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OTD Lite: 2001 – The sponsorless Ferrari and the ‘thug’
Apart from the badge on the nose cone, the Ferraris appeared at the 2001 Italian Grand Prix shorn of all recognisable sponsorship in salute of the victims of the 9/11 atrocities. Yet, despite the intentions of the team, they had to get written permission from all their sponsors before being allowed to run in effectively national racing colours.
The nose was painted black in remembrance of those killed as the race weekend ran in a sombre mood. Michael Schumacher remained in a reflective mood all weekend and many believed he had finished fourth on purpose to avoid the podium and subsequent press conference.
Today also marked the first Grand Prix win of Juan Pablo Montoya who despite wearing a black armband seemed genuinely delighted at his break through victory. Never the brightest bulb in the box, this thuggish racer waved enthusiastically as he accepted the trophy.
Podromou faces huge challenge at Mclaren
Mclaren proudly announced the start of a new era with their recruitment of Peter Podromou beginning his second stint with the team. He originally worked for Mclaren between 1991 and 2006 before following design genius Adrian Newey to Red Bull.
Of course down in Woking the champagne had barely touched the floor before both parties expressed their delight in combining forces once more.
“It’s fantastic to return to McLaren, and to see a mixture of faces old and new,” Prodromou said. “Of course, I have first-hand experience of just what a passionate, focused and capable race team exists within these walls, and I’ve already seen the enthusiasm and positivity that exists to return McLaren to world championship-winning glory. I, too, am determined to work flat-out to do everything I can to help initiate a new chapter of success in McLaren’s history.”
With Mclaren’s last victory coming at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix McLaren’s CEO Jonathan Neale stated that his appointment shows the team is ready to return to winning ways. “I’m delighted to welcome Peter back to McLaren, he joins us at an extremely exciting time: we’re making exciting progress with our new engine partner, and our entire design department has been galvanised and motivated by an ongoing restructure that has really begun to bed-in and deliver results.”
“We’re under no illusions that we’re yet there, but Peter’s appointment is a very significant one, and is also a very public reminder that we’re adding strength in depth to our organisation all the time.”
Whilst a team would never willingly make a statement suggesting that they weren’t delighted with their new signing, the hiring of Podromou has merely stemmed the flood of engineers leaving the team for pastures new – although no-one is on record as to their true thoughts of the man responsible for the 2013 Mclaren – Paddy Lowe.
Either way, during his first career at Mclaren, he was involved in the 1991 winning car and the Newey designed cars that won titles in 1998 and 1999. But mysteriously, with the genius of Newey not being able to work his magic in Woking, it was only when Peter and Ade teamed up once again in red Bull that their collaboration bore fruit.
James Allison joined Ferrari last year at a similar stage of the year and effectively had no input into this years car and likewise Podromou will have limited input into next years Macca so it may well be 2016 before we can truly assess if this man has the nous to follow where Newey led..
Teams confront Bernie over falling race attendances
Ever since Sky replaced the BBC season long coverage of F1 on free to air, the viewers subscription model has coincided with an era of depleting TV audience figures across Europe. When the BBC initially came to an arrangement with Sky it was given the new spending constraints issued by the UK government, the broadcaster couldn’t justify funding Bernie’s demands. That said, paying for a few hundred people to carry their productions to other global sporting events was deemed acceptable.
This writer saw a Sky producer defending the agreement as the only way to keep free-to-air service on the air waves. A member of the TJ13 responded and questioned whether RAI and the other European broadcasters were subject to the same tax payers ransom with regards monies spent on entertainment. Unsurprisingly, Sky refused to comment.
This year has witnessed some epic battles throughout the field, a dominant team that has drivers at war and yet events are struggling to entice sponsors. The pay driver is more prevalent than ever and the crowds are staying away.
At long last the paymasters – the manufacturers – have begun to understand that without an audience there is no requirement for the vanity of the ‘beautiful people.’ So the teams have approached Mr E about the prices of tickets driving the spectators away.
High tickets prices obviously discourage people from attending which is directly attributable to the massive hosting fees charged to race promoters by Mr. E. Further, race promoters used to be able to pocket track advertising/race sponsors fees together with charges to the concession stands. All this now goes to the FOM “Empire” leaving the promoter with little else other than the cash from gate receipts.
Back in F1, Ron Dennis the British Bulldog who has fought many a back street dog fight with Mr. E has revealed, “We have dared to discuss ticket prices, and we discussed the impact and the importance of the traditional circuits like Spa, like Monza, like Hockenheim, races like that need to be part of the race calendar. This is a global sport.”
“We need to go abroad and we need to conquer new territories and new countries, this always has been the case, but I guess it is pretty clear what needs to be done to fill the grandstands in the traditional races such as Hockenheim and Monza.”
Dennis suggests F1/FOM go do some proper market research as to why F1 is struggling to attract spectators. “How can we go to Silverstone and Austria and it be absolutely full, and then we go to Germany and it’s half full? There must be a reason. We can all guess, but that’s not very scientific. We’ve really got to understand why these things happen. Is it ticketing prices? Is it national heroes etc? Whatever it is we have to address it.”
It wasn’t long ago that a day at the Grand Prix meant a full itinerary with motor-sport from morning until dusk. The teams and drivers were more accessible and air shows and variation in food and non corporate vendors encouraged people to join in the festival.
In the 21st century, as in society, the cult of celebrity has overtaken the sport and the public has been herded further and further away from being able to touch and feel the burning rubber and oil. ‘Die hards’ still pay to go, but an individual with a casual interest will never darken the doors of an F1 race any more. For a family of 4, the cost of going to F1 represents a luxury holiday week away.
(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)
Heidfeld defends Formula E after Vettel attack
Nick Heidfeld has defended the new Formula E series following criticism from within the F1 paddock. F1’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel recently slammed the fully electric powered series – which kicked off on the streets of Beijing last weekend with an all-star grid and global interest – as “cheese”.
Ultimately, German Heidfeld – a veteran of no less than 185 grands prix and 13 podiums – was arguably the star of the show, spectacularly crashing in a last-lap lunge to take victory from Nicolas Prost, the son of the F1 legend. But Vettel said recently: “I’m not a fan of it (Formula E), and as a viewer I would not be interested.”
Heidfeld, who drives for the team co-founded by Hollywood actor Leonardo Dicaprio, was asked by the German-language Spox to react to Vettel’s attitude. “I like Sebastian and I don’t know in what context he said that,” the 37-year-old answered.
“But I think that Formula E cannot currently compete against formula one and actually it does not want to. The concept is quite different. But the series is justified when you consider the development of electric mobility and the interest the manufacturers have in it. How successful it is, we will have to see. I think even formula one is currently struggling with some negative headlines, but it is the peak of motor sport and that will long remain the case. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be something else as well,” Heidfeld added.
It has been said that, at least for now, Formula E will never pose a danger to the success of F1 because of the speed of the cars. In its report, Spox said the laptimes show that Formula E is “more formula 3” than F1.
“Compared with formula one, the performance is modest,” Heidfeld agreed. “We have almost 300 horse power in qualifying and the cars are 900 kilos. And the Michelin tyres we are using are not slicks, which is slower but we can use them in the wet and the dry. Ultimately they are normal single seater cars, which are always difficult to drive on the limit. But another reason I chose to race is because of the opponents — in terms of the quality of the drivers, we don’t need to hide from formula one,” he said.
Heidfeld explained that the trend is therefore different to F1, where so-called ‘pay drivers’ are wielding unprecedented levels of power in the increasingly expensive sport.
“Compared to some years ago, the difference is obvious,” he said. “It is difficult to get into formula one now only with talent. I don’t want to criticise the teams, clearly they would prefer to sign drivers based only on what they can do on the track. But they also have to pay them. Formula one is too expensive for most of the teams, which is a shame — but that’s the way things are.”
Finally, Heidfeld commented on the declining age of rookies in F1, with Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and now Mercedes reserve Pascal Wehrlein all signed up as teenagers.
“Basically,” Heidfeld explained, “maturity and experience goes up the older you are. We saw that it worked out with Kimi (Raikkonen in 2001), but even he was older than Max,” said the German, who was Raikkonen’s first teammate in 2001. “On the whole it would be better and safer if there is a minimum age in formula one. Clearly it’s possible that there are exceptional drivers like Kimi and maybe Max who can do it. But it is very difficult to predict beforehand,” Heidfeld added.
TJ13 comments: Here in the Judge’s chambers, the mood is remarkably sanguine in regards the latest comments from the German superstar. Earlier this year the chambers came under attack from bovine excrement at the mere mention of Vettel’s use of the word ‘S%*T’ but this time we should be safe quoting his application of language here… although is the cheese a mild mature cheddar or a strong distinct Parmiggiano… or one which is chilli infused…. we just don’t know.
It is should be a concern that Heidfeld is considered the star of the show because he had an accident that could have been fatal and it would seem that his reasoning is still not fully returned when he speaks of the stars of Formula E being comparable to Formula One.
Of course we have the legendary Senna and Prost battle which should get all the old timers shuffling around the nursing homes once again shouting their allegiance – although Heidfeld may have unwittingly given the game away as to the future of these electric Formula cars.
Here in the UK, ‘development of electric mobility’ means one thing – mobility scooters – and judging by the speed and charging times of these cars it may be possible to carry your shopping in a basket on the back too..
Hippo explains: When someone is describing something as Käse (cheese) in German. It’s basically just a less rude form of saying “it’s rubbish”.
Might get interesting….
2009 Hot and Dry
2011 Hot and Dry
2012 Hot and Dry
Twitter on the radio ban
Yes Will – the lunatics (plural) have officially taken over the asylum.
Mmm. Surely the “F1 school of silly ideas’ thought of this – there must be a problem with it.
Fernando is old school – or just utterly desperate.