Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 11th August 2014


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Previously on TJ13:

#F1 Features: The Generation Game – An Image Problem

The Top-20 #F1 Constructors who Failed to win a Championship – 11th Toleman

#F1: Fat Hippo’s Rant – Perils of supporting Vettel…

OTD Lite: 1953 – The Flying Mantuan

More legal woes and shame for Formula 1

Gene Haas: The hardships of building an American F1 team

Szafnauer: F1 is not an engine formula

Montezemolo defiant in face of Alitalia rumours

Vettel buys father a Ferrari (GMM)

20 plus Formula 1 races, ‘no problem’ says Hembery

OTD Lite: 1953 – The Flying Mantuan

nuvo24Ferdinand Porsche called him “the greatest driver of the past, the present and the future” but he was never a World Champion. He won the European Grand Prix championship once and only won four official Grand Prix events as opposed to Carraciola’s three titles and ten race wins. Yet Nuvolari is regarded as the greatest exponent of race car driving the world has ever seen – essentially because he plied his trade in Italian machinery when the Silver cars from Germany were dominant.

The one man that Enzo Ferrari would spend a lifetime looking for his replacement, mastered the four wheel drift and whose ability was such that an ill-handling rear engined Auto Union was brought under his spell – was a living legend before his departure from this mortal coil fell upon this day in 1953.

His greatest victory was undoubtedly the 1935 German Grand Prix but legends have grown from his escapades of racing. In 1932’s Mille Miglia he followed his main rival, Achille Varzi, for tens of kilometres in the dark without headlights on, at speeds up to 150km/h, only turning them on as they approached the finish at Brescia. Or in 1934, after breaking a leg in a race, he got bored in hospital and so entered the Avus-Rennen race in a Maserati. His leg in plaster and too badly injured to use the clutch, the mechanics modified the car to be operated with the right foot. He finished fifth with cramp in his left leg..

In 1952 he suffered a paralysing stroke and less than twelve months later a second stroke would claim his life. He was buried wearing his famous yellow jersey and up to 55,000 people attended the funeral. His coffin, placed on a car chassis was rolled to the cemetery by Alberto Ascari, Luigi Villoresi and Juan Manuel Fangio.

For a more detailed account of the man, BJF’s article from last year is simply superb – #F1 Features: Tazio Nuvolari… Legendario

The Jackal


More legal woes and shame for Formula 1

Following the deal done between the Munich courts and Ecclestone which sees the bribery charges brought against him dismissed, many fans and F1 folk within the sport were hugely disappointed.

Screen shot 2014-07-23 at 14.49.53Whether it has been the criticism over the sound of the new engines, the FIA fuel flow regulations or even double points for the final race, Ecclestone and his cronies have been creating the impression to onlookers that Formula 1 is in turmoil.

The consistent chatter about improving “the show” and some of the bizarre notions emanating from the ‘F1 school of bright ideas” give the impression F1 is a headless chicken, lacking in leadership and direction.

The disrepute, Ecclestone’s legal battles are bringing upon Formula 1, are set to continue. Last week, the directors of Constantin Media announced at their annual meeting, they are reserving the right to appeal Judge Newey’s decision given in favour of Ecclestone in January.

Swiss authorities are currently investigating Ecclestone’s financial dealings with a view to bring criminal charges and Bluewater Communications who claim they would have paid more for the sale of F1 than CVC are also close to lodging a suit against Mr. E.

BayernLB, the bank, who owned the majority shareholding in Formula 1 when Ecclestone paid their influential employee director, Gribkowsky, some $44m, as an “insurance policy” are also set to launch a $400m claim against Ecclestone.

Ecclestone offered BayernLB $33m to settle the matter last week, however a spokesperson for the bank tells Reuters, “BayernLB has rejected Mr Ecclestone’s settlement offer.”

The bank have the option to bring a civil suit against Ecclestone, where he could finally be on the wrong end of a judges decision.

Though following the debacle in the German legal system last week, it wouldn’t take a brazen cynic to believe that BaynernLB’s rejection of Ecclestone’s offer is to merely leverage their position with Ecclestone and gain an improved out of court settlement to relieve him of a few hundred million more of his dollars.

A verdict against Ecclestone would almost inevitably see CVC remove Ecclestone from his position of power in F1. Though this no nearer now – than it has ever been.


Gene Haas: The hardships of building an American F1 team

News has surfaced that Marussia (and former Caterham and Force India) test driver Alexander Rossi is in talks with Gene Haas to become part of the All-American (insert patriotic Muzak here) F1 team the latter is building for 2016. This time however it would be as one of the regular drivers.

The driver question is only one of the troubles Haas has at the time. F1 hasn’t been kind to its ‘nosy friends’ from across the pond. There hasn’t been an American team since Carl Haas’ (unrelated to Gene) Haas Lola team in 1986 and in the last twenty-one years there have only been two US drivers in F1 – Michael Andretti and Scott Speed.

Indycar Champion Michael Andretti had plenty of talent, but he ran himself ragged going back and forth between the US and Europe and just as he came to grips with the car and scored his first podium Big Ron ‘de-employerized’ the American and replaced him with a young gun called Mika Häkkinen. Scott Speed meanwhile didn’t quite live up to his name at Toro Rosso in 2006 and 2007 and never managed to score a point in a car that was later that year driven to a 4th place finish by his 2007 mid-season replacement – someone called Sebastian Vettel.

Gene Haas’ options are limited as far as drivers are concerned. There are only Alex Rossi and Connor Daly, who have gone through F1’s ladder system. There would also be Danica Patrick, currently driving for Haas in NASCAR, where she learns the hard way that people, who are good in open-wheel cars usually struggle in the V8 ox-carts. Patrick, a winner and podium finisher in IndyCar, however, has time against her. At the start of the 2016 season she would turn 34.

At a time when some believe Vettel to be a wash-out at twenty-six and Alonso to be growing long in the tooth, wouldn’t a thirty-four year old rookie be stretching it?

Yet women age differently and often keep competitive sports careers until the late thirties and early forties, even in demanding sports like speed skating, rowing or track & field.

gene-haas-and-tony-stewartThe driver question is not the only trouble for Gene Haas at the moment. Tony Stewart, fellow big-boned Hippo, NASCAR and Indycar champion and co-owner/driver of the Stewart-Haas NASCAR team, was involved in a bizarre accident during a dirt track race at Canadaigua Motorsports Park in Ontario County.

Following contact between Stewart’s car and the chariot of Kevin Ward Jnr., the latter had to park his stricken car and ran back onto the live track to make his disappointment known, wildly gesticulating and running right into the path of Stewart’s car. Unable to brake in time Stewart hit him and ran him over. Despite track-side personnel attending to Ward jr. immediately, all help came too late and the young driver paid for his foolishness with his life.


Szafnauer: F1 is not an engine formula

OtmarForce India’s Otmar Szafnauer has rubbished the notion that F1 is all about the engines. In an interview with formula1.com he answers the question whether it is all about the engine:

“To win you have to get it all right. Look at Mercedes – I believe that their car would still be good enough to win even with Renault or Ferrari power. They have a good aero package, good mechanical package, they understand the tyres, have good drivers and strategy – they’re going to win. Remove the powertrain and stick another one in and they’ll still be competitive. Is it more of an engine formula this year? Maybe a bit more than in the past when the engines were all frozen. But is it a complete engine formula? No way. We have the same engine as Mercedes, so do Williams and McLaren – and they’re not winning.”

TJ13 comment:
Presumably Otmar is stretching the point based upon the fact that there have been 2 race wins this year by ‘The Bulls’. Yet these were the result of mistakes and mishaps by Mercedes, and Williams in Canada.

Using McLaren as an example is rather a straw-man type argument due to the fact that they are hindered by the fact that Mercedes collects their engines after each race. So the ‘chrome arrows’ return to Woking as empty shells not to receive their aggregates back until the next event.

The FIA regulations which meant engine development has been frozen for the year, was well intended. It was designed to prevent one or all manufacturers entering a spending spree of cold war nuclear proportions.

Yet the result of freezing engine development in February, has meant Ferrari and Renault have been condemned to a year of public embarrassment, with no means to bridge the gap between themselves and Mercedes until 2015.

From a manufacturers’ title perspective, the season is a fore gone conclusion, yet more importantly, will this dominance prove a deterrent to any other engine manufacturer considering joining the sport.

Honda are set for a fall should they fail to get it right for 2015.


Montezemolo defiant in face of Alitalia rumours

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo (aka Il Padrino) has issued a war cry, he has no intention of leaving Ferrari and despite media speculation over the last few days suggesting his new role would be as President of the newly formed alliance between Etihad and Alitalia – LdM has spoken only of a non-executive position on the new board.

As a figurehead of Italian industry he has been instrumental in negotiations to bring about the merger of the two companies but he declared he would only accept a position that did not interfere with his responsibilities as President of the Maranello concern, “after my family, there is nothing more important than Ferrari.”

56024In any political sphere, the main players are not always aware of the unsheathing of the knives, and it appears that the play by John Elkaan and Sergio Marchionne as the bosses of the new FIAT-Chrysler Association (FCA) group will settle into the shadows for the moment.

Montezemolo was appointed as President of Ferrari back in 1991 by Elkann’s grandfather Gianni Agnelli and has run the company to greater success ever since but many felt his charismatic, autocratic style has held back the Gestione Sportiva’s development after he disbanded the holy grail of Schumacher, Todt, Brawn and Byrne.

The red team has progressively deteriorated from year to year, masked by the Herculean efforts of one Fernando Alonso. Were it not for Fernando making 2010 and 2012 a close affair, Ferrari would have been revealed as the rudderless organisation they have become.

With record profits expected once again this year, Il Padrino would appear safe in his exalted office and yet at a recent FIAT board meeting, Marchionne sneered that Ferrari’s road car division’s performance was worse than sister company Maserati.

With Marco Mattiacci working from within the racing organisation, reporting back to his close friends Elkann and Marchione, it can be only a matter of time before Il Padrino moves on to pastures new..


(From GMM news source – includes closing TJ13 comment)

Vettel buys father a Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel has bought his father a Ferrari.

Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, publishing a paparazzi photo of Red Bull’s reigning quadruple world champion during the transaction, said the German picked a Ferrari California and a personalised number plate.

At grands prix, 27-year-old Vettel commutes to and from the circuits in a road car supplied by Red Bull’s title sponsor Infiniti.

But for a gift to his father Norbert, Vettel chose the iconic colour red and the personalised number plate HP N1 — ‘HP’ representing his birthplace Heppenheim, and ‘N1’ for Norbert.

“A sign of a future at Maranello? Who knows!” read the Gazzetta report.

“In 1995, Michael Schumacher was seen roaming the streets of Monaco at the wheel of a F355. And we know how that turned out.

TJ13 comment: It is not only pre-pubescent girls and boys who spend their time imagining a perfect life with their pop star idols. The Italian media has begun the dark art of predicting the future based upon certain indicators that history may be about to repeat itself.

A number of recent Italian articles have begun to draw together the threads of a tale which likens Marco Mattiacci’s tenure in Maranello to that of Jean Todt – twenty years ago.

Now – the fingertips of these ‘journalists’ may cling to a vision that another German superstar is about to emulate his own hero by joining Ferrari and winning everything in sight.

And all because young-‘ish’ Seb, bought his father a Ferrari.


20 plus Formula 1 races, ‘no problem’ says Hembery

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the teams when the prospect of a race calendar exceeding 19 or 20 races per year is raised.

Those impacted the most would be the race crews who at present travel to most if not all events.

The team’s complain that this would increase their costs and require them to restructure and provide 2 race teams.

Marco Mattiacci was dismissive over the ‘problem’ recently, when he raised his hand, rubbed his thumb and first and second fingers together, smiled and stated, “this will solve the problem”.

More cash indeed will solve the problem.

An injection of incremental finance to develop a second race crew will in fact benefit the smaller teams more than their big brothers; because it will represents a relatively greater increase in their quantum mass.

Further, by forcing the teams to run 2 race crews, it would reduce the pressure for those travelling to 19 race venues a year because this would be reduced to 12 or 13 at most.

Paul Hembery believes that more than 20 races is possible, however, he adds that F1 needs to ensure that new races are viable.

“Personally I think if you have a doubt whether the fans will come then you have to go very close to the city centres or use street circuits because then they can’t avoid you; you have to watch it because it’s going to ruin your drive to work!” 

This is all very well when considering Mokpo and the Korean GP, but F1 failed to succeed in one of the world’s most Iconic cities, the gateway between East and West – Istanbul.

Such is the disdain for F1 amongst the Turkish rulers, that even though they were offered a race in 2014 for around $5-8m, they refused to sanction public funds for this project.

Then there is the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) in India, hardly a Mokpo mark II. Whilst 40 kilometres from Dehli may represent an hour’s drive, the reason for the failure of the Indian GP was not location.

On to the spectre of Sochi, and Hembery questions the long term future of this event. “It will be interesting to see what happens in Russia with Sochi. I think if you had asked anyone previously they would say they would love to have a backdrop of Red Square, The Kremlin and racing through there. That would have had a certain affect. Sochi – it has a name because of the Olympics of course – is going to be an interesting challenge to see whether that in itself can be successful”.

Austin and Styria are recognised by the Pirelli motorsport director as exceptions to the ‘city rule’, yet this admission appears to deflate Hembery’s theory even further.

TJ13 has argued for some time, it is risible to believe that by taking Formula 1 to a country with no motorsport tradition, this will somehow create a ground swell of interest in either Formula 1 or motorsport in general.

Further, the owners of F1 spend little or nothing – bar the “Bernie says…” campaigns – on promoting the sport either globally or in the new territories. The result is Istanbul, India and Korea.

The owners of COTA may have good reason for concern, because the return of F1 to Mexico City may see their race weekend audience slashed by over 50%. By flight, Austin to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez is a mere hop skip and a jump away.

During the global expansion of Formula 1 from what was primarily a European based racing series, Ecclestone et al have failed by cataclysmic proportions to deliver substantial interest in these new regions, whether measured by spectator numbers or ‘new territory’ TV viewers.

The sport is mostly watched by Europeans, who will suffer only so many races at stupid o’clock in the morning. A persistent shift away from European races will see the core audience develop the habit of watching the overtakes on the TV news or free to air highlights and – bang go the core TV revenues.

Formula 1 can expand beyond 20 races, though it requires a backbone of consistency and stability amongst the European and traditional venues.

Charge Russia, Baku and Outer Mongolia a gazzilion currency units for the privilege of hosting F1, which would be possible if there were only a handful of “exotic” race slots available.

Simultaneously the traditional venues must be kept viable with lesser and sensible hosting fees and their number be appropriate in the balance of the F1 calendar.

70 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Monday 11th August 2014

  1. The bank have the option to bring a civil suit against Ecclestone, where he could finally be found guilty.

    If it’s a civil suit: guilt and innocence are not at stake – merely liability.

    wouldn’t take a brazen cynic to believe that BaynernLB’s rejection of Ecclestone’s offer is to merely leverage their position with Ecclestone and relieve him for a few hundred million more of his dollars…

    Cynicism has nothing to do with it. They are claiming monetary loss, and that’s a matter for negotiation – or adjudication. The figure they put on it is up to them, and also up to them to substantiate.

  2. Half way trough the news and I already want to comment. 😂 I know what has must do. Especially for the young folks. He should ask ken block to drive for him. The viewership would explode ( at least for the first 2 races, until they see that his show drifting and real racing is something completely different)

    • The Haas team coming into F1 certainly generates some interesting ideas and theories. (And some less than creative “America” bashing.)

      Most of the post is a wikipedia copy/paste but the idea of Danica Patrick coming to F1 does seem to be everyone’s favorite theory du jour. There are some barriers there, first of which is her 5 contract with Stewart-Haas, but I guess it is possible with common parties between the two teams they might mutually agree to dissolve that contract in some way. The second barrier is her long-term contract with Go Daddy, I suppose it might be possible that the sponsorship could be transferred to F1 but somehow I doubt that they would be willing to pay the same type of money for one USA race worth of exposure on NBC Sports VS 30-odd NASCAR races on NBC’s main channel. AND taking 20M a year out of the Stewart-Haas NASCAR team would probably lead to them folding or at the very least not being able to field a competitive car.

      Ken Block to F1 is a funny theory but at age 46 and close to 200 lbs that is never going to happen.

      • I know that it’s never going to happen. And it shouldn’t be happening. But it was a solution to f1 s image problem

  3. It appears that Otmar engages in a bit of disinformation here,/i>

    I don’t agree.
    While it’s fair to claim that the regulations on engine development were ill thought out (IMO, they ought to have allowed for relatively unhindered development this season), it’s only an engine formula because Renault and Ferrari failed to come to the party.

    Otmar is, I think, giving credit to what is a superb (albeit extremely well funded) Mercedes chassis.

  4. I love being halfway through reading an article and some turn of phrase gives away that you are reading a Fat Hippo article. Then I have to go back to the start of the article and read it again with a much more aggressive inner voice.

  5. Thanks BJF and Mr Jackal! Tazio Nuvolari… utterly legendary. Motorsport is still a very dangerous playground, as the tragic incident involving Stewart-Hass Nascar driver Tony Stewart yesterday demonstrates, but what Nuvolari accomplished through sheer brilliant talent in that horrendously unsafe era can never be repeated.

    The twelve years of calm we had before San Marino ’94 had lulled me into a sense that F1 was (almost) danger free, but two decades later I find myself bemoaning the ‘over-formulated’ and sanitised spectacle that is my favourite sport, sometimes forgetting that much of the regulations are for driver safety. Mind you – watching the boys battling on the wet-ish Hungaroring a few weeks ago was awesome.

    But just to have had the chance to see Tazio Nuvolari drifting his Alfa or Auto Union beyond normal human limits… just a dream.

      • Today marks yet another day that SIS has climaxed over a comment on hamilton and had the urge to write a response…..
        One has to wonder whether SIS comes on this website everyday just to pick up a point on hamilton.
        But still, I’m not surprised 😉

    • With 2 machanical failures in successive qualifying and the obvious cheating at Monaco this statement needs context.

      with respect sir

        • Stewards said it was not intentional therefore we must believe it….
          After all the stewards always get everything right 🙂
          Shame on you SpannersReady for seeing through the BS!

        • First of all, they are not baseless. There is motive and significant evidence for it.

          Secondly, the stewards said they could not find any conclusive evidence for it. The only person who truly knows is Rosberg so I don’t suppose we will ever find out.

          • lol. I would have been far more sypathetic had he not reversed!! I don’t know enough about braking an F1 car so I don’t know if that was intentional but reversing back towards the track sure seemed deliberate?

          • There had to be significant evidence in order to force the stewards to investigate him.

          • …@adamac39
            “There had to be significant evidence in order to force the stewards to investigate him”.

            not always the case – a good and strong motive warrants investigation…

            If Hamilton and Rosberg have a coming together – expect there to be scrutiny like never before……

          • That always happens in the video game. Hold the brake down too long and the car shifts into reverse and starts backing up.

        • Read fat Hippo’s words carefully here.
          Then think about them in context of ‘that’ tyre test.
          See….It works!

    • Today marks 8.5 months since Vettel last won a race. Let that sink in…

      Tomorrow marks 15 months since Alonso last won a race. Let that sink in…

      Right now marks a pointless reply to a pointless post. Let that sink in…

  6. The problem for Austin is not the fact that people will fly to Mexico city from Texas, but instead that people will fly to Mexico city from other parts of Latin America (and Mexico in particular). Mexico City is a much cheaper place to stay in with many more places to stay at much more reasonable rates. The hostel I stayed in in Austin was by far the most expensive I have ever stayed in, purely down to supply and demand.

    When the ‘wow factor’ of the new race wears away it will be interesting to see how many Texans still make the pilgrimage to the race. The Austin GP has so much potential to succeed, but it requires the cooperation of the FIA to give people more incentive to go. If the Austin and Mexico City races are put back to back it will spell trouble for Austin.

    • having a f1 race in Austin to serve all of the USA is like having the only European race in Volgograd Russia. there aren’t enough hotels. the prices are extravagant for the GP weekend. the flights are limited. it has almost no public transportation.

      • Very true. Which is why it is so important that a New Jersey GP can eventually come onto the scene…or at least a second GP somewhere in the country

  7. F1 would have many options for very successful venues in South America. unlike the USA, in Peru, Argentina, Colombia etc you see Shell, Renault, and the other “consumer” available level sponsors with active billboards and tv adverts. they always have F1 highlights and results in the nightly news and daily sports programs and newspapers. In the US you will never hear a single word about F1 in the local news or on ESPN.

    • notably, Shell is very supportive of F1 here in Brazil, they do lots of ads and promotions, they give merchandise and tickets, if you manage or own a gas station they bring you and your guests to the race, and this helps to solidify a following

  8. turkey and india both no longer take place for political reasons. turkey wanted the race as part of the current governments delusion that they are on their way to becoming a global power. they then used the event for a political affront by having a representative of the turkish cyprus government presenting a trophy. when they were told that f1 didn’t really appreciate being used as a means to spite the greek (and the EU), the turkish government in turn considered that being told what to do and went into pouting mode. the result was that the contract for the turkish grand prix was not extended. in addition, turkey has been running out of money for some time now and is dreading the day when this fact can no longer be hidden.

    the indian grand prix was cancelled because the current government didn’t like the promoter of the race, who had close ties to the previous government. therefore, they started to make life difficult for him as well as for the f1 circus.

    I fully agree though that Bernies current model of selling the privilege of hosting a race for an exorbitant fee to the worlds gullible, autocrats and megalomaniacs (preferably all three wrapped up in one) is unsustainable and ruining the sport. it has also become clear that, now that the age of globalization is coming to an end, said business model is creating political problems beyond bernies control, and therefore, unpredictability. it would be wise to concentrate on core countries of “the west” for a while, until the future blocks have formed and things become more stable.

    • globalisation was a farce designed to stick G7 products and agenda into development countries’ throats, as well as dumping manufacturing costs and wages in undeveloped

      • R/T
        I thought globalisation just refers to companies exporting products and services across the globe – combined with internet access around the world, the global village. I’m always a bit skeptikal with ‘complots’.

        • @verstappen

          “I thought globalisation just refers to companies exporting products and services across the globe – combined with internet access around the world, the global village. I’m always a bit skeptikal with ‘complots’.”

          globalization in my argument refers to an era that was characterized by a unipolar international system, which was dominated by a single hegemon whose hard and soft power were strong enough to seduce or force the rest of the world into opening their markets and to prevent them from counterbalancing, even if that was not in their best interest.

          that era is coming to an end, and is replaced by a transition period characterized by the formations of different political and economic blocks. as a result, global business models such as f1 will become more and more difficult to sustain. this is because when signing a, let’s say, five year deal to export goods or services, you can no longer be sure that you will be able to maintain relations for the agreed upon five years, due to the increasingly unpredictability and conflictive nature of international relations and the resulting (trade) wars.

          no ideologies or conspiracies but simple analysis based on theories of international relations.

        • But the paddies gave them 60+ billion.

          Surely they haven’t spent all my money yet on wurst and pils?

      • They can borrow from the Russians though. Since the ban on EU food Putin & co are putting agreements in place for supply of fruit and veg from Turkey.

  9. ‘The Flying Mantuan’
    team radio for the1932 Targa Florio would be ‘too’ epic if he managed not to throw it out

  10. Hell based on everything I’m reading Alexander Rossi is on his way to Ferrari. First he goes to the Ferrari junior team marussia now Haas wants him. Add to that his last name sounds Italian. Just saying.

    • Some stupendous leaps there buddy, but stranger things have happened.

      Alex Yoong, for example…

      • Now there’s a thought….How come his name is not amongst those on the Scalextric grid?
        Only answers by postcard will be accepted….

    • the same applies to MLB

      they need to keep the breweries, sausages, sauces and soft drinks industries rolling


      • I have never, ever understood the American racing need to crash and then jump out on track and point fingers, scream, throw helmets, get within in he’s if passing cars etc. I have never, ever understood why these drivers don’t immediately run to the barrier and exit the track.

        This is tragic really. As long as data shows Tony was heavy on the picks, he’s blameless. Darwin looks at these from above and just says, “I told you so.”

        Terrible really. Totally mental. Really not nessecary. There is a bad racing and take out culture in car racing in the states. Indy is ok, because the open wheels force respect.

  11. Off topic, but I just watched a fantastic interview with Derek Warwick. Watch this, it’s great.

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