of winning in F1.”

    I’m curious, did Ron give any actual assessment of Sam Michael’s capabilities to the media today?

      • Interesting. Clearly those inside the paddock see something more in SM than what comes across to those of us looking in from the outside. Will be very interesting to see how this ‘A’ team performs when the season starts…

        • Yep, from jordan to a winning Williams team which plunged to the depths last season.
          Since his arrival at Mclaren, they have been steadily getting worse and yet Williams with Symonds on board have significant sponsorship and progressing well..

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