Daily News and Comment: Thursday 10th September, 2015

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Jenson Buttons F1 career in the wind again.

Last year could be considered an “end”, in a sense for Mclaren. They were winding down their partnership with Mercedes, after 19 years together, and being the de-facto works team until Mercedes bought Brawn in 2009.

They had lost Hamilton to Mercedes the previous year, in a move that the majority of the F1 world panned as a “huge mistake”. Of course we all know now that Hamilton’s choice was a brilliant one. This was not only a loss for Mclaren in terms of drivers, but an unspoken commentary on the direction Lewis thought Mclaren was headed. No one thought Lewis was right back then, but hindsight is 20/20.

Big Ron tried to play it cool in 2014 when the silly season kicked into high gear earlier than usual. There was so much speculation in the media about who was going where it was hard to keep everyone’s story straight. While some may say Ron signing Alonso was a similarly smart move by Mclaren a-la Lewis to Mercedes,  the rest of the cynics understood that their newfound love and affection was all smoke and mirrors.

Neither of them had anywhere else to go.

There was no competitive team for Alonso to move to, and Honda wanted a big name talent. Alonso was the only one available.

That left the question of who would be Alonso’s teammate. Jenson had been a stalwart competitor for Mclaren since 2010, having signed following his 2009 Championship season. But there is no doubt Ron was pushing for his young protege Kevin Magnussen. Eric the believable and Ronnie proceeded to play out their contract negotiations with Jenson in the media. Pitting their two drivers against one another with the 2nd seat going to the victor.

In the end, which turned out to be the very end indeed – December, Jenson signed what Ron called a “2 year deal”. In fact he made a point about it, implying that if Jenson wouldn’t sign to a longer term deal, was he “really committed?”. Well as with most F1 contracts, the details are in the fine print. That 2 year deal has an option after one year, and guess who has the option. Commitment is a two way street Mr. Dennis.

So once again we get to play the, “Does Jenson have a drive?” game.

Mark Webber weighed in on the situation in his BBC interview:

“To know he’s going into a race and has no chance is mentally very difficult, I’d love to see him try something different, try sportscars. I get frustrated watching his situation. I want to see him in a competitive car but is that going to happen next year? Unlikely.”

In fact Jenson has zero chance of getting into a title winning car, be it a Mclaren or someone else’s. There is little reason left for him to stay in Formula One.

Jenson doesn’t really need the money and anyway as part of his new “2 year” contract, his remuneration was reduced from 12m to 8million BP.

Jeremy Clarkson famously said the reason the Stig was silent, was because they couldn’t find a racing driver that could speak intelligently enough to hold a conversation past a few sentences. Well there is an exception to every rule, and Button would be that exception.

There can be no doubt that several of the big name media outlets contacted Jenson last year in the midst of his negotiations, and offered him a commentary post. In the post-Jezza Top gear world, there has even been speculation that the Beeb has offered Jenson a spot on their revamp.

But the BBC is not the monolith it once was and in a new world order where streaming services like Netflix and Google are taking viewers from broadcast television, the money is now flowing from alternate sources, exemplified by the deal the former Top Gear hosts have signed with Amazon.

Since the “Stig” is owned by the BBC, the 3 blokes are going to need a new racing driver to do their lap times, and what better option than Jenson. A man capable of holding tightly onto a race car, and an intelligent conversation.

There is nothing left for him at Mclaren, and a preemptive retirement announcement at Suzuka would surely leave even the outspoken Mr. Dennis at a loss for words, trying to explain to the media why the driver he demanded sign a “2 year deal” just dropped him like a hot potato.

Lotus will definitely be in Egypt this year

The end of the 2014 season was a disaster for F1. Manor and Caterham collapsed, missing the final 3 races of the season, and putting FOM contracts with the circuits in jeopardy. There was even speculation that Lotus, Force India, and Sauber might intentionally miss at least one race in order  to “take a stand” against the secret contracts that give the larger teams, the larger share of the money pie.

The lead up to the US GP was filled with speculation and questions, and as everyone knew the chances of both teams making it were slim to none, yet until the cargo planes left, all we heard was denial.

Once again, there are rumours of a team’s financial woes permeating the media, with Lotus having been under the spotlight for nearly the entire 2015 season. The troubles are so bad that CEO Matthew Carter has felt the need to reassure everyone that Lotus will be at  every race this year.

“I can guarantee you that we’ll be at Singapore,” he said. “One of our sea-freight containers has left, our airfreight will leave this week. We will be in Singapore.

“The negotiations that were referred to are going on behind the scenes. I’m hopeful that’s going to secure our future one way or the other going forward – and when I say one way or the other it just means we have more than one option going forward to secure the future of the team.”

“As far as the races of this season, we have a budget in place and we will operate to that budget and will be at all the races.”

Me thinks he doth protest too much – just as Boullier before him who was convinced that Ijaz Mansor’s cheque was in the post.

Two Weeks

If you have never seen “The Money Pit”, do yourself a favour, and watch it.  It is the story of a couple buying a house, and subsequent repairs to that house drive Tom Hanks to near madness and financial ruin. There is a running joke throughout the movie – every time Tom or his finance ask the construction crews how long it will take to finish, they always get the same response. Two Weeks.

Carlos Goshen said he had an announcement to make, “this week,” on July 29th

Yet Renault’s decision on whether to buy Lotus or not has not been declared.

The hold up – you guessed it – is money.

Renault, having been in F1 in one form or another for over 39 years, is looking to supplement their income by demanding “heritage payments” from FOM. This is nothing new, because Ferrari,  Williams and Mclaren receive them too. Even Mercedes and Red Bull get some ‘historic’ recognition payments.

Yet the chief of the F1 treasury has been guarded on whether CVC can afford to make this incremental payment. Despite the fact that they are planning a 1 billion dollar dividend to the shareholders in the coming weeks.

What is truly amazing, is that Bernie, at least in the media, has hinted that he is actually open to the idea. But Bernie is a negotiator, and what he is offering Renault is not apparently what they had hoped for.

Bernie is willing to part with an extra 12 million dollars in an effort to keep Renault/Lotus on the grid. To many of us that amount of money is nearly unfathomable, but to FOM that is barely 1 % of the PROFIT they are taking away from the sport.

However, Carlos Ghoshen has not become the CEO of two of the largest car companies in the world by being a bad negotiator. He has since called Bernie’s bluff, knowing that Mr. E is having trouble filling the 2016 grid.

Renault has demanded that Bernie commit to his offer in writing.

Unsurprisingly, this is further holding up the “all but certain” sale. Despite CVC’s man being known for doing deals on a handshake.

Christian Horner was asked about the situation in Italy, and given that Red Bull’s position as the de facto Renault works team is fundamentally affected by this, one would think he would be well informed on the matter.

When asked specifically about timescales for the bilateral deals for Red Bull and Lotus with Renault to be finalised, Handsom Spice replied:

“I would have thought within the next two weeks..”

Sometimes Life imitates Art – or at least Hollywood movies

Lewis in a tif with Mark Sutton.

In tabloid news, Mark Sutton of Sutton images is in dispute with Lewis and Mercedes.

Lewis posted a picture taken by Mark Sutton showing Hamilton’s frustration at the events in Monza, portrayed in a rubber laden impulsive art form from a Lewis, as he delivered a one handed standing burnout on his motorbike as he left the circuit.

The picture taken by Mr. Sutton had been photoshopped and most of his watermark had been cropped out. Neither Lewis or Mercedes gave him credit for the photo.

Mark took to Social media to vent his frustrations with threats of lawsuits. Mercedes played dumb, and the trolls on the inter webs took the opportunity to voice their opinions on the matter. You can guess how those conversation evolved. The Hamfosi backing their man, and most of the rest of the world supported Sutton.

The reality is the entire argument is probably moot. Bernie owns the rights to ALL images and video taken inside the fences at an F1 event.

If Mr. Sutton had inadvertently caught something scandalous on his camera, whatever that may be, you can rest assured Bernie would decide whether or not it was good PR for F1. Any pictures or video damaging to F1 released by an accredited F1 photographer, would invariably mean they wouldn’t be an F1 photographer for much longer.

So Bernie owns the right to Lewis’s image at the track, wether he is in the car, or taking a loo break. That’s part of the contract Lewis signed with Mercedes, and falls under the contract Mercedes has with Bernie.

Sorry gentleman, even your fights are controlled by FOM.

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37 responses to “Daily News and Comment: Thursday 10th September, 2015

  1. I was probably the only one in the world who said Hamiltons move to mercedes was a good one 😂
    And on the matter of his photo. I’m not a hamifosi but I did defend him. It’s a photograph with himself in it. Why shouldn’t he use it. If Sutton made a picture with himself doing a burn out nobody would care about it. So he makes one of hamilton. Because he knows people want to see that. Why wouldn’t the subject of that picture be in his right to use that picture on his social media? After all without him the picture would be useless…

    • Really, the only one in the entire world???? It was good to see the leap. I’m not a hamfosi but thought it was a good and bold move.

      • yup, find it strange that ‘nobody’ thought it was a good move. it seemed clever move from Lewis to to me at the time, mercs desire to outspend the rest of the grid combined for the new regs seemed well advertised.
        Fortune favours the brave alright 🙂

    • The point of Sutton is that he doesn’t get the credit. If you use his photo have the decency to leave that Sutton mark in the corner.

      • Sutton has a gripe with Lewis that runs deeper than just a few photos.

        I saw this story yesterday and took the liberty to visit his Facebook page and read some of the comments. In a reply to one commentator, Sutton revealed his true feelings, in which he had a go at Lewis by saying,

        “He treats the photographers really bad, he would not/had never even taken any of us out for a meal or drinks”….. Something along those lines…

        So I guess had Lewis probably taken him out in the past, then this wouldn’t be a big deal.

        Furthermore, he’s at all the races, why not approach Lewis and discuss the issue face to face? Why take it to Facebook and then comment that “I don’t like to rant”?

        But I guess doing it that way improves his profile and gives him a few column space in the news.

          • Could you elaborate on that please? I am very bored at work and in desperate need of something juicy!

          • And none of the drivers that ‘we’ all love aren’t the real people we think they are.

            But that is besides the point. There are proper ways to go about things and in this case, Sutton could’ve approached him personally and discuss the issue. And the same would go for any other driver who was caught up in that situation.

          • Yes and there are rules everyone in F1 knows not to break. Lewis is well aware of the rules.

            AHJ went to see Arden in Abu Dhabi – told no pictures of any kind allowed inside the circuit perimeter. Bernie owns the rights, sold to Getty, Sutton etc…

            Hammy lives in a bubble – no dogs allowed ever in the paddock, except Lewis got Roscoe a pass – until Ecclestone came to his senses and banned the mut.

          • And which driver does not live in a ‘bubble’?

            As for the issue with his dogs, what does that have to do with what I’m discussing?

            Furthermore, should the blame not fall on Bernie’s head for granting him such a stupid request in the first place? It’s not like he just took it upon himself to just bring the dogs into the paddock.

          • I can’t believe I’m commenting on this on a F1 site but… there’s always dogs at F1 circuits, The sky guys almost fell over two post race and there were loads zig zagging the Monza paddock, mostly handbag sized though so probably snuck in!

            As for the image, well it appears to not have had a watermark in the first place, so where did he get the image from in the first place?

        • Sorry Fortis but Sutton really doesn’t need to improve his profile. I can understand his gripe at not getting credit,its his job and I should imagine that he will get pretty miffed when anyone uses an image without permission. I myself came unstuck a while ago with Getty, I was held to ransom over an image I used on my company web page..it took a while to sort and we dodged a £6000 bill so now its engrained over

          • I’m not disputing Sutton’s need to feel aggrieved by what happened. All I’m saying is, the situation could’ve been handle better and in a more professional manner, rather than bringing it into the public domain.

          • That’s bullshit. If any photographer, professional or not uses me in a photo I’ll use that anyway I want. Copyright something with me in it and and expect me not to use it? Same goes for hamilton. He is the subject of the picture. Without him Sutton would not have anything to complain about because there would be no photo. ..

          • Bruznic: It depends on the circumstances. In town, on a beach, on the plane you are right, you have the right to use any images you are in. However, within a circuit the likes of Lewis – and probably any fans who visit – accept the conditions laid down when they enter, one of which will be they waive all claims to the use of their image.

            It is just an organisation protecting its image. Everywhere does it – why do you think stately houses for example only allow ‘images for personal use’ – they want to control where images of their property are used and don’t want anyone benefitting from those images who haven’t paid for permission to take them.

            And the same applies for Sutton – he has had to pay a probably quite significant sum to be allowed to take photos within the circuit and needs to sell those photos to recoup this investment. If Lewis goes around using his photos without paying then his investment in buying the rights to take those photos is damaged.

            Fortis: Do we know for sure there haven’t been private attempts to handle this? Do we know this isn’t something that has happened before? Maybe the method of resolution was adopted as nothing else has worked in the past? Generally professional people do only adopt this sort of approach if all else has failed so I’d want to see a more detailed back-story before accepting your argument.

          • Bruznic is right.
            The rights are normally with the subject, but I guess the drivers must sign a waiver and give the rights to FOM as part of their F1 contract.

      • @Hedgehog

        +1

        I think Sutton also has a justified gripe about the number of people who “steal” his photos, and then Photoshop out his logo, and the same goes for AMuS photos. But the real cheek comes from a couple of so called ‘technical blogs’, who use his photos, credit him, and don’t pay the usage fee.

  2. Coulthard was probably the only f1 insider that supported Lewis move.What most people dont realize, Mclaren was orchestrating a massive negative media campaign against Lewis,where they got every man and his dog to condemn lewiss move.They got the Jacky stewart and the John watson of the world to come out and attack lewis on his decision,a PLAY on the media meme of Lewis lack of intelligence.
    I cant wait to see the back of Button in F1,his willingness to play and benefit from nativist games to beat Lewis lost me all respect for him.

    How the mighty have fallen,Button was sooo big at Mclaren under Witmarsh that he would speak as part of Management and the team made it be known that he had a job for life at Mclaren,and that when he retires as a driver he would be transition into management.
    Button was so self assured at Mclaren that he setup his own driver management company to bring in his preferred drivers to Mclaren.Diresta was his 1st signing to take Lewsiss place,but there was a problem, Diresta was managed by Lewiss dad.Diresta tried to break ties,thing got messy and Mclaren wouldnt touch him.

    At the end of 2012 Sam Micheal was mocking Lewis in the post race press,saying that his car was being used to test for Button and Perez for 2013.Where is he now GONE….Witmarsh……GONE….Button,not only has he not won a race but,has not been on the podium since Lewis left,and is all but GONE.

    his tattoo ,still rise I rise,was a big middle finger to the Witmarsh and the Buttons of the world who conspired to keep him down.how salient and prophetic that Tattoo seem now.

    • Eddie Jordan was in his corner, let’s not forget that it was he who broke the story and people thought he was just being ‘ole dopey’ Eddie again.

    • What really was the lowest point was when Wihmarsh said he and all of Mclaren didn’t wish Hamilton well in his new job. Withmarsh turned out to be a disaster for McLaren in the end and I believe they are still paying for the things they did. They destroyed the trust of some major brands in 2012 with the pathetic pitstops and nonchalance about aiming for excellence.

    • I think the main problem was that Mercedes appeared to be doing a good job of self-destructing. There was infighting and the architect of the revival was in the process of being pushed out. The people left in charge didn’t give a good impression of being able to run a kart team let alone a top flight F1 operation.

      Luckily those doubts were proved wrong. Why luckily? Because if they were true we’d be in the middle of another period of Ferrari domination….

    • I was 100% supportive of the move. Hamilton needed the change in scenery as the environment had become toxic for him at McLaren back in 2012.

      McLaren enjoyed stitching Hamilton back in 2012, with all the botched pit-stops, the under-fuelling in qualifying in Spain (he got pole), despite being consistently faster than Button for the first half of the season and yet McLaren opted to design their car to suit Button’s style of driving… Let’s not even mention Spa-gate where McLaren miraculously find that the new wing works and only fit it on Button’s car who goes on to win pretty easily. Hamilton showed lots of patience towards McLaren but even he had enough after retiring from the lead at Singapore.

      The rest is history.

      I won’t be forgetting 2012 in a while, watching Hamilton win now and McLaren scrap for no points at the back is only retribution for some of the BS he had to deal with in his last season with them. I will gladly watch McLaren toil at the back for another couple of seasons, if they (McLaren, Honda or both, which ever applies best) work out their problems good for them but I only see a drastic rule-change bringing McLaren-Honda back to the top of the standings. Which would be in 2018, I guess ?

      Button should have retired last season frankly, there’s nothing left for him. The same could possibly be said for Alonso, imagine if they do leave (a whole season at the back for 2 WDCs is hardly motivating) then McLaren would have only Magnussen and Vandoorne left, would Honda even contemplate staying in F1 under those circumstances ? Especially with all the media ****-storm going around them right now ?

      • 3 consecutive races where parts were supposedly incorrectly installed on Lewis car to crush any tittle hopes……that 10 million they refuse to pay Lewis is now costing and will eventually cost them a billion in lost sponsors and prize money.

        • McLaren could put Maldonado in the car and get the same results as Alonso. Having Hamilton around wouldn’t have made a bit of difference.

  3. “Bernie owns the rights to ALL images and video taken inside the fences at an F1 event.” No – if I, as a private person, take a photograph at a race, I own the copyright in that photo, not FOM. It could be different for accredited photographers, who might have a contractual relationship with FOM (assignment of the photographer’s copyright and licence back to commercially exploit the photos that they took). At the very least, photographers have a moral right to have their authorship of a photo acknowledged (CDPA 1988 S.77), which means that watermarks must not be scrubbed out.

    • I wonder if FOM owning all images inside the circuit might be achieved by either a simple statement on the entry ticket (something like ‘entry is subject to terms and conditions published on the web site’) or a sign stating entry to the circuit is conditional on accepting the terms and conditions of the circuit, published etc…….

      I do agree that any photos a ‘normal’ person takes should be their own work, but this is Bernie we are talking about……..

    • I’d suspect this means the right to make money from those images. It’s very common that a condition of entry is you can only take photos for personal use.

      The issue I suspect is what counts as commercial gain. Would Lewis gain in any way from using these images? A normal person would not, however F1 drivers are a brand as well as a person so things become much more complicated…

  4. I’m pretty sure both Jenson and Alonso are on identical contracts, both signed for 2 years with an option held by McLaren. If true, just shows how much they trust Alonso and hold not a lot of faith with Button. These are the darkest years for Woking really…..

    • When Hamilton left at the end of 2012 it almost reminded me the time when Senna left at the end of 93 and the Peugeot year (!)
      Well, it’s almost the same now, let’s hope that Honda will turn out to be another ‘Merc’ and someone like Vandoorne another ‘Mika’.

      • Vandoorne is going for Lewis’ GP2 podium record (14 in a year) and has similarly never finished below the top 5 in a full racing season (same for Hulk in the junior levels).

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