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Previously on TJ13:
Classic Kyalami to be auctioned (Updated)
OTD Lite: Dick Seaman wins 1938 German GP
Richard Seaman – a young British aristocrat won the 1938 German GP at the Nurburgring leading home his team-mate Rudolf Caracciola. After the event he saluted by giving the Nazi salute and he remained one of Hitler’s favourite drivers.
Less than a year later he was killed when he lost control at Spa Francorchamps and his car erupted in flames – evetually succumbing to his burns in hospital.
A controversial figure – he had been gifted a country estate for his 20th birthday, had the best education money could buy but he wished to race cars. He won races in his MG car and further events in an ERA which caught the attention of Alfred Neubauer who invited him to test for Mercedes.
Against his mother’s wishes – “Don’t want you racing for the Nazi’s” he signed for Mercedes and when in December 1938 he married the daughter of the director of BMW his mother turned her back on her son in disgust.
It’s easy now with our cultures of diversity, open-mindedness and tolerance to forget the bravery of his convictions – however misguided. With the British King having abdicated a mere two years before and Europe seemingly heading into war – to leave a privileged background and forge your own destiny was practically unheard of at the time and to drive for the enemy and marry a German too…
Formula E rubs Ecclestone’s nose in it
Formula E is the brainchild of the FIA and Jean Todt in particular. Interestingly the promoter of the sport selected by the FIA is Alejandro Agag, ex partner in crime with Mr. Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore in their English Premier League venture into club ownership with Queens Park Rangers.
Ecclestone has treated the project with disdain. “For them [the organizers], it’s a commercial thing. One or two of them are going to make a few quid and that will be the end of it,” adding, “I can’t see it ever working. I know how much it costs to put a street race together,”
Of course Formula E is in no way direct competition for Formula 1, though the racing series is intended to be the highest class of competition for single seater electrically powered cars.
The venues selected by Formula E are street circuits in their entirety and will be hosted by some of the most evocative cities of the world. Hosts are not required to pay a hosting fee of tens of million dollars – as in F1, but merely to deliver the infrastructure for the race to take place.
Today Formula E announces it will race in Long Beach California for round six of the inaugural Formula E series this year.
The Long Beach Grand Prix is the longest running major “street” race held on the North American continent. It began in 1975 as a Formula 5000 race on the streets of downtown LA, and became an iconic F1 event in 1976. F1 decided to walk away from long Beach in 1983.
Since then, the Long Beach GP has hosted the premier class of US singe seater racing and attracts one of the largest crowds of the calendar, in excess of 200,000 fans each year.
Having failed miserably to entice a promoter to spend some $100m dollars to bring F1 to New York, Ecclestone turned his attention to Long Beach, believing his long time crony Chris Pook, founder of the LA Grand Prix, would be able to persuade the authorities that F1 should replace the IndyCar event.
Mr. E failed again. IndyCar have were given a limited extension to their contract whilst the guardians of the city take time to consider the ‘alternatives’ in a more considered manner.
Out of the blue, Agag has pulled a coup d’état against his old buddy, and landed a deal for Formula E to race at this historic venue.
Admission to the Long Beach E Prix will not cost fans several hundred dollars as for a Formula 1 race, but will be free for those who wish to attend the weekend event.
“We’re delighted that Formula E has selected Long Beach as the site for its first E Prix on the U.S. West Coast,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association. “And the free admission will afford everyone the opportunity to come out and witness this historic and unique event.”
Agag responded, “Jim and his team have a proven track record in operating one of the most famous street races in the US, so they were an obvious choice to help facilitate our Long Beach ePrix and we’re looking forward to working with Jim and his team to make this a fantastic spectacle for the people of Southern California”.
The US is a key market for Formula E due to its burgeoning electric vehicle infrastructure, and the only country to have two races. Not to mention live TV coverage provided via FOX Sports, a founding partner in technology giant Qualcomm and Wyc Grousbeck, lead owner of NBA basketball team the Boston Celtics, as one of the series’ investors.”
Formula 1 is desperate to crack the US market, yet it appears the sport’s business model which costs its hosts tens of millions of dollars is untenable and clearly Bernie Ecclestone’s old crony network is not the source of bounty it once used to be.
California is heavily into promoting automotive efficient technologies, and even the new F1 just doesn’t fit the bill when compared to Formula E.
CVC are desperate to sell F1 as its image and value is plummeting. They, more than anyone else, have realised the income from the current Formula 1 business model has reached a high water mark. And the promoters and fans of Formula E in Long Beach are now gazillions in pocket when compared to hosting and attending an F1 event.
Classic Kyalami to be auctioned
The South African Kyalami track is to go under the hammer today as it is auctioned off. Joff van Reenan, the auctioneer of The High St Auction Co announced the sale – “It will be the largest auction in the history of South Africa. We have had several calls from America, Europe and London.If you have always wanted to be an owner of a circuit, be sure to participate in the sale.”
The auction will take place at Summer Place in Sandton, Johannesburg at 12pm local time and the minimum price for the sale has been set at 200 million rand, amounting to 14 million euro. ‘If a builder will buy it, will change the nature of Kyalami, then there may be no more than one track, however, some buyers were thinking about the possibility of keeping the track intact, while trying to implement a development plan around it.
The circuit was originally built in 1961and first hosted Formula One in 1967. It remained a popular fixture for many years with both drivers and fans, it would be the location of the last victory by Jim Clark and Jack Brabham whilst furnishing Mario Andretti and Carlos Reutemann with their first ever victories in 1971 and 1974 respectively. It would also be remembered for possibly the most gruesome fatality ever witnessed at a Formula One event when Tom Pryce hit a marshall who was crossing the track.
By 1985, apartheid had reached the global public conscience and Formula One’s governing body forbade the teams from returning until the political situation within the country was resolved. On a severely changed track, F1 returned for a further two years in 1992-3 but the bankruptcy of the event sponsors signalled the end of the race.
The original circuit no longer exists as the site around the current circuit has been redeveloped as part of Johannesburg’s suburbs. The city centre being a mere 24 miles away and the current circuit was last used for international motor-sport when the World Superbikes raced there between 1998-2002 and 2009-10.
Will this prove a tragic end to one of the great tracks or will a wealthy benefactor come in and save the facility. The original circuit had a distinct feel about it, run at altitude and with a straight that punished the cars it was a classic but by the 90’s it had been rebuilt in what may well have been a blue print for Tilke dromes.
Kyalami has been sold for R205 million ($19.4), but fear not, the buyer is Toby Venter, MD of Porsche South Africa. Porsche South Africa spokesperson Christo Kruger told South African Wheels24 “Yes, Toby Venter’s Porsche South Africa has bought Kyalami.”
Speaking to the man himself it appears the circuit is safe for the near future. Speaking to Wheels24 Venter said “Kyalami is saved and that was the main reason I bought it, and yes for SA Motorsport too. It would have been a tragedy if the racetrack was lost. We all have a role to play and every single motorsport enthusiast needs to know the track is saved.
We’ll be integrating some of Porsche SA’s business units with the racetrack, but other manufacturers are most welcome too.”
We have Mexico back on the map Mr E… how about heading down south?
Mercedes have concluded double points unfair now
Somewhere in a darkened corner of Stuttgart and a corresponding room in Brackley, the key players have finally come to a corporate decision which won’t harm their vested interests.
Niki Lauda is still tucked away in his chamber and will only appear when a TV camera crew is prepared or Eddie Jordan is spouting his typical nonsense.. but despite Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe needing to instil team-orders – Lauda still rules the roost on that.
No, the great and the good of Mercedes Benz have decided that actually the awarding of double points at the final race is actually a mistake.
Formula One teams aren’t known for their unanimous decision making for the benefit of the sport, and yet they all agreed to the contrived finale to the season. Whilst it was seen as beneficial to anyone taking on the Red Bull team, to artificially keep interest up, Red Bull agreed because they knew Renault was not going to be dominating early on and expected they would need the additional help except, Mercedes are so dominant that Wolff now believes it’s unfair.
“I don’t think it is fair and I don’t think we should have done it,” Wolff admitted. “I would be very surprised if it didn’t come down to double points. Even if you are 30 points behind you can turn it around in Abu Dhabi if the leading guy retires. Maybe Bernie [Ecclestone] was right in having double points if it’s going to keep the championship open until the last race?”
“The last race could be the decisive one, and I would be very surprised if the audiences weren’t larger than they would normally be. I think the driver who loses the title because of double points will need some psychological treatment, but we are not there yet, the racing between the two is so close; retirements are going to play a crucial role.”
And Mercedes thought it so funny before the season started…
F1 more ‘lego’ than ‘extreme sport’ – Villeneuve (GMM)
Jacques Villeneuve has lamented the lack of “heroes” on today’s formula one grid. But the outspoken 1997 world champion says it is not just the drivers’ fault, as the F1 of today does not bring out the “wild animal” in them.
“The rules are too restrictive,” French Canadian Villeneuve told Schwetzinger Zeitung newspaper. “I have always regarded formula one as an extreme sport, but not really anymore, the sport is no longer pure enough, because of the rules. Everything has become much too artificial,” the 43-year-old insisted.
That, Villeneuve says, means an easier time for the drivers.
“The drivers no longer have to make a real effort,” said the former Williams and Honda driver. “You used to come into formula one maybe still as a 20-year-old, but you would already be a man. Now you get the impression they think racing is like playing with lego.”
And Villeneuve said the latest rules overhaul has proved the final straw for many departing viewers and spectators. “It is boring, we’re losing fans,” said the winner of 11 grands prix, who now attends the races as a television pundit. “You can feel that something is missing.”
Meanwhile, Villeneuve tipped former champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel to leave their current teams. “Lewis Hamilton will not be at Mercedes for long,” he told Sport Bild. “Everyone in the German team wants a German to be world champion. Lewis was only brought in to make Nico (Rosberg) even better.”
As for quadruple title winner Vettel, Villeneuve said: “Sebastian has to leave Red Bull. The public is already changing its opinion of him, as in a middle class car, he is starting to look like a middle-class driver.”
TJ13 comment: First we had the brusque Lauda offering advice, followed up in a smoother manner by Minardi and now we have the consistently grunge act known as Villeneuve trying to be cool with his controversial views…man!!
Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez meets ‘Mac the knife’
The way it was
An eagle eyed TJ13, Anil, commented yesterday that there were moves afoot to alter the last corner (Peraltada) at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
The bad news for F1 fans of the historic circuit is that it appears practically every corner with be
butchered ‘Tilkered’, with the classic Peraltada final bend cut from its Monza-esque parabolic layout to run through an infield section making use of the baseball stadium grandstands.
Here’s the fearsome Peraltda curve, with Ayrton attempting to tae it in sixth gear
Since F1 left town, the defunct Champ Car series and A1 GP raced on the old circuit layout, though a chicane was put in to slow the cars through the Peraltada bend.
Of course, all of this is under the banner of modern safety standards and will see the sweeping turn three tightened, along with turns four, five and six providing room for the required Wallmart style car parking run off areas.
The extended hairpin ecton at the bottom of the circui (as it was pic) will be removed altogether and the classic Esses will also fall under the influence of Mac the knife, though Mr. Tilke assures us they will still be ‘pretty fast’.
Oh well, for those of you missing Korea, the revised circuit appears to have taken the worst of the Korea International Circuit and bred it with the dullest parts of Abu Dhabi. Another F1 success story then.
Here is the link to a promotional YouTube video, which unfortunately has had the embed function disabled… Mmm.
Pirelli tyre choice
The Hungaroring is not a favourite of mine, it resembles a bigger version of a go-kart track and in years gone by has delivered many a snorefest F1 race.
James Allen amusingly yet unwittingly reveals the problem. “Being bold is the key to doing well [a the Hungaroring] , as Lewis Hamilton proved with some overtakes in unusual places last year or as Michael Schumacher and Ferrari proved in 1998 with a brave strategy change mid-race, which led to one of his most exciting victories”.
Even more surprising then that Pirelli decided to go conservative with the soft ad medium tyres for this weekend, though they are concerned that track temperatures will be very high.
The BBC weather forcast for Budapest is interesting
So it is somewhat of a surprise to see Pirelli announce the tyres for Spa will also be the soft and medium’s, given that Spa is an infinitely more demanding prospect than the Hungaroring.
Here’s the tyre choices so far his year
Massa questions the stewards judgement
Mild Mannered and all round likeable Felip Massa has his dander up following the stewards behaviour at the German GP.
Following his coming together with Kevin Magnussen at turn 1, the stewards investigated the matter. On the live commentary, Sky UK’s Ted Kravitz said he feared Magnussen would be getting a drive through penalty.
That said, opinion is split on who was in fact at fault. Peter Windsor commented on the SKY F1 midweek show, that he felt Massa should have known better than to dive into the corner.
In fact the stewards at the time only investigated the incident from the perspective that Massa may have been responsible for causing the incident.
Felipe is most miffed. “So you see there is a lot to improve even in the FIA,” said Massa. “If the stewards are thinking like that I don’t know who they are taking to be stewards to be honest.”
In a rather strange admission, Massa continues, ““Now I understand also that you need to drive not only for yourself but you need to think about what the others will do as well”.
Had this been Pastor Maldonado making such a statement, there would be a party in F1-land to celebrate the Venezuelan’s “seeing the light”. Yet Felipe is in his 12th year as a Formula 1 driver, which begs the question, how has he survived this long?
Kevn Magnussen is pragmatic about the situation.“It happened and it’s good that no-one got hurt, especially him because he was on his roof and it looked bad, so the most important thing is that he’s alright. Whoever’s fault it was is not really something I get in to. It’s up to the stewards to judge and he was reported to the stewards and I wasn’t. From their view I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Asked whether it was something he would speak to Felipe about, Magnussen replied,“No, I think it’s done”
The TJ13 stewards brought the matter before the bench on Monday, and the judgement made was that neither driver was particularly to blame because they were both alongside and sandwiching Bottas, so they couldn’t see each other.
As they braked to allow Bottas through, both Massa and Magnussen had begun their turn in to the first corner.
Anyway, Massa is not one for bearing a grudge. “But anyway, I don’t think we need to go to the past and live in the past. We need to live the future and we need to live the present. We need to concentrate to do a good job here. That’s all I care about. To be honest, what is in the past will not change so we just need to concentrate now.”
Too right Felipe! A top qualifying lap in Hungary could see his Williams lead the race for the first few laps, and then anything is possible.
When the safety car isn’t so safe
Here’s a little topical one (in more ways ta one) pic for the jury…
Confusion over Hamilton contract talks
Red Bull racing rather cheekily revealed the other day, that both McLaren and Mercedes have shown interest in signing Sebastian Vettel to drive for them in 2016.
Following the recent announcement of Rosberg’s “multi year deal”, this led to the assumptions that Lewis may be out in the cold when his current contract with the German team expires at the end of 2015.
To quash the rumours, Toto Wolff then inferred that Mercedes WERE sitting down with Lewis – he then promptly fell of his bike and broke some bones.
Lewis was asked today about the Vettel to Mercedes whispers. “I’m not worried about it,” he insisted. “Another German driver, I don’t know if that’s something Mercedes would like, but at the moment I’m here until the end of next year. So it’s not going to be any time soon. But that’s normal – Mercedes is the best and so everyone’s going to want to drive a Mercedes.”
Why Mercedes wouldn’t want 2 German drivers is not immediately apparent, unless of course the they wanted to run a 1-2 policy…Ferrari style… putting all their resource behind one driver.
Asked whether his management company had opened I dialogue with Mercedes, Hamilton revealed, “My representatives haven’t, but we’ve both shown interest in sitting down and talking”.
Not quite what Wolff inferred, and as TJ13 commented, should this matter not be resolved before the return following the summer break, the Hamfosi should have cause for concern.