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Previously on The Judge 13:
#TJ13 #F1 Courtroom Podcast: Well that solved entirely nothing…
#F1 Features: Forza Rossa Meets the Caterham Circus
OTD Lite 1956 – Michele ALboreto born on this day
Michele Alboreto. The last Italian son who was signed by Enzo Ferrari to drive his scarlet machines in Grand Prix was born this day. He won twice for Tyrrell at the 1982 Las Vegas Grand Prix and the 1983 Detroit GP – which would be their last – before signing for the historic Italian stable.
Always acknowledged as one the smoothest drivers in F1, his speed was at times concealed by this factor and at other by the poor machinery he had at his disposal but to the young Jackals mind, possibly his greatest ever drive was around Moncao in 1985.
With Ayrton Senna claiming pole, Alboreto only started third but was in the lead when a huge collision between Piquet and Patrese spilled oil on to the track. The Ferrari slid wide allowing Prost into the lead. Michele caught and passed Prost within three laps but after touching the barrier and puncturing his tyre fell back to fourth.
In the remaining laps he got up to second and chased down the Frenchman for victory but sadly failed.
One of motor-sports true gentlemen he retired and raced in the World Sportscar Championship with Audi. It was in an Audi R8 that he crashed after a tyre blow out and was killed whilst merely straight line testing in 2001. A sad end to great career.
The Grumpy Jackal
F1 returns to South Africa or La la land
Bernie Ecclestone was last week visiting Sochi to receive the Russian Order of Friendship for promoting Russia on the international stage.
Ironically, Gerhard Gribkowsky is said to be “travelling in Russia” as a German newspaper revealed when explaining he was unavailable to comment on the new BayernLB law suit.
The mind boggles
Bernie decided to use the occasion to give Russian Sports Agency, R-Sport an exclusive. They are reporting Ecclestone stating, “We’re in the middle of trying to do something in South Africa. We used to have a race there and it would be nice to get back there again, to that part of the world.”
A return to South Africa was floated by Ecclestone back in 2011 and Cape Town was the proposed venue. Yet the combination of cost and noise led the city legislature to reject the idea.
Interestingly, the old Kyalami circuit near Johannesburg, which hosted 20 Formula One races between 1967 and 1993, was bought by Porsche in July this year. Yet the original circuit would be almost impossible to restore, due to property being built on a large proportion of the historic track.
The only African countries to host an F1 race are South Africa and Morocco and the last race held on the continent was in 1993.
This could all be a load of baloney as is all too often the case when the news cycle has not written “Formula One set for Country X,Y or Z” for around a month. This at least creates the impression there is a myriad of takers lining up for an F1 weekend in the minds of the masses.
The devil as always is in the detail of what Ecclestone says. He rather randomly revealed to R-Sport that, “The Americans want other races, but I’m not too sure that we do.”
It may be that following the lack of enthusiasm from New Yorkers to splash their cash and support an F1 race in – New Jersey – Bernie is ticked off with the good ole US of A. He did also fail to grab back the race in Long Beach, California, whose local authorities awarded a new, if temporary, contract to Indy Car for another year.
Marchionne angry at disaster of 2014
In the corporate world Sergio Marchionne is recognised as a business genius. His leadership of what was an almost bankrupt FIAT organisation in 2004 to one of the fastest growing automobile groups in the world has seen him rightfully declared a visionary.
Incorporating the Chrysler corporation into the Italian automotive giant has appeared seamless when compared to the problems that the Daimler Group had when they owned the American company. But possibly his biggest challenge will be turning around a dysfunctional legend that has definitely fallen behind the times in regards competitive order.
With a complete disdain of middle management and with a penchant for wearing woollen knitwear, the bespectacled President of Ferrari took a press conference to introduce the new team that aims to return the Italian National ‘Fratelli Italia’ to the podiums of the world.
Speaking at Ferrari’s Christmas media event he said: “I do not want to speak of 2014 because it was a year to forget and I don’t want to discuss it. Let’s talk about the future because this past year has been a disaster. I have tremendous respect for Marco Mattiacci who commercially did a great job for Ferrari during his career. Formula One is a completely different field. Maurizio has several years of experience in the sporting field and knows the environment and all the people involved in the management of the sport.”
“The problem was Mattiacci was still learning and considering the year we have just had – restarting the team and learning about the technical and human side would have been too much and we made a choice to look to the future and Maurizio will do a great job here.”
When discussing the sporting regulations of F1 – the first sign of an efficient business mind seeps out; ” The labyrinth of rules has been written very badly. If we want the best for the sport we have to simplify everything and make life easier for the people who works within it. If you actually read these regulations it appears to have been written by four drunks in a bar.”
“We made great advances in the last Strategy Group meeting with Maurizio managing to find a solution in regards the use of tokens in 2015 which thereby allows us some freedom of introductions of upgrades through the year.”
Of course with the news from yesterday stating that Marchionne had opposed his predecessor being offered the Presidency of the F1 Group he was unequivocal in his reasoning and offered similar views on some of the other potential conflicts of interest within the sport.
“There are no positions within the F1 Group other than CEO and President. The first is Ecclestone and in certain conditions Ferrari could oppose the proposal but we have not. As to Montezemolo – there was no proposal but if there had of been Ferrari would have opposed it as we would have problems with our competitors. It was impossible to understand why with all the people on the face of this planet they would have chosen one who has been with Ferrari for 23 years. That would not have been fair play.”
“It would be similar to if I was president of Volkswagen. It is the same reason I am opposed to Jean Todt of the FIA for equally the same reasons. There has been no unfortunate consequences because of his appointment but it wasn’t the right one either.”
Once the politics and business subjects had been broached, the President turned his attention to the actual team: “Vettel is not naive, he knows our level of competitiveness but this is part of Ferrari’s strength – we attract people just because of its reputation. Our task next year is to unlock the potential and we are betting that with Vettel we will unlock this potential.”
“I can guarantee that the team is putting in a phenomenal effort and we have guys that are splitting into four to give of their best and they have my full support. The most important thing for us now is to give courage and all the necessary resources to move ahead and to rebuild the Scuderia.”
With thanks to TJ13 reader kikl
Caterham makes small profit despite £16m debt
Who said you couldn’t make money from F1 unless your name was Bernie? Whilst Caterham waits on the decision of the creditors committee for the approval to sell the team to new investors documents reveal that the team made a £75,000 profit following the crowd funding plan to allow the team to run in Abu Dhabi.
The plan raised a total of £2.4m which allowed fans to buy team equipment and get their names on the cars – yet the documents reveal that what fans got back in terms of memorabilia and old kit amounted to just £160,316.
With Kamui Kobayashi and Will Stevens providing sponsorship of £515,298 it would appear the team received an abundance to allow them to race.
Except as any fans know, Formula One is not for the faint-hearted. Caterhams fuel bill was £80,000 and travel and accommodation came to £31,142 – which pales when compared to the catering costs of £2,577.
The trusty team members were paid just £2,000 each which sounds generous until compared to fellow fledgling Marussia that paid their staff £2,800 on average per race weekend.
Finbarr O’Connell of administrators Smith & Williamson stated “it is too early to comment with any certainty about how much money the team will be able to repay” but the same documents show that Caterham owes a totoal of £16.4m which included a further £177,600 to former employees.
The good news would seem to be that the decision to race in the MIddle East may pay dividends as it showcased the team to a number of buyers : “Some of the potential interest in the team has occurred only because the team raced at Abu Dhabi. Having concluded a successful race event, te administrators have continued to have encouraging discussions with several potential buyers.”
VW and F1 rumours persist
Ex. BMW, Honda, Brawn and Williams’ technical chief, Jorg Zander, is joining the VW Group as head of technology for Audi Sport. Following the recruitment of ex-Ferrari team boss, Stefano Domenicali, this will fuel further the rumours that the VW Group are assessing a foray into Formula One.
Domenicali is allegedly managing a feasibility study into a VW V6 Turbo design.
Last week, Ecclestone was reported by Forbes as stating. “They (VW) have been out there for long enough and haven’t made a big enough effort to come in”
VW senior personnel to have downplayed the likelihood of a foray into F1. ESPN reported that a VW spokesperson had stated in December last year, “Currently there are no plans or intentions for the Volkswagen brand or any other brand of the Volkswagen Group to join Formula One.”
Monza race doubts surface again
Just prior to the launch of TJ13 in September 2012, reports began to emerge from Italy that the race organisation promoting the Italian Grand Prix was in trouble. Speaking to La Gazzetta, Ecclesonte commented. “Now the future of the Monza Formula 1 becomes much, much more complicated.”
Enrico Ferrari had been running the Italian GP race organisation for many years and was a close friend and ally of Mr. E. He was sacked along with 6 others following an alleged scandal over fraudulent tickets sales. Those implicated included Director of the circuit along with the technical director Giorgio Beghella Bartoli, the accounting officer and the president of Franco Becchere Acp & Partners – Marco Villa Luca, who manages the sponsorship of the racetrack.
Ecclestone commented on these matters at the time, “I do not understand what is really happening. I very much appreciate Enrico Ferrari, who for over twenty years I have dealt with over the contract for the Italian Grand Prix. It is thanks to him that Monza had a favourable financial arrangement when compared to all other European races. No F1 event costs as little on the continent as the Italian Grand Prix. Enrico is tough in business, but direct, competent and clean.“
The writing was on the wall and Bernie issued a warning to the new director, Fabrizio Turci. “I do not know him and do not envy him, because without Enrico Ferrari things will be more complicated. He was a key man.”
Since that time the issue of Monza has surfaced a number of times. Prior to his departure from Maranello, de Montezemolo was said to be favouring promoting an Italian GP in Mugello – a circuit owned by Ferrari.
In July this year, Ecclestone again commented on fast approaching conclusion of the Monza contract in 2016. “It’s not good. I don’t think we’ll do another contract, as the old one has been disastrous for us from a commercial point of view”.
As if to emphasise his point Bernie concluded, “So it’s bye-bye after 2016.”
Not only is Bernie apparently sticking the boot into Monza, but the Italian government is joining the fray. The new legislation – ‘legge di stabilita’, or stability law – will see the race promoters lose around Euro20 million in tax exemptions.
Italian member of parliament, Fabrizio Sala, says: “The stability law penalises Monza and its Autodrome, placing at risk the future of the Formula One GP”.
Yet former Italian F1 driver, Ivan Capelli, who in 2014 was appointed as a director to the board of the automobile club of Milan, says they will fight to keep the Italian Grand Prix and for it to be run at the historic Monza venue. “Our commitment to find the required resources is clear.”