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Previously on TheJudge13
Smaller teams say FIA in breach of EU law
The F1 strategy group was always likely to increase the power of the teams with big bucks and decrease the say in how the sport should be run for the rest. It was a convenient vehicle to bring Ferrari and Red Bull back into the fold following their decision to exit from the teams’ association, FOTA.
The downside was only six teams got to join the party, and the mechanism devised to decide who they should be surprisingly excludes the smaller teams, Force India, Sauber, Marussia, Caterham and Toro Rosso.
The reality of the strategy group in fact diminished the power of the all teams, who previously could negotiate en bloc with either the FIA or Ecclestone and FOM. They are now locked into a tri-partite body where their vote is just one third of the collective.
This move infuriated the smaller F1 outfits, who have regularly complained about the injustice of their exclusion from decision making on regulatory and sporting matters with which they must comply.
Jean Todt had set out his stall to ensure some kind of cost control would be implemented for 2015, though it became apparent following the Bahrain GP, the teams had refused to these demands. The strategy group dropped plans to find a way to cap spend – and it seems reduce cost, for the indefinite future.
It transpires following the last F1 strategy group meeting where this was agreed, Force India, Sauber, Caterham and Marussia have communicated their dismay to the president of the FIA and suggest there will be a doomsday scenario if the cost control programme is deferred or dropped.
The result may be that Todt has now invited the teams to attend a meeting in paris on May 1st.
The letter from the disenfranchised teams sets out the fact they are not prepared to accept any longer the situation where the six teams appointed to the F1 strategy group decide the regulations of the sport.
They argue the current arrangements are neither democratic or transparent and are in fact in breach of European Law in that they are an abuse of a dominant position. These teams accuse the FIA of allowing the sport to edge towards a ‘financial disaster’, which will see teams leaving the sport imminently.
It is the FIA who would be culpable should there be any breach of European competition legislation.
F1 as usual fiddles whilst it own house burns, and will express surprise when once again there is a mass exodus of teams due to the cost of competition. Whether Haas and a.n. other manage to get their outfits off the ground is irrelevant, because they will face the same difficulties that Caterham and Marussia have discovered, with the former’s owner having ploughed in over $220m to date – and for what?
F1 moves towards a specification series, by stealth
Having abandoned the cost cap initiative, the F1 strategy group claims it will attempt to reduce costs in other ways. One proposal is to allow active suspension back into F1.
Interestingly, Williams dropped their opposition to the cost cap, and they were the team to master active suspension in days of F1 yore. Apparently, the current mechanical suspension systems are so complicated that they require consistent adjustment in the search for the perfect setup at each race weekend. Active ride would reduce the time spent on set-up and then cost.
However, should this be agreed, it will not be implemented before 2017, when a move to 18 inch tyre rims is also being considered.
Yet there are other proposals on the table to standardise and simplify certain components on the cars which currently are a huge expense. These include the fuel system, front wing design, crash structures, brake ducts and inter-connected front and rear suspension.
It’s interesting that Haas philosophy to start his F1 team is to buy in significant parts of the car until his team builds up the expertise to ‘become a constructor’. If this is the way F1 is heading, will he ever need to make the transition?
Yet, is this the way F1 should be heading? Further, is this approach a better solution than greater design freedom which is limited by spend?
Marko slams ‘aggressive’ Mercedes after appeal (GMM)
Dr Helmut Marko has hit back at Mercedes, after the German squad this week called on the court of appeal to come down hard on Red Bull. As Red Bull appealed Daniel Ricciardo’s Melbourne disqualification in Paris on Monday, a lawyer for rival Mercedes argued at length that the FIA should in fact impose “a further sanction”, due to the “flagrant and deliberate” rules breach.
Ultimately, the five judges upheld Ricciardo’s disqualification, but did not add to Red Bull’s penalty.
“We are obviously bitterly disappointed,” the always-blunt Red Bull director Marko said after digesting the court’s decision. “We cannot say any more until we get the detailed reasons for the judgement, but what amazed us even more was the language and aggressiveness that our competitor Mercedes used to argue against us,” he is quoted by Austria’s Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
Less publicly angry is the affable Australian Ricciardo himself, who although having sprayed the champagne on his home-race podium, is in fact yet to officially bank a F1 trophy. “It’s disappointing not to get the 18 points from Australia,” he said on Wednesday, “but if anything it gives me more motivation to get back on the podium as soon as possible. As I said that week, I’d rather have a great race, finish on the podium and then be excluded than to have had a rubbish race and then retire with a car problem half way through.”
Ricciardo ‘surprised’ by Lotus’ Renault struggle (GMM)
Daniel Ricciardo has admitted he is “surprised” Lotus is still struggling so much with its Renault engine. Following the post-Bahrain test last week, Lotus’ Romain Grosjean slammed the situation as “not acceptable”, after both himself and teammate Pastor Maldonado struggled simply to run the E22 amid ‘power unit-related’ issues.
The similarly Renault-powered Red Bull’s Ricciardo, however, said he is “surprised” to hear the extent of Lotus’ ongoing troubles. “It is not very reassuring to see another Renault powered team encountering such difficulties,” the Australian is quoted by the French-language F1i. “We also had a few problems with the V6 turbo in the tests, but nothing too serious,” Ricciardo added. “While we can make further progress on reliability, I am surprised that they (Lotus) are still facing so many problems.”
Indeed, Renault’s Remi Taffin said ahead of the Chinese grand prix that the French marque, after a difficult opening few months of 2014, is now beginning to “hit our stride. While we know that the others are still ahead, we have made some good progress in the last two races,” he explained. “At the test in Bahrain we tested several new software modes that will see us closer to the limits of the power unit than before.”
The King is dead….. Long live…
Unsurprisingly, there has been some criticism in Italy over the choice of the new boss of the Scuderia racing team. It would be not be fair to suggests in Il Padrino’s family that the circle of life should be described as… Long live the king (knife drawn) the King is dead – Long live the king (knife….
Yet some of those F1 media voices who question the appointment of Marco Mattiacci, had been baying for blood since the realisation dawned, that the F14T could at very best be 2nd again in both drivers’ and constructors’ championships this year.
Clearly Mattiacci is not a racing man per se, yet he evidently is a remarkable man; able to build and motivate structures of people across continents which are not his own. The role of team boss is one of project and personnel manager. If Mattiacci is as good as the rest of the Automotive industry believe him to be, he will quickly know who to trust and who is ducking and diving
Luca di Montezemolo has attempted to diffuse the situation by praising the honourable act of Stefano Domenicali falling on his sword. “Resignations in Italy are rare,” said Il Padrino, “Despite having won several world titles in 23 years, Domenicali had the strength to step down because of missed results.” reports the Ferrari mouthpiece – La Stampa.
If the spectre of Stefano being pushed can be banished, LdM knows full well his replacement will have a far easier ride with the Italian media and the tifosi.
So far, the boss of the prancing horses has been accused by the Italian press of having ‘a knee jerk reaction’, panic and of making Domenicali a scapegoat following just 3 races of the new F1 era.
One of the most widely read sports publications, La Gazzetta dello Sport, writes that Marco’s appointment has been met with “skepticism”. “He must overcome this and assert himself in his new role.” La Gazzetta also observes that Mattiacci’s only racing experience is in Grand-AM sports cars.
TJ13 refrained from jumping on the ‘Bob Bell to Ferrari‘ bandwagon, because those tea leaves still point elsewhere. However, Il Padrino’s comments banish the notion that Mattaccia is a short term appointment until Whitmarsh, Bell, Brawn or whoever deigns to take up residence in Maranello.
“I decided to appoint a young manager in whom I have a great deal of confidence and someone from the Ferrari family, rather than going around the world looking for some mercenary,” (Thought-flash: Wonder how James Allison feels about being a mercenary?)
Ferrari may not be winning, but they have the proudest of traditions. “We are full of talent with quality and capability and we are full of technical people from whom I now expect an immediate reaction. (Mattiacci’s) appointment, above all, was made in full agreement with (FIAT CEO Sergio) Marchionne,” adds LdM.
The rhetoric now gets emotional, and most unusual. “I will help him, like I have done in the past I will be closer to F1, I will spend more time there. Let’s look ahead, everyone must do everything they can to return us to competitiveness.”
This impassioned offer of physical assistance from Il Padrino is touching indeed and the thought of him rolling up his sleeves and doing anything other than being the figurehead of Ferrari is quite sensational.
However, there has been some criticism of Luca in recent times. There are those within ‘the family’ who believe he has taken his eye off the ball, as he aspires to political greatness.
So the whole ‘keep it in the family’ appointment – and avoiding mercenaries…. together with Luca’s defence of Mattiacci’s lack of engineering background by stating, “we are all Ferrari engineers” – is a rousing call in the Ferrari team for unity. Unity around Il Padrino’s leadership or course; and this is all a stauesque demonstration of LdM’s commitment ‘absolute’ to the task in hand.
However, in a bizarre twist of fate, should Marco Mattiacci succeed, he would instantly become the heir apparent in the eyes of the FIAT executives to replace Il Padrino.
James Allen argues Montezemolo’s rhetoric indicates he believes the ‘big beasts are returning to the jungle, sensing a change in the natural order’. He cites the second coming of Ron Dennis as further evidence of this.
There may be some mileage in this train of thought, because should Ecclestone go down in Munich, the FIA snatch back the commercial rights from CVC et al… there would be a feast of pie to be had – like no other feast ever seen in Formula 1.
So Mattiacci is here to stay – a permenent fixture?
Well, there could just be one who may return as part of the ‘family’ – which would see Mattiacci fulfill only a temporary role. However, unless Ross Brawn is brushing up his Italian with an online tutor, polishing up his bruschetta recipe and quaffing large quantities of Riocca Grand Reserva…. away from the public gaze…. Then the King is dead….. Long live Marco Mattiacci.
Force India title sponsor absent
An eagle eyed TJ13 contributor spotted this today
Lorenzo de Luca on twitter noted, “Force India without Sahara sponsor”
Max Mosley offers more insight to the new era of F1
TJ13 reported on Monday the shock revelations that a 74 year old man needs hearing aids. Two days later sitting with a fine cognac and cigar – Max Mosley continued offering his opinion on the current state of Formula One and its governance.
“I’d do pretty much what Jean Todt is doing, which is take no notice,” he smiled. “Or pay lip service to the discussion – ‘Oh, that’s interesting, Bernie’ – but in the end take no notice because there’s nothing anybody can do, the regulations are fixed, nobody can change anything. If you try to change them, Mercedes will stop you and your own rules stop you. So there’s nothing to discuss until 2015 and arguably not even then because of the notice periods. So Jean can just very gently take the Mickey.”
As Mosley stated previously, the changes brought in for this season were his brain child and have made Formula One more relevant to the current world climate where the target is to extract the maximum performance from a limited amount of fuel.
“It’s a really interesting technology and it’s change. In the end, If you don’t have change, you just disappear,” said Mosley. “Those cars were becoming dinosaurs and then the sponsors all have to answer to some sort of board about their green credentials. It’s a slight problem that Mercedes seem to have got the jump on everyone else but that’s because they’ve done a better job. The others have just got to work harder.”
With Mercedes emerging as the dominant power, unsurprisingly Ferrari and Renault have been talking down the new direction. With Ferrari conducting a questionable survey and the current Champion declaring the sound as ‘shit’ many observers have been voicing concerns that F1 politicking is talking itself down.
Mosley offered: “They are all, of course, pushing their own particular agenda, the truth of the matter is I think that the public don’t take the slightest notice. I don’t think anyone is going to say ‘Ooh, Vettel says the engines are rubbish so I’m not going to turn the television on Sunday’. It just doesn’t happen. People might turn it off if it’s a boring race, but everyone will turn it on.”
“The people who don’t like it have got this thing about the noise. I think that’s complete nonsense. People will get used to the noise and then they won’t all end up deaf like me. These cars are still very fast… my bet is that by this time next year, people will have forgotten all about the sound. They’ll be fascinated by the cars, by what’s happening.”
Haas may yet “reinvent the F1 wheel”
TJ13 has not been critical of Gene Haas since his extended press conference earlier this week, simply because for someone to ‘boldy go, where none has gone before’ requires a certain amount of admiration.
Further, it is not as though Haas is blind to this ambitious step, as he commented, “There is obviously scepticism in anything that anybody’s trying to do that hasn’t been done before, The only way I can allay that is to go out there and do it.
I think we have the flexibility. When things don’t go right, we go in a different direction, and we do whatever it takes to get things done. I can’t tell you about the other people that fail [in F1]. I don’t know why they fail.
Maybe where they failed, I can figure out how not to. But I firmly believe that we have the right tools to go forward on this and be successful at it.
I’ve been pretty successful at taking on projects that other people say you can’t do.”
Bold assertions indeed!
Former F1 driver and straight talking Juan Pablo Montoya reckons Haas is “mad” in his plans to start an F1 team.
“If he wants to build [the team] here in the States I think it’s completely mad,” adding, “You can’t even call it mad because it makes no sense. You are not going to get people from England to move to Charlotte.”
It has been suggested that Haas has been courted to enter an American based F1 team, in the drive to improve the profile of Formula 1 in the states.
Montoya is not so sure about the global ambitions of F1. “I think Formula 1 has to be careful not to discard Europe too much. That is where the original fans are, where the car fans are. You don’t want to keep driving away from Europe”.
The Columbian adds, “I know other places will give them more money to go but if you take the British GP, or the Spanish GP away, imagine that? There are a lot of big races and you don’t want to screw that.”
It was interesting that during his press conference, Haas repeatedly asserted, “Our job is not to reinvent the wheel”, and whilst this caused some amusement to observers, it appears Haas in fact is doing exactly that.
The American entrepreneur continues to state he will be buying in a chassis from Dallara and an engine from Ferrari or Mercedes. Details at present are scant, but the inference is that Haas will be producing very little on his first F1 car, and hope to “assemble and disassemble the cars at a European base”.
TJ13 reported yesterday, the F1 Strategy Group is at present discussing standardising certain components on the cars to reduce cost, so is it the case Haas has wind of this new Formula, and in fact is ahead of some of the rest?
It’s still a big ask to sub-contract the vast majority of the components of an F1 car for manufacture and then to be able to piece them together with precision and optimise their interaction.
Yet the concept of customer cars will not go away and was the subject of discussion again at the last F1 strategy group meeting.
With the 6 privileged teams on the F1 strategy Group refusing to contemplate a budget cap, yet all paying lip service to reduced costs. Will this will be the new Formula 1? If so it appears it will arrive by stealth – rather than revolution.
Haas may not in fact be just be reinventing the wheel, but part of the reinvention of Formula 1.