Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 9th April 2014

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Previously on TheJudge13

#F1 Forensics: Mercedes reveal their hand

The Top-20 GP Drivers who did NOT win a championship…


Hear ye, “Gulf Daily News – The Voice of Bahrain…”

Giampaolo Dallara – Ferrari has hit rock bottom

Teenager Sirotkin completes mileage to qualify for F1 super-licence

Red Bull-Fallows promoted to Head of Aero, Podromou on gardening leave

Marussia no longer owned by Russian supercar maker (GMM)

Briatore – Ferrari not excellent in F1

Sauber’s Bahrainian Break Dance Routine

The Eccleston Poker Game (GMM)


Hear ye, “Gulf Daily News – The Voice of Bahrain…”

The Gulf Daily News (GDN) was the first daily English newspaper to be published in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Founded in 1978, it was created to provide news to the English speaking residents of Bahrain. By all accounts the newspaper used to be pro-government but political reforms after 2001 means it now includes Islamists and liberals on its staff. What is impossible to say is if these staff are actual correspondents or not.

In a recent article, much was made of the quotes by various internationally known stars. One such celebrity was rock legend Brian Johnson, lead singer of AC/DC. Johnson is a renowned car and racing enthusiast and was in attendance for all three days of the Grand Prix weekend before receiving the honour of conducting the interviews of the three drivers on the podium.

This is a direct quote from the newspaper: “You get to hear all this bad news about Bahrain, but when you get here it is so positive,” he told the GDN from the Bahrain International Airport’s VIP Terminal before he boarded a flight to London. “People here are smiling always and are so positive and I was glad to be part of this race. I would also like to thank His Royal Highness – Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier who is a gracious man.”

Having seen this man performing in concert and more recently interviewed on the UK’s BBC Top Gear programme for their feature ‘Star in a reasonably priced car’ it would surprise nobody if it was suggested that his gratitude to His Royal Highness…. was indeed scripted by some infamous ghost-writer. The man is from Newcastle and whilst the city is a cultural eye-opener – the British, themselves, struggle with the regional accent!

Similarly cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was a guest of the Crown Prince, “I would like to thank His Royal Highness for inviting me for this great event and he is a humble and down-to-earth person,” he said. “This is the first time I have watched a night race and it feels great to see the track lit beautifully. We were actually going from one end to another (VIP Tower) to see the competition in the end between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.”

The 41-year-old was sitting with his wife Anjali and close friends as they waited to board a flight to Mumbai. He was seen off by Dadabhai Group chairman Mohammed Dadabhai and officials from the Crown Prince’s Court.

A rock legend, cricketing hero, a gracious, humble and down-to earth Crown Prince, a Group Chairman all assembled in a VIP Terminal… somewhere there’s a punchline to be shared.

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Giampaolo Dallara – Ferrari has hit rock bottom

imagesDallara – a name synonymous with motorsport has declared Ferrari in serious trouble. The man responsible for the cars that dominate International Formula 3 and provide the chassis for Indycar racing is fearful for Ferrari’s ambitions this year. Having worked at Ferrari back in the 60’s his passion for the Italian squad is a little closer than most tifosi.

“Whilst watching the battle between Rosberg and Hamilton, I kept looking for where the Ferraris were. They were fighting with these kids as young as Bottas and Ricciardo and my only thought was look where we ended up! The difference of 10km/h and 10% less power, it scares me.”

“It’s not simply a case of saying it’s the Power Unit at fault either like for Mclaren. They are in crisis at the moment but they have to worry on only one front – their chassis – they know their PU is fine. Ferrari have many issues which demand a huge recovery as the others that use their engine have similar problems with straight line speed.

People are blaming Domenicali but he is not responsible for the design of the car, just as you can’t blame the drivers. They were trailing Massa who wasn’t the strongest of the Ferrari drivers..

Montezemolo met with Jean Todt,, with Ecclestone supporting his argument but Todt was indifferent. Ultimately he had to consider how Ferrari would react if their position were reversed with Mercedes.

They will not be significantly better in China, ultimately they were not quickest in any sector in Bahrain and they can”t take pride in their reliability, nearly all the teams have it anyway. They will recover, if I’m in pain then they will be feeling it 20 to 30 times more.They will work like crazy and eventually bring back a little pride to Modena.”

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Teenager Sirotkin completes mileage to qualify for F1 super-licence

With Daniil Kyvat impressing so many with his Grand Prix rookie season – Russia have a home grown talent that could well be competing for wins and titles very soon. More astonishing, he is still a teenager – at least for another three weeks.

His fellow countryman – Sergey Sirotkin – has also been linked to a Formula One drive but at a mere 18 years old some concerns were raised about his fast-tracking to Grand Prix stardom. Yesterday afternoon Sirotkin completed over 75 laps during the official test session in Bahrain. He completed more than 300kms to qualify for his super license and finished the day with a best time of 1’39.023; eighth on the time-sheets and just over three seconds off the pace.

“In comparison to what I am used to driving in World Series by Renault, I have quite a lot more engine power and more acceleration with the Sauber C33,” he said. “On my fast lap in the morning I made a few mistakes, so I probably lost a second. But, all in all, it was a good start to the session.”

“In the afternoon, we had some difficulties with my shoes. They were too small, so it was pretty painful when I was braking. When we changed the shoes, it was still not the best and difficult to drive. It was not easy, but I am glad we completed the 300 kms. We know that there is a lot of potential for improvement, and we should all be happy with this.”

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Red Bull-Fallows promoted to Head of Aero, Podromou on gardening leave

f1-peter-prodromou-podium-inlineIn January this year Mclaren announced the recruitment of engineers from Red Bull – Peter Prodromou and Dan Fallows and Lotus – Ettore Griffini and Ciaron Pilbeam; to bolster a squad that had lost a significant number of top-level engineers over the last few years and as Christian Horner expressed at the time “it’s only natural that they (Mclaren) are looking to recruit.”

As ever in the world of F1 – where contracts are barely worth the paper they are written on – Red Bull announced that in fact the announcement had been premature and the engineers would in fact be staying in Milton Keynes.

TJ13 has been informed that, as of today, Prodromou is going on immediate gardening leave and that Fallows has been promoted to the position of Head of Aero. It would appear that Prodromou has been enticed by the Japanese yen and will be moving to Mclaren shortly.

Fallows’ position had previously been aerodynamics team leader but has chosen to remain with the reigning champions. After completing his Aeronautics and Astronautics degree at Southampton University in 1997 he joined Lola Cars. In 2001 he joined the Jaguar team where he took over the position of Senior Aerodynamicist before joining Dallara in 2005. With Jaguar being bought by Red Bull in 2006 he returned once more and has remained an integral part of the Newey team.

It has been speculated for some time that Newey is looking for new challenges for the future – with the America’s cup entry being a personal ambition. It’s possible that much of the behind the scenes political gamesmanship is the beginning of the end of the super team and could, in part, explain the rumours about Red Bull looking to buy the rights to Formula One.

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Marussia no longer owned by Russian supercar maker (GMM)

F1 team Marussia has split with its Russian supercar maker owner. The sports arm of the Russian news agency Ria Novosti reports that Marussia Motors, headed by Nikolai Fomenko, is no longer making cars and has given up ownership of the UK-based formula one team that bears its name.

R-Sport said Marussia staff have “left the company en masse and joined a government-run technical institute. The supercar project was ambitious, but it is disappointing that it was unable to get to market,” team spokeswoman Tracy Novak confirmed. “There is no impact whatsoever on the formula one team’s operation,” she insisted.

Novak explained that the team is now owned by another company with a Marussia-themed name, Marussia Communications Limited.

There is a company called Marussia Communications Ireland Limited, which is registered to a house on a street in Dublin.

“There is no link between the two companies financially or technically,” Novak said. “The F1 team has been an independent operation for some time.” It was reported recently that Marussia Motors president Fomenko was in F1 takeover talks with Zoran Stefanovich, but Novak played down fears the future of the backmarker team is in doubt. “The F1 team has had a positive start to the 2014 season and looks forward to continued success in the pursuit of its racing ambitions,” she said.

TJ13 Comment: After checking the dates it appears that this is not an April Fool. Marussia Communications – registered to an obscure house in a Dublin street..

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Briatore – Ferrari not excellent in F1

Flavio Briatore has few friends within the Formula One paddock after his race-fixing became public knowledge. The few he had before certainly didn’t include people like Max Mosley – “Max has to act as he does because we can never reach an agreement. It is normal that occasionally this results in not so good decisions.”; Ron Dennis – “Dennis is not the immaculate saint he pretends to be in his statements.” and not forgetting his favourite driver – Jenson Button “is a decent bloke but like a roadside post”

It is not difficult to understand why the other team bosses didn’t appreciate this multi-millionaire coming in and questioning the cost of competing in Formula One: “The GP2 championship costs 0.65 percent of what the Formula One championship costs. I don’t understand why GP2 cost $2.5 million and our team and other teams cost maybe between $300 and $500 million. I do not see what the difference is.”

He was viewed as a business man who Luciano Benetton enticed into the sport to run his team more successfully. He admitted: “I’m not particularly passionate about Formula One. I just want to win.”

Win he did. It took five years from his first visit to a paddock – to win titles with Schumacher; a feat he would repeat in 2005/6 with Fernando Alonso.

By that point he had plenty to offer in regards the spectacle of F1: “I don’t think the public are interested in what your suspension is made of. We need to keep technology, but races are too predictable. Every time we have a good race it’s because something happened with a Safety Car or the weather. We need more fights between drivers. The races should be held at a better time as well. 2pm on a Sunday night is not right. We need to be starting 6pm or 7pm.”

In Italy where Ferrari is a religion – Italian Radio 105 asked the views of Briatore as to the current situation in Maranello. With increasing fears that the 2014 campaign is over almost before it began he offered his views on the company.

The brand is excellent,” the 63-year-old former Renault and Benetton boss said. “For the team, at the moment it is very difficult. It is not an excellence in competitiveness – in Formula One – but the brand is very strong in the world.”

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At least Bernie loves him… like attracts like.

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The Eccleston Poker Game

Bernie Ecclestone on Wednesday revealed that a group of teams is considering buying into Formula One. It was rumoured in Bahrain that the F1 chief executive, who owns just 5 per cent of the sport, was putting the group of teams together in a possible move to buy out the majority shareholder CVC.

Ecclestone is facing trial in Germany later this month on bribery charges, and if convicted CVC has committed to standing him down. It is also rumoured that fronting the prospective team shareholders could be a way for him to remain in control no matter the outcome in Munich.

The 83-year-old told the Bloomberg news agency on Wednesday that a group of teams are indeed “having a conversation” about buying into F1 however he would not identify the teams, and insisted he is not part of the talks.

We’ll see what the group comes up with,” said Ecclestone. “Maybe they will get enough together to buy shares.” He added that the talks for now are “just a conversation” and “may not go anywhere“.

Also rumoured in Bahrain was that Ferrari and Red Bull are the major players in the consortium, having joined with Ecclestone in being highly critical of the new 2014 rules in a bid to devalue the sport ahead of a takeover bid.

When asked by the British broadcaster Sky in Bahrain if devaluing F1 was his plan, Ecclestone answered “Not really“.

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38 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 9th April 2014

  1. Certainly Sauber have a problem with shoes. First Hulkenberg and his oversized feet, and now Sirotkin requiring kid-size shoes…

    Perhaps their next driver selection won’t be based on budget size but on shoe size.

  2. ” One such celebrity was rock legend Brian Johnson, lead singer of AC/DC.

    The man is from Newcastle and whilst the city is a cultural eye-opener – the British, themselves, struggle with the regional accent! ”

    I’m British – and have absolutely NO problem understanding Geordies –

    Divint ye nah !

    Maybe you should have said Southerners have problems understanding ?

  3. Just saw a very interesting video on skyf1…

    Apparently Ferrari were the ones who pushed for the V6 engines. So if that’s the case, why is LDM bitching about rules needing to be changed and F1 is boring?

    • I saw an article today that quoted Weber (head of Merc R&D) saying flat out that without the new regulations Merc would’ve left the sport.

      No wonder Ferrari and RB are so unhappy with them, LOL!

      • Renault also threatened to leave if the engine regs didn’t go the way they have, they also pressed for the fuel flow restrictions as part of the deal that meant they would stay in F1. Ferrari pushed for V6 Turbo as originally it was straight 4 turbo (can’t remember the CC) and Ferrari said it was of absolutely no relevance to anything they do. Merc also wanted more road relevance and were threatening to walk if there wasn’t a revolution. So, they all had a finger in the pie, also due there being 3 PU suppliers, you were never going to please them all.

    • I think they pushed for V6s when the other option was V4s as FIA originally wanted. I´m not sure they pushed for changing to small turbo engines from V8s.

  4. Battle between McLaren and RB apparently in courtroom as Boullier is saying that Fallows has contract with Macca and the lawyers are getting involved. Will be interesting to see how that gets negotiated.

      • I would love to but Sky videos won’t play on my computer for some reason. Creepily enough, when I tried using a different browser admin.brightcove wanted access to my microphone and camera.

        I just have no patience for an outfit that large not just making things that work. They should use YouTube and be done with it

  5. Oh God, have you seen twitter! ‘That Woman’ is at the test… ah well Lewis, one world championship is still a good achievement! 😀

    • So he’s not allowed to have a partner, irrespective of whether she’s a celebrity or not? And what does that have to do with him winning or not winning a championship? I didn’t know she made the cars

        • Wasn’t it the same with jenson and his now fiancée or the other countless women he’s been associated with?

      • She doesn’t make the cars but she can break up with him yet again. Sad Lewis tends to not do well.

        • Break up with him again, just like how jenson did on numerous occasions with his now fiancée? How many drivers have had break ups with their other halves? If breaking up with someone you truly loves, doesn’t affect you in someway or the other, irrespective of what profession your in, then you weren’t truly in love with them at all.

      • It was merely a joke Fortis, riffing on the notions that Lewis’s personal life, particularly his love life, often distract him to the extent that his performance suffer. If you’ve been here since the start as I have, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Lewis, and don’t approve of a lot of the things that get written about him, and this poor woman, but that doesn’t mean I don’t indulge, or appreciate, a little humour on the matter. Have a good day!

        • Apologises. It’s just that I find it really stupid that people keep having ago at the guy over who he choses to be with. If it’s not his taste of music, tattoos, how he dresses, it’s something else. It’s like he’s not entitled to have any interest outside of the sport or he’s the first person to date a celebrity.

          • I whole heartedly agree, frankly the ridicule over dress, music, and style is just mindless snobbery, bordering on racism, and I don’t say that lightly, or throw it around like some do.

          • I don’t disagree with the sentiment re Hamilton – he is his own person and can do what he pleases. But compare Hamilton to Vettel. The one is methodical and (some would say) boring while the other is all over the place and lives with his heart and emotions on his sleeve.

            Now I know you say we should leave Hamilton alone but is all this music, tattoos and dressing not Hamilton’s way of finding acceptance or at least rewarding him for his own success? Where you never hear much about Vettel you always hear about Hamilton. Is all this “self reward” leading Hamilton to be less focussed? History suggests it does distract him. And if you’ve ever really loved someone and they leave you, you know what heartache that can be and it does distract you from the task at hand…

          • Don_quixote
            That’s just nonsense. You can’t compare Lewis and vettel’s character. Who says Lewis is methodical? Yet again your basing your statement on the rubbish the media prints.

            So what if he likes his music, tattoos etc, that’s his way of getting away from the sport, you can’t expect him to spend every single minute of his day focusing on just F1? That would just be absurd. Alonso does cycling, jenson triathlons, Suitil, beating up people in night clubs and god knows what the others do. Basically it’s easy to single him out, because he’s the odd one out. What he’s doing now, is minor in comparison to what people like Hunt, Ervine, Kimi and many before him has done. But it was seen as a welcome behaviour and a breath of fresh air to the sport when they do it, but in Lewis’s case, he gets ridiculed and labelled as being distracted.

            And why would you think he’s seeking acceptance?

            And it’s good that he shows his emotions, that means he has a heart and he cares.

          • All good points sir… may I ask though, what does Vettel do when he is not racing, the odd soap box race, visiting Pirelli, Renault, Infinity as part of being their “Director of Performance”.

            While Alonso rides his bike, Jenson does triathlons, Sutil gets aggressive and Hamilton does his bit, Vettel becomes better. I agree the guys like Hunt, Irvine, Kim et al are a different breed but that is also one of the reasons why Vettel is the youngest quadruple WC 😉

  6. of course VIPs just looove their experience. won’t matter if you are in Uganda if you are schmoozing next to the king and getting a smorgasbord of exotic fruits, mouton Rothschild wines, caviar and pig heads served to you

  7. Hmmm…. if the teams do buy F1 Bernie would have to stay behind the scenes as I’m pretty sure Mercedes were very upfront regarding their corporate governance and would leave if he’s convicted and continues to run the sport.

    Of course, rumors of the teams buying the sport could also be a bid to drive up prices for a more serious offer coming from elsewhere.

  8. Ooof. Mclaren, Lotus and Ferrari all less than 30 laps today. Lotus PU, but different than yesterday, Ferrari chassis, McLaren braking issue put Magnussen in gravel trap, entailed lengthy repairs.

  9. I cannot think of a better poker bluff than Ferrari, Mclaren (for history and heritage) and RedBull (most succesful recent team) to issue an statement saying that they will leave the sport at the end of 2014 season. For sure, F1 without these three teams is worth way less, stock prices go down, they purchase.

  10. That GIF! Like Osama with the balloondog.

    Regarding the Communications company: The F1 team says there’s no link. So there is no link. And some self-employed-work-from-home-outfit bears the same name. Gillette Mach3 Turbo anyone? It’s not like they fit some kind of turbine to your razorblade, is it?Some people/companies lift on popular phrases and name with a copycat name.

    Show us who are the owners of both companies. If there’s any link it gets interesting.

  11. So Red Bull have lost a key aero guy, are in legal wranglings over another, are maybe plotting to buy part of F1, are compiling an appeal over Ricciardo’s AUS disqualification, are still having a bit of a stooshie with Renault over the power unit, Horner’s experiencing a messy personal life, Vettel is likely sleep deprived from his bubba… and yet RB are still outperforming teams like Ferrari and Williams. God knows what they’ll be capable of when 100% of their attention is focused on the racing…

  12. OT: is it just me or does the WordPress mobile app suck a bagful? The comment structure is always different to the regular version and now the commenter names are replaced by numbers. What the fornication?

  13. Is Bernie trying to buy F1 back?

    Does Bernie Ecclestone have an unexpected agenda behind his recent criticisms of 2014 Formula 1? DIETER RENCKEN investigates an intriguing F1 political rumour

    Formula 1 thrives on conspiracy: catch two (or more) team bosses in a huddle, and whispers instantly have them trading drivers/ganging up against competitors/scheming further (advantageous) regulation changes/discussing solutions to the latest catastrophe to hit F1.

    In the world of F1 conspiracy, everything goes, with nothing being too bizarre to consider. Indeed, the only variables are the length of time devoted to deliberation/rejection/filing under ‘future’.

    However, there was a theory shared with this column in the wake of the first race of the season that was simply too outlandish to have legs. Yet…

    A source close to Bernie Ecclestone was adamant that he, the source who seldom peddles rumours, knew the reason for the F1 tsar’s hefty criticism of F1’s new technology, in particular the lack of noise emitted by the sport’s new engines, whose exhausts are muffled by high-pressure turbochargers driving compressors and electrical generators. This despite the 83-year-old not having heard the engines run in anger prior to Malaysia…

    “Look at it this way,” said the source, “if you want to buy something, you do everything to hammer the price down, find fault with the product. I think you’ll find Bernie is aiming to buy control of the sport, and you know what hard bargains he drives. He aims to buy out CVC.”

    After stifling guffaws, AUTOSPORT’s next reaction was to argue that, having single-handedly driven up the value from the £1.1bn paid by venture fund raiser CVC Capital Partners in that contentious deal – the aftermath of which saw German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky jailed and Ecclestone charged with bribery – back in 2005 by a factor of (at least) four, even Ecclestone is unlikely to have sufficient fiscal depth to cut a deal with his paymasters.

    “Possibly, but don’t forget he’s got very rich and extremely powerful friends,” said source argued.

    “I believe he’s assembled a syndicate to buy out CVC, who have made a fortune out of F1, but endured headache after headache. It’s got to a stage where damage to their reputation by being associated with Bernie and his legal issues is not worth their dwindling return on investment, particularly as listing on the Singapore stock exchange is off the table.

    “Don’t forget companies like CVC are measured on the two Rs: reputation and ROI [return on investment]. Already [Donald, CVC co-founder and co-chairman] Mackenzie has been forced to testify in the High Court, and next month Bernie’s Munich trial kicks off. Who knows what else awaits?
    “They made their money, and now it’s time to get out before their [annualised] return on investment gets dented too much…”

    Said source had a good point or three, particularly Ecclestone’s ability to persuade a syndicate to back him (despite his age), and CVC’s headaches. Thus the open questions are who, how Ecclestone would reacquire control of an entity he has now sold four times (and, according to Ken Tyrrell, did not legally own in the first place), and why he would do so at an age when most men are shuffling about in PJs and slippers?

    The ‘how’ is easier to answer than the ‘why’: not only is Ecclestone the consummate entrepreneur, but he’s something of a controlling taskmaster. Yet, since massaging the deal which enabled CVC to acquire 63 per cent of F1’s commercial rights – and as a result majority control – he has been dictated to, with the latest blow to his well-known modus operandi being enforced ‘resignations’ from organisations such as Formula One Management and other Formula One Group companies.

    During the high-profile Constantin Media court case, Mackenzie in November told the High Court Ecclestone would be “fired” if it is proven he had done “anything that is criminally wrong”, and immediately after the charges were confirmed issued a media release stating F1’s CEO would be subject to increased monitoring.

    Acquiring majority control (again) would certainly set Ecclestone free professionally, even if the court case still bears heavily – but that is another fight.

    Indeed, freedom from CVC shackles would enable Ecclestone to cut a deal with the Munich prosecutor’s office should he be so inclined, for while such a plea bargain would inevitably require an admission of guilt, he could not be “fired” by CVC were the investment company to exit F1.

    True, given that litigation commences in a little over two weeks, not a lot of time remains, but in real terms a deal could be struck at any point through to the verdict, in which case CVC could ‘spin’ the sale as ‘doing the right thing’, thus bolstering the reputation that is crucial to such companies. As will become apparent, some major challenges face CVC in this regard.

    So, how? Ecclestone (5.3 per cent), his family’s Bambino Trust (8.5 per cent) and FOM associates (3.7 per cent) currently hold 17.5 per cent of Delta Topco, the holding vehicle for F1’s commercial rights. (Liquidated) Lehman Bros has 12.3 per cent – said to be available, possibly immediately after three per cent was recently sold to the Texas Teachers Pension Fund. Such acquisition would take the notional syndicate to nigh on 30 per cent.

    Since the planned Singapore IPO bombed heavily for various reasons – not least various litigation suits faced by Ecclestone and associates – CVC (and other shareholders) gradually divested from Delta Topco such that CVC now holds just 35.5 per cent, but, in terms of its covenants, retains overall control.

    True, various laws governing trusts would prohibit Ecclestone from exercising control over Bambino, but no law on earth could prohibit the trustees from electing to throw their lot into a syndicate of which he is a member should they decide that such a move would be in the best interests of the trust.

    However, so widely spread is Delta Topco’s investor base* that, should any of the prime candidates elect to remain independent of the syndicate, the permutations for majority control are fundamentally endless. Some may even volunteer to sell out, having over the years achieved their investment objectives, or simply wish to exit an investment that has brought them enormous returns, but not without rather unsavoury riders: think Bahrain 2011 or even the current Russian situation.

    The last named could well prove the tipping point for CVC (and others), for insiders are adamant that FOM is being pressured by commercial and political interests to cancel the race due to Russia’s recent annexation of Crimea. Of course, all concerned are making sweet cooing noises, but the fact remains that the European Union and United States of America are considering all options to sanction Russia – including pressure to can the race at the former Winter Olympics site, which is but a figurative stone’s throw away from the Crimea.

    Of 56 entities currently vested in CVC’s portfolio, 31 are EU-based companies and six are USA-based companies, with 19 operating in Asia – and, tellingly, not a single Russian-registered holding company featuring.

    Included in the mix are consumer brands, clothing labels, pharmaceuticals and financial services, with the latter including Acromas, owner of Britain’s AA motoring service.

    Other companies include speciality chemicals producer Evonik, formerly known by its acronym Degussa (Deutsche Gold und Silber Scheideanstalt, est 1873) – one of the pioneers of the precious metals processing industry – and the Burger King and Domino’s Pizza franchises in Spain. Protesters could have field days across Europe…

    In this respect, the FIA finds itself in a rather difficult situation, for its remit is to remain staunchly non-political – hence its stance on Bahrain – but if the commercial rights holder wishes to cancel the race, the sport’s governing body is fundamentally powerless to take action, providing just another reason to detest the deal struck with Ecclestone by former FIA president Max Mosley’s administration.

    Therefore persuading CVC, which has already held its shareholding twice as long as is traditional in the business, to sell out its 35.5 per cent would not provide Ecclestone and his syndicate with 65 per cent and thus outright control, but it would provide the perfect exit strategy for CVC. And, even if it decides to retain its interest in Delta Topco, the syndicate could still acquire up to 65 per cent by other means.

    Covenants are said to be in place to prevent a wresting of control from CVC, but it is difficult to argue with votes…

    The only open question is who? Who would Ecclestone’s partners be? Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo are obvious candidates, while Mosley is not short of a shilling or two. Between them they would love more input into F1’s regulatory processes, particularly given their current situations.

    Other teams, too, could buy in. In fact, about the only top team that would be inclined to recuse itself is Mercedes, for the company’s corporate compliance guidelines would preclude such an investment, certainly while Munich looms large. But then over the years Ecclestone has rubbed shoulders with various captains of industry across the globe – and all know a good buck when they smell one.

    Could it come to pass? Certainly, Mackenzie and Ecclestone worked the Malaysia paddock hard all weekend, and were not just soliciting comment on the latest catastrophe to afflict F1, namely exhaust noise…

    *Current (unconfirmed) shareholding structure of Delta Topco,
    holding entity of the Formula One Group:

    CVC Capital Partners 35.5 per cent
    Waddell & Reed 20.9 per cent
    Lehman Brothers 12.3 per cent
    Bambino Holdings 8.5 per cent
    Bernie Ecclestone 5.3 per cent
    *河蟹* of Norway (Norges) 4.5 per cent
    JP Morgan Whitefriars 3.0 per cent
    Texas Teachers Pension Fund 3.0 per cent
    BlackRock 2.4 per cent
    Churchill Capital 0.7 per cent
    Free float of several individuals 3.9 per cent

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