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McLaren now deciding who will partner Alonso (GMM)
Spain’s El Mundo Deportivo claims that after a deal between the Spaniard and McLaren was finally struck in Brazil, he is set to travel to the team’s British headquarters on Wednesday to sign what is probably the most lucrative contract in F1 history.
Flavio Briatore, involved in Alonso’s management throughout his F1 career, hinted at the McLaren move in an interview with Italian radio Rai.
“Fernando wants to go to a team where there is the possibility to win in the future, even if it is not immediately,” said the Italian.
Briatore suggested Alonso’s patience with Ferrari had slowly faded over five championship-less seasons.
“Ferrari will always remain in Alonso’s heart, it is a team he loves, even though every year it was always spoken about the next one and nothing happened.
“There was also a little disappointment in not seeing an aggressive recruitment of engineers and staff that could raise the bar of the team,” Briatore added.
It is believed the only obstacle to a McLaren-Honda announcement being made now is the collaboration’s decision on who will be Alonso’s teammate.
On the face of it, and judging by his comments and body language in Brazil last week, Jenson Button looks set to be ousted, leaving the young Dane Kevin Magnussen as Alonso’s teammate.
But Alonso is said to prefer to have Button on his side, as the former world champions’ combined experience will push along the development of the new Honda V6 engine.
“I hope he (Button) stays (in F1),” France’s Le Figaro quotes Alonso as having said at Interlagos.
“He is a very talented driver and a good person. People like him are good for our sport.”
Button, however, is not so sure Alonso will have the power to influence the decision.
“It’s a tricky one. Who knows what’s going on inside Fernando’s head?” Button is quoted by British newspapers after the Brazilian Grand Prix.
In the end, McLaren’s decision could be a financial one, with Button costing the team multiple millions per year more than the rookie Magnussen.
Button, however, has hinted that he might be prepared to take a pay-cut.
“I still want to earn money from it,” he said, “but I’m not a driver who takes the mick and I will race somewhere even if I’m not getting the big bucks, unlike a few drivers who are out there.”
Part of the family
If he does go, it will be a sad farewell for F1’s long-serving Button, who might be forgiven for sounding disappointed in McLaren for not going him more notice after an illustrious 15-year career.
“It’s like if your parents were to turn round and say ‘We’re not sure we want you at Christmas this year. But your brother can come, he’s great’,” Button said.
“Feeling part of a family is more important than money.”
Former McLaren driver David Coulthard agrees that McLaren has treated Button disrespectfully, having accusing the Woking team of seeing drivers as “light bulbs”.
“Maybe it (that comment) has had some reaction from the team, but I stand by my view,” the Scot told the Telegraph newspaper.
“The right thing is to treat people well. To have him (Button) hanging on like this is unfair. Going into the last race should be a celebration – if it is to be his last – but we may not know.
“He deserves better,” Coulthard added.
McLaren and Mercedes play down three car teams (GMM)
Angry small teams departed Brazil believing the sport’s establishment is trying to push them out, leaving five powerful teams supplying cars to customers.
Outspoken former F1 team boss Flavio Briatore agrees that something needs to change.
“Either opt for four or five teams with three or four cars each, or drastically change the Formula One we see today,” he told Italian radio Rai.
“If you look at the audience and what is happening to the teams, this is not a great time,” he insisted. “The economic model is broken.”
Briatore argued that it is not F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s fault.
“His power is not so big anymore so his guilt is minimal,” he said. “I would say it is the teams’ fault.”
It is believed Red Bull and Ferrari are prepared to run third cars next year, but that may not be enough willingness to see the initiative get up and running.
Spain’s Marca, for instance, reports that McLaren and Mercedes are not so keen.
“I do not think it’s possible,” said McLaren’s Eric Boullier.
“I think next year, with nine teams, you can make a good championship. In 2016 we have the American team (Haas), so I think we need to think a lot before doing something as radical as three cars.”
Mercedes’ Toto Wolff agrees: “The first thing is you need the infrastructure to do it, then you need the rules.
“Who has it? Who drives it? What points will it score? There is so much that I do not see it as feasible,” he added.
Finally, Sauber’s new signing Felipe Nasr suggests he only decided to put pen to paper for 2015 after the issue of three cars for 2015 became clear.
“We starting working on 2015 very early but I had all this waiting to see if there would be three cars,” he told Brazil’s Estado.
“And then came the information that it is not coming,” Nasr revealed, “so we came to Sauber, who had the best possible package on offer.”
TJ13 comment: Christian Horner has also
Crowd Funding of Caterham stalls
Having rocketed to over £1m in around 3 days, the Caterham crowd funding project to ensure the team can depart for Abu Dhabi this weekend, appears to be stalling.
With just over three and a half days left, the project as of 11:35 GMT today has raised £1,187,532 from 3200 backers.
However, there are just 3 days and a little over 12 hours left before the deadline which requires a total funding of £2,350,000
It’s unclear as to whether this sum requires the additional amount from pay-drivers, or whether their contribution will be the balance of the deficit.
Safety car lapped car rule change rejected
You know a sport is in crisis when common sense and agreement becomes impossible over the simplest of decisions.
One of the many items on the agenda for the teams to discuss over the Brazilian GP weekend was a matter which would minimise the delay in race restarts.
TJ13 amongst many others has consistently lamented the practice of allowing the lapped cars to leave ‘the snake’, pass the safety car and unlap themselves re-joining at the back of the field.
This takes place when the circuit is clear from the aftermath of whatever caused the safety car to be deployed. The problem is, this can take 2 or even 3 laps to complete depending on the circuit and the timing of the lapped cars release.
A simple solution would see these cars in order drop to the rear of the snake behind the safety car. This could be completed by all lapped cars driving through the pits on the first lap after the full ‘snakes’ has formed – and joining the rear of the safety car trail when it has passed the pit exit.
Unsurprisingly, agreement could not be reached on how the new protocol should work.
The current protocol actually moves the cars forward one lap, so those a lap down return to racing on the current lap of the leaders.
The debate in Brazil appeared to centre on how this 1 lap credit could be maintained. Simply adding a lap to these cars according to Whiting, would cause big problems for the timing data and risked causing confusion on the detailed lap chart analysis provided by FOM’s new data application.
One of the team principals from a larger team raised the additional issue that because the cars are limited to 100kg of fuel for the race, crediting the lapped cars with one lap which they do not run then gives them a lap of ‘free’ fuel.
The concern was that this would ‘significantly’ disadvantage cars on the lead lap and potentially lead to artificial results.
Why not just send the lapped cars to the back of the snake and leave them lapped? And isn’t it artificial to allow them to unlap themselves?
Red Bull Racing costs Mateschitz just £13m
The ludicrous situation in which Formula One finds itself in is perfectly highlighted by the recent company accounts published by Red Bull Racing, detailling the company’s spending of money.
Further, remember Red Bull like Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes are capable of off balance sheet accounting for spending items, not listed as part of their accounts.
The Independent reports that in the recently published accounts for the Milton Keynes racing team, the budget for 2014 was set at £196m. Over the past five years whilst cost control has been on the agenda, this spend has grown and is now £64m higher than in 2010.
Formula One teams derive their income primarily from prize money, sponsorship and ‘owner payments’.
Due to the ‘improved’ deals under the bi-lateral agreements replacing Concorde together with increased Infiniti payments, Dietrich Mateschitz and his fizzy drinks company have been able to reduce the contribution to Red Bull Racing from £64m pa to just £13m.
Compare this to Force India’s accounts TJ13 reported yesterday, which have shown two consecutive annual deficits of between £32-38m and this after Orange India – the Silverstone team owners’ funding vehicle – had put in around £17m.
The myth that the mid-field and smaller teams just ‘spend too much’ as propagated by Ecclestone has been blown wide open by Gerrard Lopez over the past week or so.
To merely pay for their engines, build a car and travel to each of the F1 events, the level of funding required is now around £75m. This is before any costs associated with in season development of the car.
Red Bull Racing’s biggest cost in the latest set of accounts is revealed to be £83m and staff numbers rose by 17% to 675 – which doesn’t account for at least 100 full time staff working in Milton Keynes who are forced to remain self-employed.
Truly the have’s are getting more and more – whilst the have not’s are driven out of existence.
This is no oversight by Ecclestone and the larger teams and Fernley’s claim that there is an agenda to drive the smaller teams out of Formula One becomes more credible with each passing day.
Still, it’s a bargain for Mr. Mateschitz and most probably Ferrari who are spending minimalistic amounts above the receipts they get from the sport of Formula One – for a global marketing platform.
Is the pressure now off Lewis ?
Following Sundays battle between title protagonist Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, former Redbull and Mclaren driver David Coulthard feels that the pressure is now off his fellow Brit, Lewis Hamilton with only one race to go.
Writing in his column in The Telegraph, DC is of the view that coupled with being in the fastest car on the grid and given Lewis’ speed, finishing 2nd should not be that difficult a task to accomplish. However fellow BBC commentator Alan McNish does offer a different opinion and feels that the Brit is still under intense pressure to secure the result that he requires.
DC argues, “Even Michael Schumacher, statistically the most successful driver in the sport, won less than a third of the time. Logic dictates, therefore, that it is harder to win, which is what Nico Rosberg has to do.
The pressure is off Lewis. All he has to do is go and drive. Even if he approaches it with a hint more conservatism, he should still qualify on the front row, finish second and take the title, so dominant is his car. They have won every ‘normal’ race this year, ie when there has not been a technical issue with the car, or when the two team-mates have not collided.”
“Approaching a race needing a certain result can do strange things to some drivers. If you start making conscious decisions on top of driving the car, you open the window for mistakes. Your concentration can falter. Yet Lewis is not that sort of driver. He is an instinctive, complete driver”
“Lewis deserves the championship. Most fans, other drivers, journalists and team principals, would agree, principally because he has won more races.”
However deserving he may think he is of the title, things don’t always go the way they should. Lewis has been in this position before and on both occasion he almost walked away empty handed, will that be the case come the seasons end? Will the misfortune of 2007 play on his mind or will he demonstrate that he has conquered those demons?
From TJ13 reporter: Fortis96