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D-Day for Caterham (Breaking News: Update 14:19) (Update 15:11)
Horner says Ferrari anticipate 3 car teams
The ebb and flow surrounding the discussion of 3 car teams for 2015, remains an item on Ecclestone’s agenda – primarily driven by Ferrari and Red Bull.
Having displayed some reticence over the idea in Austin, Christian ‘for the good of the sport’ Horner has now done another flip-flop on the matter.
Horner mutters vague meaningless words which are intended to convey empathy. “I hope that Marussia and Caterham get their act together,” yes, yes yes spice boy, not what is your real agenda?
“If not, and we had to run a third car, we would be in a position to,” said the spice boy; “But we will need to know pretty quickly – it’s already November. Logistically it would be painful, but if we are called upon to do it then yes, we would be able to support it.”
As TJ13 revealed yesterday, Ferrari are locked in gridlock with their world champion Spanish driver, and to all intense and purposes are holding the line, ‘If Fernando is available, we will run him under his full contractual terms as one of our drivers.
The sticking point to both parties extricating themselves from what is clearly a ridiculous situation, is Ferrari’s demands that Alonso pay the penalties for breaching [should he leave] his services rendered contract.
This amount is believed to be in the 30m plus currency units, and clearly neither McLaren or Honda are not prepared to fund this exit clause – and as time goes by the possibility of seeing Alonso, Vettel and Raikkonen driving three ‘666’ red cars in 2015, grows incrementally larger.
Never one to miss an opportunity, Horner quips, “Maybe they’ve [Ferrari] just been very smart and anticipated three-car teams! It is just that the third driver should be a rookie and it is difficult to say who will be the rookie out of the three champions they have signed.”
Would it be so difficult for Ferrari and Red Bull to leverage their position and have the regulations re-written to permit all three cars the opportunity to score points? Or have their drivers’ lawyers omitted to ensure that their contracts which demand a race seat have ensured this is one which is eligible to count towards both the constructors’ and drivers’ championship?
‘No change’ in Bianchi’s condition – Lowdon (GMM)
Almost six weeks on, there is “no change” in Jules Bianchi’s condition.
That is the news of Graeme Lowdon, who as sporting director and president has overseen not only the aftermath of Frenchman Bianchi’s horror Suzuka crash, but also the closure of the struggling Marussia team.
Although sounding upbeat that there may be light at the end of the tunnel for the stricken Banbury-based team, Lowdon has less to report on the condition of 25-year-old Bianchi, who remains in a coma in Japan.
“There’s no change in his condition,” Lowdon told Britain’s Sky. “He’s still stable but critical, and I think the thoughts of everyone in the team and also his very wide fan base are with Jules at the moment,” he added.
It has also been a poignant and sad week for the family, friends and fans of the F1 legend Michael Schumacher, as the 20th anniversary of his first title triumph in 1994 came and went. The prominent German entertainment ‘Bambi’ awards marked the occasion on Thursday by presenting a trophy to Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm.
Also present was the great German’s rival David Coulthard, his former teammate Nico Rosberg, his friend Ross Brawn and protege Sebastian Vettel.
“Michael, you were my idol,” the reigning world champion said in a moving speech.
“My room was covered in your posters, but today I am embarrassed that hanging next to you was Britney Spears in a mini skirt,” Vettel smiled.
Schumacher’s current health condition was not mentioned during the ceremony, but as his official website was relaunched this week, an official posting said the family is “confident” for the future.
“Your strength is helping us keep supporting him,” the message from his family adds.
Briton Brawn, a former Ferrari and Mercedes colleague and one of Schumacher’s closest friends, said at the Bambi awards: “He is now fighting a new battle, and he will insist upon doing it his own way.”
Sainz may be shock contender for McLaren seat (GMM)
Carlos Sainz jr may have emerged as a shock candidate to be Fernando Alonso’s teammate next year. The Red Bull-backed rookie Spaniard now appears out of the running to make his debut for Toro Rosso next year, with the energy drink company likely to instead pair the young Max Verstappen with the more experienced Jean-Eric Vergne.
But Italy’s Omnicorse claims a golden option may have emerged out of the blue for 20-year-old Sainz, the son of the world rally legend and the newly-crowned Formula Renault 3.5 champion — the youngest in its history.
McLaren, having survived without a title sponsor in 2014, and new partner Honda are reportedly breaking the bank to sign the highly-expensive Alonso for 2014. Team boss Eric Boullier hinted in Brazil that the team is open to welcoming Spanish sponsors to accompany the 33-year-old.
“Santander, Madrilena … there are no serious negotiations, but if they want to come, there is no problem!” he laughed.
Omnicorse claims one of them could be the Telefonica-owned Spanish mobile operator Movistar, which may “open a door for Carlos Sainz jr as the second driver“. One prominent Spanish motor racing figure, the former F1 manager and Epsilon Euskadi chief Joan Villadelprat, is tipping success for Alonso and McLaren in the years ahead.
“I have no doubt the Honda will be a powerful engine,” he told El Confidencial, “because they have had time to do things well rather than repeat the errors of Renault and Ferrari.
“And I see the marriage of Alonso and McLaren as more fruitful than the first (in 2007),” Villadelprat insisted.
“To start, this time Fernando is the undisputed number 1. Secondly, I think they (Alonso and McLaren) are both very intelligent and have both learned from the past and forgotten it.
“Fernando needed somewhere to go, Ferrari was not going anywhere, the relationship with Marco Mattiacci is zero.
“The McLaren option is good because they have taken every experience this year with the Mercedes engines, Honda will have learned from it and with their resources I am convinced it will be a tremendous engine,” he added.
Renault ‘not interested’ in going back to V8 – Wolff (GMM)
Toto Wolff has hit back at claims F1 is heading into a spending war because of Mercedes’ attitude amid the engine ‘unfreeze’ debate. Christian Horner, the boss at Renault works team Red Bull, said in Brazil that because dominant Mercedes is not helping F1’s struggling suppliers to catch up, the entire cost-limiting freeze could be ended altogether beyond 2015.
“With a majority vote, 2016/17/18 can be opened,” he said, “which is ridiculous because we will all end up spending a lot more money over a longer period of time.”
Horner’s Mercedes counterpart Wolff, however, clearly suspects Horner is applying pressure and making threats that are not likely to be carried through.
“No serious company would allow that to happen and none of the current engine suppliers could allow that to happen because costs would escalate totally out of control,” he said.
Wolff even claimed he knows that Red Bull’s works supplier, Renault, does not want the engine ‘freeze’ to be totally relaxed.
“Where Mercedes and Renault are currently 100 per cent aligned is that with the current V6 technology it is state of the art, road relevant and is the future,” he insisted.
Wolff suggested Horner’s other threat – that F1 might be better off reverting to cheaper and more performance-equalised V8 engines – is also empty.
His comments follow Niki Lauda’s warning that if the V8s do return, “Mercedes will be gone“.
“If we drop the current format,” Wolff confirmed, “I can assure you certain manufacturers like Renault and Mercedes would not be interested in supplying any other power unit.”
TJ13 Comment: Christian ‘for the good of the sport’ Horner is certainly morphing into Bernie Ecclestone – or maybe Ecclestone is ‘assimilating’ him. The notion that the V8’s will return to Formula One is utter nonsense.
Further, Ecclestone does appear to be losing a certain amount of ‘intimidatory’ impact and maybe control in F1 as he cajoles and badgers the TP’s each weekend to accept 3 car teams and then the idea of a F1/GP1 grid, where we have WEC style races – with different catagories on track simultaneously.
When all the hullabaloo about the future of F1 dies down, the most likely scenario due to intransigence will see 18 cars and 9 teams on the grid in Melbourne.
As has been suggested here on TJ13 previously, double points is unlikely to affect this years title, due to the dominance of the Mercedes car.
However, here’s how double points would have affected a few other F1 world champions
D-Day for Caterham
Today is the deadline for the Caterham team to reach its Crowdfunding project of £2.35m. Even though as of 10:00 GMT, this is over £950k short, Finbar O’Connell, the administrator from Smith & Williamson, believes the team will still go racing in Abu Dhabi.
O’Connell said last night: “We are talking to a number of parties who could make a substantial investment. It is possible then if we got to £1.8million tomorrow and had pledges of £0.5million from sources then we could make an executive decision to go.
I don’t want to take the drama away but it could be that we get close with fans’ donations and then it is topped up by some serious investors. We are trying to sign contracts which will fill a big chunk. I still strongly believe we will be racing.”
There was an expected sceptical response from Bernie Ecclestone, who quipped, “The question if they get to Abu Dhabi is whether they will have enough money to come home. I have been talking to the administrator regularly. If they get to Abu Dhabi, they are in the championship.”
This morning, Chris Medland – editor of Crash.net tweeted, “The crowdfund figure is expected to get a big boost during today. Full story soon”, though whether the team can deploy new pay drivers – which would take them to more than four drivers in one season – is at present unclear.
This project has been run by Caterham employees, who have dedicated their time and energies probably for free, though there has been widespread scorn within F1 poured on this crowdfunding attempt.
Ecclestone stated, “It is bad for the image of F1”. Yet behind closed doors, others believe the drama of the Caterham Crowdfunding is assisting the current efforts of Lotus, Sauber and Force India, who are publicising abroad exactly how Formula One distributes its wealth amongst the teams – something previously shrouded in mystery.
Gerrard Lopez has led this public engagement in the debate over Formula One finances and he makes his position crystal clear, when he states. “It’s a one-off [the crowdfunding] and I think it’s sad. If you think about what it’s being used for. Formula 1, which is a $1.6billion business, and distributes over $900million, and we’re being asked if crowdfunding is a good idea to bring a team back. Seriously? Then it’s even more disastrous than I think it is, in terms of ethics.”
‘Breath’ and ‘wasted’ – spring to mind Gerrard.
Citing ethics in Ecclestone’s world, is an absurd notion.
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
Bernie Ecclestone commented to Austosport today on the plight of Marussia and Caterham.
“Nobody will miss the two teams because they’re not frontrunning teams; they’ve only got a name that people would know because of the problem they’re in,” he said. “If you want to get recognised you’ve got to do something.
“This poor guy in South Africa [Oscar Pistorius], for instance, has got more interest because of what happened with him than when he was winning gold medals. He won medals and afterwards nobody thought about him.”
Interestingly, here’s this week’s offering #TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: I can Shoot People in South Africa
UPDATE: TJ13 has learned Caterham today have been packing up the freight in Cranleigh and preparing to take the cars and the race team to Abu Dhabi.
The crowfunding effort had funded about 60% of the monies required but the rest has been provided by an ‘investor’ who is apparently serious about a longer term relationship with the team, together with new sponsors.
Finbarr O’Connell, the Administrator states, “These are just for one race. This is normal commercial funding but because this sponsorship wouldn’t exist other than for the original crowdfunding initiative, it’s been agreed that the benefit of it will go in to the crowdfunding pot.”
The team were good to go and just waiting on gearboxes from Red Bull racing, which arrived at the last minute
Then a final hitch was discovered; permission was required from Bernie Ecclestone. Given Ecclestone’s dismissive attitude to the smaller teams and Caterham and Marussia in particular, this was a moment of deflation for the project team who have given Caterham F1 a glimmer of hope.
TJ13 was informed at 14:14 GMT, “The dwarf has given the green light”, so we can assume the team are on their way to the desert race in Abu Dhabi.
The name of the drivers is still a closely kept secret, though Ericsson has terminated his contract with the team. TJ13 has been informed that Jolyan Palmer will be partnering Kamui Kobayashi for the green team next weekend and that the reports of Alice Powell driving was never a starter.
TJ13 sources reported Palmer visited Leafield twice in the fortnight prior to the factory shut down, and that Joylon’s application for a super license had been sent out from Caterham F1’s administration department.
Further, there is an unconfirmed source informing us that Jonathan Palmer is close to closing agreement with the creditors which would see him buy the Leafield outfit.
TJ13 understands that a number of the components on both Caterham cars are over their ‘safe’ mileage lifespan and due to the Leafield factory shut down, the replacements have not been completed.
Therefore we may not see much of the green machines running in Abu Dhabi, and there are questions over whether they’ll complete more than a handful of racing laps. The team will however, be paid their appearance monies.