A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
OTD Lite 2005 – Toyota celebrate first F1 podium
Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s I accumulated an extensive collection of Minichamps 1/43rd scale diecast F1 models. When Toyota announced their participation in F1 the proprietor of where I bought my models and I considered how Toyota would fare in the upper echelons of the sport.
After all, he reasoned. as the world’s biggest auto-maker and cash reserves that dwarfed many countries around the world – how could they fail? They had competed and won in rallying and Endurance racing and were preparing to spend a fortune.
Except the Jackal knew from history that money alone does not guarantee success. Only three years before BAR had entered with a fanfare and failed catastrophically to score a point. I was not convinced and with the natural Japanese conservatism I doubted Ferrari had much to worry about.
It took the German based Japanese manufacturer three years to secure a podium when on this day Jarno Trulli finished second to Fernando Alonso’s Renault in Malaysia. By the end of 2009 Toyota took the decision to withdraw from the sport and concentrate on easier challenges than Bernie’s circus.
Going, going, gone
First Bernie Ecclestone said, “it’s dead,” with the slight qualification, “at the moment”. Then Hockenheim came out last week stating they now did not have enough time to market a race in Germany properly this year.
Tonight the last rites were read over the 2015 German GP. A spokesman for the iconic Nurburgring told SID, “Due to time constraints, organisational and economic reasons, it makes no sense now to stage the race”.
Nurburgring claim they had submitted a detailed offer which included an element of profit/loss sharing with FOM. They also admitted they were prepared to take a loss on the race. “Because this far no agreement could be reached, we have now closed the window. We regret this very much.”
In January, when asked about the future of the 2015 German GP, Ecclestone mocked the race promoters saying, “But we’ve got one, it’s called Austria.”
Germany has had a Formula One race each year since 1956, yet in 2014 despite a German driver winning 9 of the previous 14 F1 titles, a mere 50,000 spectators attended the event.
Hockenheim are set to host the German GP in 2016, but with the lack of support, this race too will soon be under pressure.
Manor will be much better in Malaysia
Manor F1 suffered a difficult weekend in Australia where they were unable to get their cars to run. As a consequence the team was fined the cost of the air freight to and from Australia by Bernie Ecclestone.
Yet Graham Lowden is bullish about the team’s next outing in Malaysia in a week’s time. “We’ll be in a much better position by the time we get to Kuala Lumpur,” Lowden told BBC Look North.
“As a team we missed the chance to show what we can do [in Melbourne]. It was primarily down to software, they’re tremendously complex cars”.
There is clearly a sense of frustration within the team, because having scored their first points in Formula One they believed their 2015 car was well under way when the team were forced into administration. This followed the Russian GP when their benefactor Andrey Cheglakov refused to fund the team further and pay the existing company debts.
Ferrari are at present chasing the Russian Cheglakov, for more than $15m.
Despite having to relocate their factory and re-write key software that was erased from computers set to be auctioned off by the Marussia administrator’s, Lowden is optimistic.
“In the middle of last year we had managed to get this team set to a position where we could turn a few heads in 2015.
“We came ninth in the Formula 1 World Championship last year, and we beat two of the teams that arguably both had quicker cars and were better resourced, but we raced our cars better.
“Now I’ve seen where the opposition are in 2015, with the 2015 car we were advanced with, we could have really turned a few heads, if we hadn’t had to stop.
“There’s been a gap in our progress and we have to catch it up again.”
Had Manor been able to race in Australia, there’s a prospect they could have finished ahead of McLaren, who are having to be ultra careful with their Honda engine. The team from Woking finished 2 laps down on the coasting Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.
Manor boss claims Bianchi points crucial for their return
Jules Bianchi’s father spoke recently of the desperation that the family feels following his son’s horrific accident last year. It has naturally proven a difficult time and he explained how they are all coping with the subsequent anger at such a waste of a life.
In their own way, with the return of Manor to the F1 grid this year, team boss John Booth says that their return to the grid would have been impossible but for Jules’ ninth place finish in Monaco last year.
In the lead up to the Australian Grand Prix – the team secured funding that allowed their remarkable story to continue and Booth claims that the points the young Frenchman scored were crucial for attracting investors to the team.
“Without him, without those two points he got in Monaco last year, we would not be here. In the end, that is what convinced the new investors about the potential of the team.”
“Being here now is our way of saying to Jules that the race is not over until the chequered flag has fallen. I don’t know if our presence at the track is any help to his parents, but I hope it is, however small and insignificant.”
“We are the first to emerge from the worst ordeal Manor has ever been through, and I have no doubt that Jules will succeed as well.”
Sauber announces sponsorship agreement with Singapore Airlines
F1 was famously christened the Piranha Club back in the early 90’s and it seems that to function at any level within the sport you need skin thicker than the much-cliched crocodile.
Sauber’s Monisha Kaltenborn had mixed emotions over the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.
Prior to a wheel turning on track, Kaltenborn was at risk of having her team impounded and herself arrested following a court’s decision to find in favour of Geido van der Garde in his contract claims against the Hinwil squad. Yet on Sunday she celebrated as her two drivers scored points for Sauber for the first time in over a year.
Fast forward a few days and the team principal was welcoming Singapore Airlines – one of the world’s leading airlines – into the Sauber sponsorship portfolio. The agreement between the two is primarily to transfer team personnel to races held in the Asian and Australian territories.
“We are very enthusiastic to be starting this long partnership with Singapore Airlines – the most famous airline in the world that has a respected global presence. Their ambitions are unprecedented and allows them to provide the best service in the industry – which goes perfectly with our commitment to competition in F1”
Ranjan Jha, CEO of the Swiss subsidiary of Singapore Airline was also positive in his rhetoric: “We are very pleased to be the Official Airline Partner of the Sauber F1 team. We share the same fascination and passion for engineering with a common ambition to innovation, high quality and precision.”
“Sauber has been a well-known brand for many years with characteristics that are based on a great tradition. We are excited for this new season and we look forward to embracing on this journey together.”
Horner wants a ‘Friday’ engine
Having been vilified on social media for their threats to pull out of Formula One, Christian Horner has regrouped and is suggesting a more palatable rule change.
The teams are restricted to just four engines per car this year and will suffer a ten-place grid penalty for each engine they take over this allocation.
Red Bull having demanded Renault provide them with an aggressive prototype engine for Australia are now facing the abyss. Daniel Ricciardo has just three of his four engines left for the whole season following a complete failure of the development Renault engine Red Bull chose to run.
The new restrictions on engines did have an impact on the amount of running the teams did in Australia which in turn meant the fans saw less car action on track.
Christian Horner is now calling for the FIA to act and relax the engine regulations to provide more running on Friday. ”The situation is silly. We will now have to take five engines this year. Why not use this engine on Fridays?”
Horner is referring to engines deemed to have expired by the FIA and that it is cheaper to recycle these power units and use them for Friday running to provide the fans with more on track action.
“We travel the world, and sit in the garage on Fridays?” questions the Red Bull team boss. He argues the drivers are one of their most significant expenses, and to keep them sat around preserving kilometres and engines is nonsense.
So long as the cost to the customer teams is minimal, this idea has merit and the messenger should not be shot as a matter of course. Not surprisingly, this proposal would provide Renault/Red Bull with incremental testing of their power unit at race weekends, but McLaren may be sympathetic to this suggestion too.
Ferrari focused on catching Mercedes
Ferrari arrived in Australia in a confident mood following a successful pre-season testing regime – yet following a dismal 2014 they were reluctant to look beyond their immediate rival of Williams and Red Bull.
Following the Melbourne event the signs for Maranello would suggest that they are the second best team on the grid currently and Maurizio Arrivabene – Ferrari’s team principal – is suggesting that the Italian squad should be aiming their sites higher than ‘best of the rest.’
“Our first target was to look at Williams and Red Bull but now we need to start to be a bit more convinced about ourselves and to reduce the gap with the Mercedes guys.”
“I think we were, since Barcelona testing and after Friday and Saturday here in Australia, quite convinced about what we had in our pocket so we were not really concerned.”
His final comment revealed a considerable amount of why the culling of Maranello staff last year was required. With Felipe Massa having been kept on beyond what many believed was a reasonable time because of the loyalty of Fernando Alonso and Luca di Montezemolo – Arrivabene made clear just what the new Ferrari thinks of the little Brazilian.
“It’s a pity that Williams’s Valtteri Bottas was not there because it would have given us a clear benchmark, but I think we need to stop thinking about second. We need to start to think and look forward to first.”