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.
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.