#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 15th January 2015


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Previously on TheJudge13:

#F1 Features: Honda: The Power of Dreams

OTD Lite 2003 – Mosley screws over F1 fans completely

Mclaren and Honda try to overturn FIA ruling

Marchionne confident Ferrari will be more competitive

Silverstone – Build it and they will come

Gary Paffett – “I could’a been a contender Ron”

Caption Competition

Bahrain says NO

Malaysia won’t be bullied into a night race

Nurburgring is F1 history

OTD Lite 2003 – Mosley screws over F1 fans completely

Twelve years ago – on this day – Max Mosely played his usual hand of committing the FIA to banning a number of different aspects of F1 and then to rescind his former directives and allow the teams some leeway.

The usual response from the headless chickens that supposedly run these F1 teams was to throw their hands up in horror before allowing one or to specific changes which Mad Max wanted all along whilst they kept their valuable toys.

Mosley had originally decided that the best drivers in the world could do without traction control, launch control and there would be no telemetry or radio transmissions between the cars and pits. Sadly he capitulated and allowed them back into the sport.


Schumacher adored the toys as it allowed him to get his car closer to perfection. Senna abhorred them as it levelled the playing field. So class – for today’s homework… discuss.

The Grumpy Jackal.


Mclaren and Honda try to overturn FIA ruling

Following on from the OTD Lite and the modus operandi of the FIA – it appears that this year’s edition of governance may be in the process of back-tracking on a earlier judgement after having previously excluded Honda from the new engine development ‘unfreeze’.

Ferrari pulled some political muscle to allow the engine manufacturers the opportunity to develop their engines in-season using the 32 token system.

Mclaren and their partner Honda were left less than impressed when they were instructed for them the 28th February homologation date would be enforced – as it was for the new engines in 2014.

Mclaren of course made contact with the FIA and Honda met with F1 race director, Charlie Whiting, last Monday. The FIA’s spokesman said, “The meeting went well and we are discussing matters that arose.”

A Japanese spokesman said that Honda would not comment “until we can get a further update from FIA should they reveal something”.

FIA sources made it clear that the intention of the regulation was that Honda should never have had any freedom to upgrade their engine after the homologation date. Then again, it was the intention of the FIA that the other manufacturers also homologate their new PU’s on February 28th.

There appears to be a perception issue in the media which also mitigates against Honda. This is that Honda have been busily beavering away developing their engine, whilst Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari have had their development frozen.

This is simply not the case. All three manufacturers have been developing their 32 tokens for more than six months, and their planned 2015 engines are in a better state of readiness than were the 2014 PU’s.

The FIA are in a mess on this one – they have regulations which directly now contradict each other.

Honda will be citing the regulation which states only one homologated engine can be used each season in Formula One.

The other side of the 3 faced coin is that as soon as one of the tokens of change is applied to a 2014 engine, strictly speaking it becomes un-homologated. Teams must race only with homologated engines, and one per season.

Further, if Honda are bound by 2014 regulations – are they not allowed a fifth engine, as were the other 2014 entrants?

The clever loophole discovered by Ferrari doesn’t look so clever any more – because the intention of the regulation to homologate all 2015 engines by 28th February is clear, and by ignoring this intention to appease Ferrari, a veritable can of worms is opened – no Jean – worms….. not garlic buttered snails.

Clearly, the mad dogs are still howling in the Place de Concorde.


Marchionne confident Ferrari will be more competitive

Irrespective of how the FIA decide in the meetings with Honda representatives, Sergio Marchionne believes that despite the late start to 2015, Ferrari will catch up due to the governing body accepting Ferrari’s stance that the technical regulations do not stipulate a date when changes had to be homologated.

Having overseen a dramatic culling of staff in recent months, Ferrari has emerged as a more efficient unit with Marchionne optimistic that the car will improve throughout the season.

“By the last five or six races, things will be interesting. We won’t have any more excuses because we would have completed the majority of the necessary work to compete on the track.”

The FCA boss felt he had to act after a disastrous 2014 campaign which risked damaging the road car division, “It was time for a change. I think Luca [di Montezemolo] has done a great job of leading the business for 23 years, but we hadn’t won an F1 championship since 2008.”

“We had a disaster of a season in 2014 and I think organisations tend to get lazy – so it was time to bring about change. On the road car side – the business – is doing tremendously well, but central to Ferrari’s success is what it does on the track. If it doesn’t get that right, if it doesn’t fight properly, then I think it will impact on the brand. So we had to intervene.”

Only time will tell if the vision of this great business leader will truly move Ferrari into a new era of success. But judging by his past success – you would be a fool to bet against the bespectacled man who gets to grips quickly with the rules of every ‘game’ he has played.

And for Marchionne, the rules of the Formula One game are relatively simple compared to his other challenges. Spend more money than the rest + buy in the best people = win world championships.



Silverstone – Build it and they will come

View_of_Woolworth_Building_fixed_cropFrank Winfield Woolworth founded the Woolworth Company and ran discount stores known as “Five and Dimes’. In the late 19th century he pioneered the practice of buying directly from manufacturers and fixing prices on items to prevent haggling.

His first store in 1878 failed within weeks. But his second – which he opened the following year – brought success. By 1913 he had built the Woolworth building in New York. At the time the tallest building the world.

At the time of his death in 1919 – the company owned more than 1,000 stores across America.

Patrick Allen – Silverstone’s recently appointed managing director – has come from a background in marketing and he is aiming to lower the admission costs to Britain’s Formula One race.

“What I would like to do is see ticket prices falling for the British Grand Prix. In my mind I have the benchmark of a £99 admission ticket. I think that’s what customers deserve.”

“I would much rather see better ticket offers and once people are here, do more for them. If you want to get more people here every year, you don’t do that by putting the ticket prices up. We are desperately trying to bring the ticket price down.”

The plan is simple. Increase attendance, which reduces the average cost per head of spectator to host the race – and more people means stuff is sold around the circuit..

Not rocket science – and a lesson maybe other race promoters could learn from.

Sadly this will not be possible until 2016 at the earliest, as a GA ticket price is set for the 2015 British Grand Prix, the most expensive in the world at £155.

TJ13: Comment

Silverstone can accommodate far more people than its current self imposed limit of 125,000 to watch the race – and now the external infrastructure has been improved – the venue which hosted the very first ever Formula One GP, may see the kind of crowds return to watch a Grand Prix that were present during the heyday of the sport.


Gary Paffett – “I could’a been a contender Ron”

Gary-Paffett-kann-mit-Startplatz-zwei-beim-spannenden-Finale-gut-leben-474x316-29a93a99929e59c4Gary Paffett is a British racing driver who has competed for Mercedes in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters championship since 2003. He won the title in 2005 and finished runner up on four separate occasions.
He won the Prestigious Mclaren Autosport Award in 1999 and would go on to win the British Scholarship F3 title in 2000 before moving to Germany and subsequently dominated the 2002 season without ever losing the lead!

His connection with Mclaren and Mercedes led to him being signed as test driver for the Woking team in 2006 and at season’s end had been in line for the seat that would eventually introduce Lewis Hamilton to F1.
In a recent interview with http://www.f1web.it/ Paffett spoke about his time with the Woking manufacturer and his aspirations for the future.

So what were the main changes during your time at Mclaren?

With regards to the cars we had a massive change in downforce level for 2009 which took a lot of getting used to, and 2 of the other very interesting developments were the F Duct developed by McLaren and the KERS system. But without doubt the one thing that was the biggest game changer was the blown diffuser. This changed the way you drove the car a lot and there was so much time to be found with getting it right.

There was talk about you being signed as a race driver for 2007.

I was close. At the end of 2006 I’d had a good full years testing and a seat became available alongside the newly appointed Alonso. Unfortunately for me Lewis who had been with McLaren since he was 8 had just won the GP2 series and was a shoe in for the seat so long as he tested well in the car. He got up to speed very quickly and got the drive that we expected him to get. I was just in the best place possible – at the worst time.

Have you considered being a test driver at another team?

We will have to see. My chances of racing in F1 are very slim but I love the development side of Formula 1 and may look to get a role with another team helping them develop the car. I haven’t even started really looking yet but I wouldn’t rule it out some time in the future.

Finally what do you think about the Mclaren-Honda collaboration in 2015?

The last time McLaren and Honda teamed up it went pretty well. But its difficult to know. Honda have some catching up to do to match Mercedes which isn’t going to be easy, and McLaren will also have to improve the chassis as last year’s competitiveness wasn’t what you would expect from them.


Caption Competition

for an alternative view on F1, follow TJ13’s Usher


Bahrain says NO

In December 2014, Mr. E revealed he had done a deal with the Bahraini Royal family when they first agreed to host a Formula One race. This deal gave them veto over other F1 events being awarded to fellow Gulf States.

An accommodation was agreed to facilitate Abu Dhabi’s presence on the calendar. This included a season opening race for Bahrain, together with the promise that the second ‘Gulf’ F1 event would be at the opposite end of the calendar.

As it transpires, the venue in Abu Dhabi is now far superior to that in Bahrain – in terms of facilities, entertainment booked for the crowds and of course as the final round of the championship – in 2014 it saw the drivers’ title for the year decided.

Qatar have applied legitimately – as far as is known – to join the family of Formula One nations, yet all is not fair in love and competition amongst the Arab brotherhood.

Bahrain has vetoed a race being awarded to Qatar.

Ecclestone revealed, “I put the people together and said ‘Can you sort this out between you?’. They haven’t managed to do it”

One of the many faces of the ruling Bahraini Al Khalifa family unsurprisingly observes: “My personal opinion of having another race – wherever it is – I don’t think we are ready for that.”

One thing is for certain, Mr. E’s nightmares over the missing $50m Qatar could offer the FOM coffers, will not be appeased by the knowledge his famous “handshake agreement” with the crown prince of Bahrain is both worthy and honourable.


Malaysia won’t be bullied into a night race

Following the events at Suzuka, the FIA have now regulated that Formula One races cannot begin too close to sunset. This despite Whiting claiming the race start time had no effect on proceedings.

Races affected particularly are Australia, Malaysia and Japan – all of whom have had local start times as late as 4pm so Ecclestone can ensure the majority of the F1 TV audience – which is in Europe – can watch the race at not too uncivilised a time of day.

The Sepang circuit boss, Razlan Razal welcomes the development that will see the race moved back to 15:00. “For us it’s good. It’s a safer time bracket…so now people can come in for lunch, watch the race and about five o’clock they can go back (home)”.

The race contract is up for renewal with Sepang, and Ecclestone has been pressurising the race organisers to host a night race like Singapore. Speaking to Reuters, Razal outlines his opposition to this proposal: “It’s a danger to force us to do it. In the past he (Ecclestone) was pushing but now I think it’s the first time where he actually listened to us as a promoter what we want.”

“At the moment (we don’t want it). Every circuit has its own identity, the danger is to copy someone else.”

Ecclestone wheeled out Razil during the 2014 Malaysian GP in front of the UK SKY camera’s in support of his opposition to the new V6 Turbo engines, yet the Malaysian now admits he has been ‘won over’ by the new power units.

“What I noticed in the grandstands is that you get families with kids watching and enjoying Formula One better”.

“I can remember in the past where a dad would put headphones on the kid and hold it. Or a kid would be too scared and start crying, wanting to go home. I think it attracts a new breed of fan base now. And that’s what you want.”

Further, Razil is clear that Formula One – and the FOM Group – needs to do better to ensure it gets ‘bums on seats’ citing the fact that MotoGP has done much better at Sepang than F1 over the past five years and attracted bigger crowds by delivering better value for the spectators.

Another voice that was once in subjugation – is now publically critical of the emperor dictator and his F1 policies – and so the power base is now a touch further eroded.

Nurburgring is F1 history

Surprise surprise, the German GP is again in turmoil. De ja vu as TJ13 Daily News reported 5th March 2014

Today Mr. E reveals that the Nurburgring has forfeited its right to host this year’s F1 German GP. Following the sale of the circuit, the new owners have been unable to agree a deal with Ecclestone – who had a bid rejected to buy the venue.

An agreement has seen the German GP alternate between the two venues, but Hockenheim will host the race for a second consecutive year, despite the German GP being confirmed on the calendar as at Nurburgring.

“It’s going to be at Hockenheim”, Ecclestone confirmed today. “We’re in the middle of doing something with them. It can’t be Nurburgring because there’s nobody there,” the F1 supremo told Reuters.

“We’ve got a contract in place (with Hockenheim), we just have to amend the years of the contract. It was alternating with Nurburgring so we’ll just take that out.”

Hell hath no fury… as they say.

Further, this is a huge U-Turn from Hockenheim, because 2 years ago, Ecclestone proposed they host the 2013 German GP at the time scheduled for Nurburgring. Hockenheim refused – on financial grounds.

Oh well, Bernie won’t have these troubles in future with the uber compliant Azerbaijanis – European GP returns to the 2016 calendar.


27 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Thursday 15th January 2015

  1. Homework 🙂 I can’t resist…I’m obviously missing the challenge of the Bar Exam…

    I think car racing should be about machinery and not computers…though in this day and age it is a lot harder to separate the two and no one will probably ever attempt to do it again…I am biased though as my favourite era is pre-1970 when aerodynamics didn’t even exist…let alone computers 🙂

    Perfect cars vs supremely talented drivers…if the car is perfect then probably the top 10% are capable of driving it well…if the car isn’t then only the top 1% is….as we saw in 2014 with Alonso and Kimi…much as I hate to admit it…

    Lastly…that 2003 season was amazing…three drivers from three different teams only a few points apart…what dreams are made of…especially as one of them was Kimi…and JPM was always entertaining…

    • When I saw OTD Lite 2003, Mosley, I immediately thought of the tyre change before the end of the season.. Patrick Head was not impressed!

  2. Imagine if Hamilton had been dropped in 2004, his only ‘mini-yips’ period before winning the Bahrain Superprix. Maybe Paffett would have gotten that 2007 drive… that said, McLaren always had too many test drivers back then, hence, in 2006, de la Rosa got half a season, and in 2005 Wurz and PdlR a race each! Same with Williams, Gene and Pizzonia in 2004.. so easily could have been Lotterer, under different circumstances..

  3. Re: Caption Competition

    “See what I did there?”

    BTW, are there winners announced for the competition. When The Economist started these games, they always declared a number of best entries. Of course, it was no fun always losing, but it was fun to see the competition being played out.

  4. Do race start time really matter anymore with the widespread use of recording TV programs available to everyone? Is Bernie’s insistence on start times for the European audience another relic from his lack of understanding of how the digital age works?

    • ..if you are going to use the F1 timing APP at $80 – whilst watching the race – yes.

      Some people also see it as a communal social media experience they can share with otehrs live.

      But I take your point – these are not the majority of F1 viewers

      • Personally, I reckon those in Europe get an extremely raw deal on broadcast times.

        Over here at GMT +8 we get to enjoy a full Saturday / Sunday, have dinner, and then sit back for an evening of quali / race with cleansing suds in hand.

        The races in the America’s suck a bag full of severed whatnames (2am or so starts), but the rest of the season is as sweet as, bru 🙂

        • Try watching races here in the States; it really sucks. On the west coast where I live it’s 5 am start times; just a wee bit too early for a beer. Maybe.

    • I don’t care when the races start I’ll get up anytime with a strong coffee to watch F1, I don’t want safety compromised for my viewing benefit.

  5. So how come Ferrari are getting such an easy ride from the press about the engine regulation loop hole they are pursuing “for the good of the sport”. If it was Horner/RBR/Renault then the knives would be out and the Haterade® would be flowing in torrents with the knickers of all and sundry twisted beyond recovery. “Cheats”, “entitled”, “rich bastards”, &c, &c,…

    It’s some kind of honeymoon period, I expect. Once 2015 is a disaster for the red crew and the contradictory excuses start, presumably the familiar contempt for any / all team management will reassert itself.

    Same goes for Honda, who have tremendous goodwill on their side at the moment. They’d better come up with the goods if they scuttle pretty much the only chance for others to peg back MB just a bit.

    • There is one difference that could explain it and that is that the engine loophole is for every engine manufacturer (except Honda but I wouldn’t be surprised if the FIA feels itself forced to let Honda also develop during the season, and looking at the few people who do object they only object because of the unfairness against Honda). Another reason is that the majority of the vocal hardcore fans are against (parts of) the 2014 engine concept and most think that any change can only be better than what there is now.
      Also with the things Red Bull have changed in the past, like the tyres, it was mainly Red Bull who were helped and there were teams that were not helped at all, including Ferrari and as we know the only group of F1 fans who come close to the loud shouting of the Tifosi are the Hamfosi ;-P

  6. Honda. How about this? Honda must homologate its engine Feb 28; and then has 32 tokens to play with the rest of the year, like the others. Naaaaaaah; makes too much sense and fair play. Can’t have THAT!

    Comment: Isn’t she awfully young to have blue hair?

  7. I’m not at all sure that the German GP story is closed yet. In my opinion, it’s just as likely that BE is just using this announcement as a negotiating ploy to get Nurburgring to agree to the hosting fees that he wants – especially after the news yesterday that they wanted it cheaper.

    Key thing for me is the U-turn question on Hockenheim…

    But I guess we’ll see…

  8. Thanks for the back round stuff between Razali and Bernie. No one else is writing about it and i just want to thank you for pointing out behind the scenes maneuverings like this story and the story about the Bahraini Royal Family. I shudder to think just HOW MUCH money they are paying Mr. E. for him to grant them veto power.

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