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Previously on TheJudge13:
OTD Lite: 2007 – Honda unveil sponsorship provided by Planet Earth
Of course the title is ridiculous as was the whole concept of the Honda team running what was essentially a map of the earth on their abysmal creation. Honda’s PR machine spoke of promoting environmental issues and seeking companies who would donate to their chosen charity. The cynical recognised that a poorly performing Honda team held no interest for potential sponsors and had been stuck with the cost themselves.
Fast forward eight years and we have another Honda connected enterprise that seemingly cannot pull in the big name title sponsor which Ron Dennis once held so dearly.
The Jackal remains in two minds as to how this latest adventure in F1 will pan out. Will the Honda that every body fears be the same company that has struggled to provide state-of-the-art machinery over the last quarter of a century. Or will it be the dominant force that propelled the Japanese manufacturer to mulitple titles during the late 80’s and early 90’s.
Of course, with the driving talent of Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna back then, it would be a brave man – or a rose-tints wearing Mclaren fan – who believes that history will repeat itself..
Nürburgring close to a deal
History is repeating itself. Nürburgring has announced they are prepared to host the German GP this year, but are handing all the risk over to Bernie E and FOM.
Track official Carsten Schumacher said the circuit is prepared to host the race, but with conditions attached.
“There is no question that, as a Formula One organiser, you deserve to make money, but the problem is the entry fee [FOM hosting fee} and we need to talk about that.
Ecclestone’s expansion of Formula One over the past ten years has relied on regional or state support to fund the hosting fee, as the race promoters have no chance of breaking even without it.
Nürburgring’s owners are not even asking to break even as Schumacher states, “We have said that, for the sake of the fans and the region, we are prepared even to make an economically acceptable loss. This is also the reason why we have said that we do not want to carry the organiser’s risk, “ which will see Ecclestone and FOM step in as the promoter and collect the ticket revenues.
Schumacher highlights the issues facing all traditional Formula One events where little or no government support is forthcoming. “I think it makes little sense to organise events in which you only spend money rather than making any. In the long run, no one can afford that, and that includes any other race track in Germany.”
Clearly there are ‘new world’ F1 promoters prepared to lose huge amounts of money to stage a Formula One weekend to develop their international status. They have vast public funding support to achieve this, but the old European venues do not gain the same incremental economic value from hosting Formula One.
This problem will not go away for Ecclestone, and so he must pursue the goal of 22-25 races if he is to grow the pie for CVC, without losing European circuit after circuit from the calendar.
Webber – Ferrari the right place for Vettel
Any long term readers of TJ13 will know that Mrs Judge has a particular soft spot for former F1 driver Mark Webber. In his time with Red Bull he was team-mate to Sebastian Vettel for five years and would suffer title defeat for four straight years before calling time on his single seater career and moving to the World Endurance Championship with Porsche.
Both the German and the Aussie would admit that they didn’t have the easiest of relationships with Vettel seemingly having the full support of the team – whereas Weber was marginalised and seemingly under constant attack from Red Bull’s Helmut Marko.
As straight talking as ever – it appears that Webber is in agreement with TJ13’s very own Fat Hippo when he was interviewed recently by the Herald Sun.
“Seb’s not a silly guy and he realised that he needed fresh motivation and a new change and I think the decision was made very early, probably before the season even started to be honest”
“The line is not ‘they won’t miss Vettel’, the line is that when he wants to do something else and be in a different environment, then he is better off going somewhere he might feel he will get more out of himself. That’s definitely a question for the team halfway through the season, whether they are missing some of that experience.”
“They are lacking a little bit of continuity at Red Bull now — there are a few people who have left the team. So that will be interesting to see how technically good the car is over the course of a full season, not just at the start.”
Of course, the cynic would say after a miserable year at Red Bull in 2014, taking the Ferrari option this year is a win – win for the quadruple world champion, because no one expects them to win much – and Kimi by comparison to Ricciardo is getting long in the tooth.
Ferrari’s Arrivabene confused over Vettel time line
Historically Ferrari were always run in a dictatorial manner by a man who would use the Press and any other hangers-on for the benefit of his team.
Enzo Ferrari made politics a way of life in Maranello with favoured journalists and publications being fed half truths if and when the situation demanded it.
This became less obvious during the Montezemolo reign although Jean Todt would use any means to keep the red cars at the front of the grid. The Frenchman’s tenure at the helm leaving many loyal fans bemused by the machinations to keep the steamroller winning.
In a recent interview the Scuderia’s team principal – Maurizio Arrivabene – has suggested that Sebastian Vettel only finalised the deal with Ferrari after he had taken the decision to leave Red Bull.
“In the case of Vettel, Sergio Marchionne and myself were both aware when we were told officially that Fernando was leaving the team – I’m talking more or less about Sochi – the name of Vettel was going around and the situation was unclear.”
“I put a phone call in to a person I know and that he knows very well – it’s Sabine Kehm, the manager of Michael [Schumacher]. Sabine called Sebastian. Sebastian had some doubt, he was asking ‘what about Ferrari, I don’t know the team’. Sabine described the atmosphere that she found at the time of Michael and said it’s a great team, it’s like a family and Seb was listening.”
“The phone call which made the difference after this phone call was from Sergio Marchionne. Without that phone call Sebastian would probably not be here with us. This is the truth.”
Which is somewhat confusing when one looks at the history behind this union. The press reported rumours as far back as 2011 that Vettel had signed a letter of intent to join the Maranello squad.
In April last year, after Stefano Domenicalli had tendered his resignation – he was called by three drivers – Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian but the outgoing Italian refused to expand on the nature of that particular call.
Then the timeline has to be called into question. The four time champion told Red Bull that he was leaving during the weekend of the Japanese GP to which Christian Horner ungraciously told the Press that Vettel was going to Ferrari.
The following weekend the circus arrived for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi and Marchionne officially took over the Presidency of Ferrari two days later. Arrivabene was only confirmed as Marco Mattiacci’s replacement on the 23rd November during the Abu Dhabi race weekend.
So in the finest melodramatic tones – that Ferrari have used throughout the years – it seems they have in place a leader who also re-writes history to suit the Italian team’s purposes. Or has inadvertently let slip the long term game plan that was in place all along.
Alonso returns home as FIA investigate accident data
Fernando Alonso left the hospital in Barcelona yesterday three days after having his accident during testing at the Montmelo circuit. He had undergone a number of diagnostic checks which gave him the all-clear to discharge himself and he left to go to his home in Oviedo to recover fully.
No statement was forthcoming from the Spanish Samurai and it was left to Mclaren to officially announce that Kevin Magnussen would replace the two-time champion during the forthcoming final winter test.
The FIA also announced they will conduct an enquiry into the accident that befell the Asturian. Despite the accident happening during what is regarded as a private test session – the Federation is obligated to investigate any crash that results in a driver having to stay in hospital.
The FIA’s Safety Officer – Charlie Whiting – is gathering all the information from the Catalan circuit including closed circuit images which will help break down the minutiae of the accident.
Mclaren have been contacted by the FIA to provide the telemetry of Alonso’s lap and they will attempt to analyse the data so as to learn from the accident for future safety drives.
Button frustrated by Honda’s repeated breakages
Rumours had been circulated from late summer onwards that Honda were actually about six months behind schedule with their power unit. A delay that has been attributed to the company’s delays in setting up test benches in their research centre in Sakura to conduct long run simulations.
Following the original failure of a seal on Thursday – which curtailed all running – Honda fitted an updated replacement for Saturday’s session. Yet once again, despite limiting the performance of their power unit to aid Mclaren with aero set-up work – the part failed.
Jenson Button was reported to have said: “They must have changed everything – except the piece that keeps breaking!”
The main problem lies with the MGU-K – the electric motor that recovers kinetic energy under braking. It was suggested that maybe the Japanese could substitute their current unit for a design developed by Mclaren Applied Technologies which would prove embarrassing to the Oriental giant.
Of perhaps more concern to Ron Dennis and his team is that Honda declared last year that they would work in the manner they have always worked. Slowly and methodically. Which may be acceptable to a lower rung team but not to an F1 grandee that wants to return to winning ways.
Force India finally unveil VJM08
Force India has confirmed that their 2015 car – the VJM08 – will be in Barcelona for its first run of the new season. Following a few delays whilst sub-contractors waited to be paid, the car has been assembled and fired up at the team’s Silverstone base.
Force India Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer confirmed. “It has progressed well over the last few days and the car has now been fired up at the factory. That’s always the key moment when the car truly comes to life. We have seen a tremendous effort from every department over the last few months to get us to this stage and we’re looking forward to seeing the car take to the track later this week.”
“The VJM08 will arrive in Barcelona on Friday morning and the final set up will take place in the garage at the track. We are aiming to get out on Friday and the new car will run as much as possible over the weekend.”
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