Vodafone set to leave Formula 1?

Hamilton signs with Mercedes for 2013  by Les Speed – via F1QA – September 28th, 2012

With Lewis Hamilton jumping the good-ship McLaren Mercedes and Mexican Sergio Perez quickly brought on-board as his replacement, can Vodafone be far behind?

Celebrity Life Image by JohnONolan via Flickr

Reports had confirmed that McLaren were offering Lewis quite a bit less then his previous deal, which possibly with Jenson Button as team-mate and the fact that Lewis hasn't won a World Championship for some time might have been justified. That argument could go both ways, as with co-number one drivers and a slightly unrealiable car, how could Lewis have won a World Championship anyway?

Nonetheless, in the last four years since Lewis did win his one and only World Championship, everything has gone up in price; gas, food, travel, etc. So to be offered a lower salary as reward for the years of service, probably didn't sit right with the Flash of Stevenage, OBE and of whom, with the firing of his greatest mentor, his father Anthony, is obviously a man of few sentiments and of many ambitions.

Enter, stage right, Mercedes, who have known and somewhat nurtured Lewis' career over the years, to throw one of their own overboard and scoop the disorientated Flash while the scooping was good. After-all, the team needed a good reason to get the board in Struttgart to continue funding their addictions.

That in itself warrants a report of its own – as does, how McLaren is actually faring after launching a $200,000 Supercar in the midst of a Global recession.

Yet, with Telmex backed Perez in at McLaren, what does that say, in addition to the lower pay-packet offer, about Vodafone's committment to the future? Especially, now with the dynamic-British-duo no more. And to the rumours of Coca-Cola as a 2013 McLaren sponsor?

Are they the Real-Thing, after-all?

If you do recall Schweppes was a McLaren sponsor for years, so the Woking outfit knows how to service a drinks company and current sponsor, Lucozade, a potential clasher with Coca-Cola, has recently taken to promoting its MaxiMuscle brand on the rear wing. Plenty of intrigue and B2B potential ahead, no doubt.

Enjoy the show!

Twitter me at http://twitter.com/f1qa

 

Adam Parr’s departure was profitable for Williams

F1 business good for Williams after Ecclestone payment

By: Adam Cooper via Autoweek. SPEED TV on September 11, 2012

Williams Grand Prix Holdings has announced an improved financial performance for the first six months of 2012.
 
Pastor maldonado antes de chocar en los prĂ³ceres Image by anyulled via Flickr
 
The company says turnover on its core Formula One business has increased by 57 percent to $117 million, while net profits are up from $13.6 million.

Williams is one of 12 F1 teams, and is listed on the German stock exchange.

The team makes no secret of the fact that its performance has been boosted by a “sweetener”payment from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone related to the new Concorde Agreement.

It said in a statement: “The notable increases in half-year turnover and profit are largely due to our diversification strategy,as well as the recent receipt of a one-off payment following a new commercial agreement for our continued commitment to Formula One.”

Sir Frank Williams said: “Williams is at a very exciting stage in its history, and these promising results are indicative of this. We have made good progress on track this year, thanks in part to a new technical team, which has seen us pick up our first win in eight years. Our diversification strategy is also gaining momentum, positioning us as a leader in the development of cutting edge technology in areas such as sustainability and safety.”

CEO Alex Burns emphasized the company’s diversification strategy: “These results also validate our long-term business plan of adapting technology and know-how developed in Formula One for commercial application in energy efficiency, safety and education. Our core business is now generating strong revenue figures from projects outside of Grand Prix racing.

“For example, our partnership with Jaguar, to develop the ground breaking C-X75 hybrid supercar, is making good progress, and other Formula One teams are also using our technology, including a new deal with Marussia that will see them use our KERS technology next year.”

On the track, Williams driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela won the Spanish Grand Prix in May to give the team its lone win of 2012. Maldonado is 15th place in the driver standings, one spot ahead of teammate Bruno Senna.

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120911/f1/120919969#ixzz26Dqt1KJS

 

Ferrari chief and his vision of Formula 1

 

 

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has renewed calls for a cheaper Formula 1 with more testing and less reliance on aerodynamics – plus perhaps consideration given to shorter races.
 
Salone dell' Auto di Francoforte 2007 Image by schumachergirl1956 via Flickr

On a weekend where there has been a renewed focus on cost control in F1, di Montezemolo argued that the time was ripe for a big rethink about the future of the sport.

“We want an F1 with less cost,” he said at Monza. “Tell me why we have to spend a huge amount of cost to spend 24 hours in the windtunnel to do a small wing flap that for the public [the interest] is zero, for the television is zero, and for me as a road-car manufacturer it is less than zero because we will never use this for the road car?”

He added: “Ferrari has been in F1 for more than 60 years. The success in F1 is crucial. Ferrari will remain in F1 if F1 is F1 and not a race for electric cars or games. It is innovation and technology and, if you have to spend money, you spend it for the advanced research and not for something that is nothing to do with competition.”

Di Montezemolo met with FIA president Jean Todt and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone for talks at Maranello on Friday to discuss the future of grand prix racing – and said he believed important steps needed to be taken.

“I want to have rules that permit us to spend less, because I don't think if you say, this is [area] limited to spend [on], how can you control this?” he explained. “I think in the recent past, somebody cheated on this.

“So I prefer to have clear rules that allow [teams] to spend less, particularly in something that is not crucial for the spectators or the competition.”

Speaking about potential changes to the format of race weekends, di Montezemolo said: “Looking at young people, it [the length of races] is too long.

“Maybe I'm wrong but I think we have to look very carefully what we can do to improve the show of F1. I give you one example, one and a half hours is a long time for young people; maybe it is good instead to have the race in two parts.

“Maybe it is a mistake, but we have to think of something, we cannot stay always the same.

“We have to be innovative without losing the F1 DNA, like technology and innovation. Now, the last 10 laps if you are in the lead, you take care of the tyres, because maybe you don't arrive at the end, you take care of your engine. This is not F1 extreme; it is something we have to look at. Maybe we maintain the race, maybe it is something we change for the future.”

He also suggested that F1 should be more flexible about when races take place.

“You can maybe give more room for technological research for the road cars and also to improve the show, because this is another problem,” he said. “I don't think it's good to race in July and August at 2pm when the people are in the sea or on vacation. Soccer plays at 6, 7, 8 o'clock.”

Formula 1 Midseason Report: Felipe Massa

 

By 

t) on August 22, 2012

Before the start of the season, I highlighted six drivers who had a lot to prove going into 2012. The article can be found here.

The mid-season break is as good a time as any to revisit those men to see how they're progressing. First, let's take a look at Felipe Massa.

Felipe Massa's Ferrari F10 in the Senna Corner (Montreal) Image by Gregory Moine via Flickr

Background

Massa entered 2012 on very thin ice. He could—and probably should—have been dropped at the end of last year following an extremely disappointing 2011.

The Ferrari was the third-best car, occasionally the second-best, but Felipe's best finishing position in any race was fifth.

The year before hadn't been much better. While teammate Fernando Alonso battled for (and probably should have won) the title, Massa was a distant sixth place overall.

Since returning from the injuries he sustained at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Massa had started 38 races, won none (though he gifted the 2010 German Grand Prix to Alonso) and scored just five podiums.

His performances were far from good enough.


2012

The Ferrari was a very poor car at the start of the season. While Alonso managed to drag it around the track at a reasonable speed, Massa simply couldn't handle it.

This was somewhat expected; only the very best drivers can take a bad car and make it respectable.

But in a field with mere tenths separating the front-runners and the midfield, the size of the gap was just too big. After just two races, the knives were out, and lists of potential replacements were already being compiled.

After five, it seemed almost certain that he'd lose the seat at the end of the year—and possibly sooner.

Then Massa enjoyed a mini-revival at the sixth race, Monaco. He pretty much matched Alonso lap-for-lap most of the weekend, and finished close behind his teammate. That's exactly where Ferrari want him.

His pace was decent in Canada too, but an error early in the race put him into a spin and he fell from fifth to 11th, losing any chance of a podium finish. He'd demonstrated good pace at two very different circuits.

He wasn't especially poor at Valencia, either. The results say he finished a lap down while Alonso won, but on this occasion, Felipe was blameless. It was a combination oftrack debris, Kamui Kobayashi and a badly-timed (for him) safety car which left Massa a distant 16th.

And in the British Grand Prix, Massa qualified well in the rain and came home in fourth place, his best result of the season. In fact, it was his best result since 2010.

But one decent finish didn't prove a great deal. Felipe needed two good races before the summer break (a point at which a team may, if they haven't already, make a decision about their driver lineup for the next year).

In Germany, a first-lap accident dropped Massa to the rear of the field and he could only fight back to finish 12th. And in Hungary, a poor start from seventh left the Brazilian ninth after the first lap.

A race distance later, that was where he finished.


Has he proved a point?

The improvements in pace Massa has shown as the season has progressed won't harm his cause. In terms of pure pace, he appears to be largely within the window Ferrari want him operating in—within a few tenths of Alonso, with occasional blips.

Trouble is, he just isn't getting it done in the races. The pace he has means nothing if he can't convert it to good finishes.

It's true that he's had some poor luck here and there—Valencia, for example—but in Formula 1, a driver makes a lot of his own luck. If someone runs into trouble, it's usually because he put himself in trouble's way.

It doesn't matter that Felipe can point to a timesheet and say he was only 0.143-seconds slower than his teammate over the course of a lap.

What matters is the fact that, since he became able to drive the car at a half-decent pace (Monaco onwards), Massa has scored 23 points.

Alonso has scored 103.

I don't think he's done enough—and if he's still in F1 next year, it'll be a huge surprise.

 

Follow me on Twitter if you wish, @JamesNeilsen

 

Helmut Marko says the F1 Paddock is Jealous of Red Bull

 

Red Bull's Helmut Marko says the team is simply “more creative” than its rivals…
via SPEED Staff / GMM  |  Posted August 01, 2012   GMM Newswire
 
 

 

Head to head! Red Bull Racing and Lotus Renault trucks Image by Supermac1961 via Flickr

The paddock noise about Red Bull 'cheating' is fueled by jealousy, the team's Helmut Marko has claimed.

So far in 2012, the reigning champions have been at the center of most of F1's technical controversies, including holes in the floor, wheel hubs, engine mapping and ride height adjusters.

In a headline-writer's dream, team boss Christian Horner let his temper slip this week when German reports quoted him as denouncing the sagas as “bulls**t”.

And Austrian Marko, who is team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right hand man, denied in an interview with the German broadcaster RTL that Red Bull is overly “aggressive” when it comes to interpreting the rules.

“We are just more creative,” he said.

“We live within the regulations, but of course we also see how we can make them work best for us.”

Marko said “other teams” are simply not as good as Red Bull on that front.

“When they see us do something, they either copy it or they try to have it forbidden,” he said.

“The jealousy and envy that we see in the paddock is because we have won for the past two years, and because we are not a traditional racing team.

“I think this has fed this resentment and these attempts to disturb us in some way,” he added.

 

Where’s Bernie??

 

Nurburgring 'not annoyed' by Ecclestone snub

Nurburgring officials might be forgiven for feeling “annoyed” after being stood up at the weekend by Bernie Ecclestone.

Bernie Ecclestone  Image by RyanBayona via Flickr

Despite the Nurburgring entering an insolvency process, bosses Jorg Lindner and Kai Richter took the time and expense to travel to Hockenheim, specifically to meet with Ecclestone and discuss their circuit's crisis.

“They waited and waited, but Bernie did not come,” revealed the Suddeutschenewspaper.

Media reports speculated that the F1 chief executive stayed away for fear German prosecutors would order his arrest as they push forward with a bribery investigation.

“We are not annoyed,” a spokesman for the Nurburgring told DPA news agency.

“We are in contact in other ways (with Ecclestone) regarding formula one at the Nurburgring in 2013.”

Already convicted and jailed for receiving Ecclestone's bribes is the former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, whose lawyer Daniel Amelung says 81-year-old Briton Ecclestone cannot hide forever.

“I wonder how in the future he can fulfil his duties in Germany, in Europe, indeed in the entire world if the prosecutor should apply for an international arrest warrant,” he told Bild newspaper.

Ecclestone has been unavailable for comment.

(GMM)

Halfway Through the 2012 F1 Season That Has Never Failed to Thrill

By BRAD SPURGEON via IHT, nytimes.com

F1 Drivers Parade: Fernando Alonso in an Austin Healey Image by Gregory Moine via Flickr

HOCKENHEIM, Germany — We have now arrived at the halfway point of the longest Formula One season in history — 20 races, ending at the end of November — and I think it is safe to say that there has not yet been a boring race.

Formula One
Formula One

A view from the paddock with Brad Spurgeon.

The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on Sunday began looking as if it might end up a boring affair as Fernando Alonso scored pole position during a superb qualifying in treacherous, wet conditions and the Spaniard in the Ferrari looked set to hold onto the lead to the end. But with 25 laps left in the 67-lap race, a sudden teasing game began when Jenson Button in a McLaren managed to pass Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull and take second position after starting sixth.

Button looked like he would capitalize on Alonso’s Ferrari’s frequent weakness: its tires’ performance at the end of races. As the British driver — who has not won since the first race of the season in Australia in March — pressured Alonso, at about a second behind him for many laps, the race became a scenario of suspense and guessing.

But guessing that this time it would be the McLaren that wore out its tires seemed unthinkable. Yet, suddenly, it was Button who became the prey to the rapidly attacking Vettel, who passed Button with less than three laps left and finished second.

Then, two hours after the race, there was more excitement as it was announced that Vettel had illegally passed Button by driving off the edge of the track at the hairpin to get past the McLaren driver, gaining an unfair advantage. Vettel was penalized, with 20 seconds added to his race time. He dropped to fifth in the race classification, which raised Kimi Raikkonen of the Lotus team to third place, and Button to second.

None of this changed the winner: Alonso claimed his third victory of the season — the only driver who can make that boast — proving once that again that he can capitalize on every opportunity that presents itself. He extended his lead in the series to 154 points. Mark Webber, in the other Red Bull, has only 120 points, while Vettel has 110.

But the race had the added benefit of showing what happens when the series’ five German drivers compete in their home race. Vettel, who has never won a race in July — and therefore never won his home Grand Prix — once again failed, with victory looking like it was teasing him, so close yet so far.

Michael Schumacher started third on the grid and finished seventh in a strong race which had the German driver outperforming his teammate — Nico Rosberg, another German, who finished 10th — for the third race in a row. And Nico Hulkenberg in a Force India, finished ninth.

The only German driver who did not finish in the top 10 was Timo Glock, in the inferior Marussia car that has not scored a point so far in its two and a half seasons in the series.

In the end, there was plenty to watch and dream about here, just as there has been at every race so far this year, and as the tight season no doubt promises for the next 10 races.