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Previously on The Judge 13:
OTD Lite: 2003 – Passing of legendary F1 journalist – Jabby
On this day nine years ago, one of the most respected F1 journalists in history passed away after a long battle with cancer. Gerard ‘Jabby’ Crombac was held in the same high esteem as other notable journalistic legends, including Denis Jenkinson, following a lifetime of reporting on the Formula One world.
He was a close friend of both Colin Chapman and Jim Clark – who he shared a flat with in Paris – something that would be similar to Lewis Hamilton sharing accommodation with Ted Kravitz; although come to think of it, neither Lewis or Ted deserve to be compared to the two aforementioned legends.
The Swiss born journalist founded Sport-Auto magazine in 1962 and remained its chief editor until 1989. Famous for wearing a tweed flat cap and with a pipe hanging from his mouth – this man became a legend amongst his peers.
The Grumpy Jackal
Mercedes backed Paffett to leave Honda backed Macca’s
Long-time McLaren test driver Gary Paffett will leave McLaren at the end of 2014 due to his long term association to Mercedes. He started working with the Woking team in 2006 completing thousands of kilometeres of testing and subsequently hundreds of hours on the team’s simulator.
“I’ve loved working for McLaren and hope my feedback and input over the years has been beneficial,” Paffett said. “The engineers I’ve worked with have been kind enough to say that it has. I have many friends at McLaren, and I wish all of them the very best of luck for the future. Fingers crossed for a McLaren grand prix win or two next year!”
McLaren CEO Jonathan Neale paid tribute to Paffett, “Gary has been an excellent member of the McLaren team for the best part of a decade, and his technical input, on test track and in simulator alike, has been hugely important to us. Just as important, he’s a great guy. We wish him well.”
(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)
Ecclestone to clamp down on online media in paddock
Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to clamp down on the proliferation of internet journalists in F1. After controversially rubbishing the power of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter last week, the F1 supremo is now warning that online publications will find access to the paddock more difficult in the future.
He told F1 business journalist Christian Sylt: “Choose your race for free, enter the paddock, meet the drivers. How do you do it? Set up a website. I’m going to have a good look at the accreditation because it is a bit of a joke,” 84-year-old Ecclestone added.
Meanwhile, amid Marussia and Caterham’s troubles and with other small teams demanding talks with Ecclestone, the diminutive Briton sounds determined to plough ahead with plans to introduce third cars per team.
“We are talking about all the different options with third cars,” he told City A.M. “The contracts just say they have to run a third car if it drops below the limit. We are talking about what the right way is to go.”
TJ13 comment: With the clearest indication yet of F1 still being run as a dictatorship we now have Mr E apparently taking heed of Coffee Shop Joe and clamping down on the new wave of information.
This however, will change little. CSJ’s complaints are about ‘bottom feeders’, who he claims cut and paste news, never enter the paddock anyway.
Further, there is a new confidence abroad amongst employees who work within Formula One and are happy to share their knowledge and experience to trusted publications – who they know will publish the truth. The fact the teams now employ many hundreds of people, makes it impossible for them to identify from where the information is emanating.
What is also evident, is that the greatest value the ‘experienced’ F1 writers who frequent the paddock bring, is their comment and opinion given the information they have. This is not happening.
Earlier this year, CSJ reported he had known for many weeks of the FIA’s fuel flow measurement irregularities, but it was a matter that should be kept from the public.
More recently, James Allen – respected highly by this site – refused to offer comment on the latest meanderings from Mr. E, setting his readers cryptic clues and responding to TJ13’s Editor in Chief by stating, “If you can’t see what Bernie is doing, I’m not about to tell you”.
With Bernie’s dismissal of social media, Jean Todt famously not using even email and with the likes of Toto Wolff offering that the teams were looking at how to monetize the medium, F1’s archaic principles rear their head once again but as with all dictatorships they eventually crumble..
Fans have suffered from the loss of FanVision, fans are refusing to watch live Formula One races if it means taking out pay-per-TV subscriptions for hundreds of currency units, attendances are falling at circuits due to high ticket prices and fans are now bemused by the loss of the entertaining radio messages which used to be broadcast.
NASCAR meantime is booming. Viewing figures are high, sponsors are flocking to shell out hundreds of millions, circuit promoters make money, fans pay 10’s of dollars – not hundreds to attend an event – and TV access is plentiful and relatively inexpensive.
F1 Fans are being let down by their sports media, the sport’s regulator and ripped off by the commercial rights holder however an incremental buck can be extracted from them.
F1 fans will only suffer so much – and then they’ll vote with their feet.
(sourced from GMM with TJ13 comment)
Horner says Renault 75hp down on Mercedes
Christian Horner has put an alarming horse power figure on Renault’s deficit to dominant Mercedes in 2014. “Our engine has 75 horse power less than the Mercedes,” he declared to the Italian publication Autosprint. A big argument is taking place at present between struggling Renault – Red Bull’s works supplier – and F1’s other engine marques Ferrari and Mercedes.
Renault and Ferrari are pushing hard for the so-called engine development ‘freeze’ to be relaxed, but Mercedes is understandably resisting.
“If you look at the speed in the corners,” Red Bull chief Horner said, “we are always the best. Unfortunately we don’t have the power that we need. When you are 75 horse power down, it doesn’t really matter what else you have. What can you do? Nothing.”
He thinks it is unfair that when Red Bull was utterly dominant in the past, F1 did not hesitate to clamp down on the team’s aerodynamic advantages. “I do hope that Renault is able to close the gap for the future, but it’s not easy,” said Horner. “Because if you freeze a new technology so early, it is very difficult to fix all of the problems that you have.”
“In the past, always with the aim of slowing down Red Bull, there were no doubts whatsoever about altering the technical regulations when we had all the double diffusers, blown diffusers, flexible parts, engine maps,” he added.
TJ13 comment: Spiceboy, Christian ‘for the good of the sport’ Horner appears to be speaking from a place of pain. Draughtsman Adrian Newey has not muttered a word about the unfairness of F1, it cyclical yet Horner has run out of toys to throw out of the metaphorical pram.
It is not the FIA’s fault that Renault designed a poor engine which appeared in Jerez last winter with clear instructions not to exceed 250kms. It’s not the governing body’s fault that Renault’s arrogance in regards the homologation freeze being lifted last year led to a year of pain.
Of course, when the MIlton Keynes squad was rewriting the “not in the spirit” context of the regulations in their favour, the FIA were forced to remove all dubious designs. But it’s interesting that the newly bearded one chooses to include a design feature that had to be adopted from the Brawn car in 2009. The big boys wanted it banned, and after the third race in China, the FIA accepted it’s design and forced the others into a development race.
Still when you are used to defending your actions it’s probably a natural reaction to take blame for everything.
Last of the season’s FIA Press Conferences
The attendees for these are reportedly selected by the FIA (Jean Todt), yet at times there’s a feel that Bernie has influence in some way. Not this weekend.
Team Principals FridayRobert Fernley Christian Horner Monisha Kaltenborn Gerard Lopez Marco Mattiacci Claire Williams Toto Wolff
Drivers ThursdayFernando Alonso Jenson Button Lewis Hamilton Nico Hulkenberg Nico Rosberg Sebastian Vettel
Friday looks set for a last ditch public appeal to be made by the smaller teams before we see F1 weekends and the prime race include mixed category cars in the very near future.
Thursday we have the 2 Mercedes drivers – who will be media prep’d like never before. But there is a certain Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso on the panel. Vettel has revealed this week that Alonso is leaving Ferrari – as far as he is aware. May get interesting.top Will Stevens to drive for Caterham
Having announced Kamui Kobayashi as one of the drivers for the Abu Dhabi weekend, Caterham are still thin lipped about who their other driver is.
TJ13 reveal that Will Stevens is certain to get a drive, though at present this is expected to be limited to Friday practice – and Max Chilton is expected to run there car from thereon.
Due to the factory closure following the Russian GP, the cars are both short of spare parts and have components which have run their ‘safe’ mileage.
Smaller team’s leaked letter
It has been reported widely since late last night that the smaller teams have leaked a letter sent by them for Bernie Ecclestone’s attention. They are requesting a meeting this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
“Since Austin, Lotus, Sauber and Force India F1 have been in communication with Donald [Mackenzie of CVC] and your good self in order to highlight the critical situation independent constructors in Formula 1 are facing today. From our meetings we noted positively that our concerns were acknowledged and there was a basis for a constructive dialogue. However, after our meeting in Brazil we clearly see the direction of Formula 1 towards customer cars / super GP2. It is equally clear that the Strategy Group has no intention at all to reduce costs.”
The constant mantra from Ecclestone that the smaller teams just run their businesses badly and spend too much is addressed once again.
“70% – 80% of the FOM income has to be allocated to the engine. For us, as engine customers, the engine technology, i.e V6 or V8 turbo-charged or hybrid, is of much less significance, as opposed to engine manufacturers, who are using Formula One as a marketing tool to showcase high-end technology. Unlike manufacturer-owned teams, our core business is Formula One.
“Yet, we have no choice but to spend most of our income on the engine, and the remaining 30% is by far not enough to construct, enter and run a team over a twenty race season.”
Interestingly, this is the first comment on how the failed Concorde negotiations of two years ago, led to a new set of bi-lateral agreements between FOM and the FIA, FOM and the teams, the teams and the FIA.
“The shareholder’s (sic) focus during the negotiations was on securing the co-operation with big teams in view of the planned IPO; we were effectively given no room for negotiation. Furthermore, the impact of providing various share options to key people and entities may well have clouded their judgement in respect of creating what is effectively a questionable Cartel comprising, the Commercial Rights Holder, Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams, controlling both the governance of Formula One and apparently, the distribution of FOM funds.
“Whilst the FIA are involved in The Strategy Group, they are impotent to act.”
The rhetoric is strong and the use of the word ‘Cartel’ is provocative, mitigated slightly by the prefix – questionable. This is clearly designed to threaten the powers that be in F1 with an appeal to the EU Competition Commission. Clearly this kind of threat is an indication that the smaller teams now have nothing to lose – and will go down all guns blazing.
The EU commission said earlier this year, they were ‘watching F1’, though clearly no intervention has been made. The smaller teams can file a complaint and the Commission will then investigate. This final appeal to Ecclestone appears to the basis for such a complaint – if ignored.
Were the commission to investigate and rule there was a ‘Cartel’ and anti-competitive practices, they can levy large fines – but also insist the practices be altered and give direction as to how this should be done.
This weekend is the final event of the F1 2014 calendar, and if teams other than Caterham and Marussia are in trouble for 2015, even were the EU to act – there is unlikely the time available for them to be saved by new rulings from the Commission.
For the fans of the smaller teams, let’s hope they are capable of getting to the grid in Melbourne and that the EU commission get involved.
There’s hope for Lewis yet
Looks as though Nicole’s not yet made it back to Number One.
Sutil in possible breach of Sauber contract
The pressure is mounting, as the usual cool calm and collected Monisha Kaltenborn erupted. “Contracts are worth nothing in Formula One” she retorted to a Formule1.nl representative.
Then when asked whether this applied to Sauber drivers, Kaltenborn denied this was the case.
Despite this assertion, it is clear that Adrian Sutil believes he has a contract for 2014 whilst Kaltenborn was behind the scenes signing up Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.
It appears then at face value that there is a breach of contract with Sutil, for which redress must be made.
Of course Kaltenborn studied International Business Law at the LSE and is fairly likely to have solid grounds for her and Sauber’s actions.
It appears information is emanating from Sauber suggesting Adrian Sutil in fact breached his contract by not delivering certain sponsorship partners.
It would be incredible to think that Sauber would sign a contract with a new driver, without the simultaneous contractual agreements being in place with their promised sponsors.
Discounting this possibility, Sauber are probably referring to clauses in most driver contracts which seek to engage their drivers’ services in attracting new sponsors for the team. These clauses are most definitely more tenuous in their enforcement and proving an absolute breach would be difficult.
So, if Sauber are suggesting Sutil didn’t find any incremental sponsors over and above those he delivered up front, Sauber will almost certainly be culpable for the breach of Sutil’s contract for 2015.
Clearly, business is business and Kaltenborn knows, the enormous amount of incremental cash which either Ericsson or Nasr bring to Sauber over and above that from Sutil, will more than cover an out of court settlement with Sutil. Or indeed should the case be lost by Sauber in court, again the up side must still be better than the down – when doing the math
The Lauda analogy of F1 being a “pit of vipers’ appears to extend even to the much loved and ‘nice’ smaller teams on the grid.