#F1 Daily News and Comment: Sunday, 26th April 2015

DNandC

A Daily Round up of Formula One news, inside whispers, opinion and comment. Today,

Play with the fire and get burned

Solid debut for Schumacher jr.

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.

piechTwo 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.

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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.

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27 responses to “#F1 Daily News and Comment: Sunday, 26th April 2015

    • I don’t see anyone in their own right mind entering F1 right now and developing a new power unit, unless they have severe masochistic tendencies. After what happened to Honda this year, and to Renault for two years running, by now it’s abundantly clear that it’s extremely easy to get it wrong with this experimental new technology: either it goes slow, or it pops up at every corner, or both.

      And the biggest issue is that existing manufacturers will have had some 4-5 years of development, and 2-3 years of on-track testing. Whereas a potential Audi entry will have had a mere 8 days of real-life, on-track testing. Just can’t imagine how this could go wrong… 😉

      • I don’t know, but maybe they allready have engines? If they also have a billion or three at the ready and if Brawn feels like ‘Lets do this again’… I predict succes!

      • I’m not sure that’s true. Audi have been doing racing hybrid power units longer than the 3 manufacturers, so should have some ideas and transferable technology. So not because 2 manufacturers have not aced the technology, doesn’t mean that they wont. Need I remind you of how bad the Ferrari power unit was last year?

        Honda’s problem seems to rest with their ERS system, so I wouldn’t say that they’ve failed miserably, let’s wait until the season is over first before we label it a failure.

        • Actually Audi should be in a good position to transfer it’s WEC gained hybrid systems into F1 (as the FIA intended with how it laid out the technical regs for both categories on the engine side of things). I suspect VW’s desire for F1 is due to Mercedes current dominance and F1’s global reach with consumers.

          It’s way too easy to criticise Ferrari, Renault and Honda for not matching Mercedes success (which is the benchmark). The technology is quite complex, which makes it easy to get wrong. I’m sure once Honda gets on top of it’s ERS woes, we’ll see a more competitive power unit from them (If they do, we will have the prospect of Alonso and Button charging through the field). Ferrari have done a good job of turning it’s power unit around in a short space of time. Renault wise ? Poor design choices (it seems) exacerbated by a team that has no patience and wants instant success. If I were Renault I’d ditch Red Bull and get a works team pronto. Or leave F1 and enter WEC.

      • You forget that the japs don’t have that what people call deutsche Gründlichkeit. If the Germans do something at a technical level they do it properly

        • Grundlichkeit takes time, which they didn’t really have… They don’t call the Japanese the Germans of the far east for nothing 😉 (nothing to do with ww2;))

          • All right, that was more the other way around: shit car for double money.

            So there is something else besides grundlichkeit – and I think it must be in the corporate culture, you need a climate where you can try and fail.

            Then again…
            Mercedes and red Bull are British. Toyota was run from Köln…

          • But Toyota is running their le mans project from Köln and that’s evolving the right way. Something their f1 project never did. That’s was more trying to hard and making bad dessicions because of that factor.

          • Great if someone buys hundreds of your cars to tear down and do reverse engineering,it comes as no surprise.

        • actually, VWs most profitable brands only turned around after the Japs were brought in to show them how to optimise their manufacturing process

  1. Audi in F1. Christmas has come late for Bernie. He will already be spending their money.

    • Is it too late to remind him of “I’ll resign if it got Audi and Renault to buy out Red Bull/Toro Rosso :)”

      • I would love it, but I think it would be bad for Sauber, Force India, Lotus and Manor. I’d rather keep RedBull / Toro Rosso with cosworth engines and that Audi buys Force India and then Renault should return to Enstone.
        If only BMW and Jaguar would also
        .. Huh? What wait, where am I? It’s sunday?

  2. Piech wasn’t fond of Bernie. I think the door is opened for VAG to enter Formula 1 in 2018. I don’t think Audi would leave WEC where they’ve had success. Good results for Mick Jr & Harrison.

  3. as far as I know, it was Piech who save the 30.000 jobs, back when he was head of VW, which is why he traditionally had a very good relationship with the trade unions, not winterkorn, I could be mistaken though.

    • You’re mistaken. It was Winterkorn, who introduced the 28 hour week to save the jobs.Piëch had done something similar in 2011 for the main plant in Wolfsburg, but this time he wanted to axe the jobs

  4. Way of course I realise, but is anyone out there paying attention to the trials and tribulations Mr Todt has undergone recently, along with his syncophants, in their endeavour to live an important life and squander the coffers of the FIA?
    Road safety in Nepal, for the Asia/Pacific region, no less…………….You couldn’t make it up!

  5. 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.

    Yeah, as though joining F1 was the main reason he got ousted

    or that still controlling 51% of the VW shares means Audi can rush out and have mad parties

    theres also the small matter of VW on a big mission to reduce costs across the board

    But why let facts get in the way of a bit of tittilation?

      • Whatever explanation dont excuse the simple fact that there are 2 sides to any supposition – facts for and facts against – when one supplies the for side and ignores the against side then its not really an objective bit of news – just a shallow opinion with a bias towards what you already decided is the ‘interesting’ aspect

        no objective report on ‘Piechs departure = new investment in F1’ would be complete without informing the readers of the wider context,

        e.g.

        The exit of Piech, who spearheaded VW’s campaign to make everything from motorcycles to 40-tonne trucks and has publicly shown affection for Fiat Chrysler’s (FCHA.MI) Alfa Romeo brand, also curbs the risk of distracting purchases at a time when VW is seeking to cut billions of euros of costs at its core division, said Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst.

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