A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,
Play with the fire and get burned
One might wonder if Bernard Ecclestone has been paying attention to the news last night as he would have gotten a reminder that nobody is invincible.
Two week ago, TJ13’s provocateur-in-chief Fat Hippo ranted about the upcoming clash of clans between the Piëch’s and the Porsche’s, who together hold the majority of Volkswagen shares.
In a Bernie-esque fashion Piëch, the Chairmain of the board of directors at the German carmaker, has been the undisputed godfather. That’s why everybody in the media started to write VW CEO Martin Winterkorn’s obituary when Piëch mentioned that he had distanced himself from the man he installed himself as successor to Bernd Pischetzrieder, whom he had installed and axed as well.
I guess it’s not too difficult to see a pattern here – “Ferdie giveth and Ferdie taketh”. However, this time he’d gone too far. Winterkorn has brought the automotive giant back on track, but not without collateral damage. The model strategy on the US market is weak, there is no strategy at all for the small car segment and of all the bazillion brands owned by the company, Volkswagen itself has the weakest profit margins as people have long realized that a Volkswagen Passat is just a Škoda Superb in a boring frock and buy the cheaper model from the Czech.
So, technically, Piëch had a point, but he went about it in his typical fashion instead of looking for allies. However, he has spectacularly miscalculated this time as it is Winterkorn who has the allies – for instance the trade unions, who threw their weight behind the CEO because he didn’t implement Piëch’s idea of making 30.000 people redundant to improve profits. Instead he convinced the workforce to agree to a four-day week with appropriate reductions in pay and saved the jobs.
Everyone, from the state of Lower Saxony to the Porsche family, distanced himself from Piëch’s unprovoked attack on the CEO and gave Winterkorn a unanimous vote of confidence while extending a peace offering to Piëch. During a recent private crisis meeting between the two clans however, instead of crossing the bridge the Porsche’s built for him, the ageing Zampano charged ahead and tested the waters if Winterkorn could be axed before the next board meeting on May 5th. He drowned.
After the board members have unanimously declared that Piëch is no longer tenable, the once omnipotent patriarch and his wife have resigned their seats and left the building in disgrace. It will now be interesting to see if Audi gets that F1 proposal back out. After all it was Piëch’s solitary veto in January, which had nixed it.
Solid debut for Schumacher jr.
Young Mick Schumacher, son of the seven-times world champion has finished his first ever car race at the Motopark Oschersleben in east Germany in ninth position after coming through the 35(!) car field from a 19th starting position. This earned him a trip to the podium as the best placed rookie in the race.
The result also means that he’ll start the third race of the weekend from the front row as the Sunday race will see the top 10 from race one start in reversed order. Directly behind him will be his team mate, Ade’s offspring Harrison Newey, who finished the first race in seventh.