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!

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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.

 

F1 ยป Hamilton hits 100GP’s in Germany

Lewis Hamilton: I still remember my first [F1 race] as if it were only yesterday…

2010 Canadian Grand Prix Podium: Hamilton, Button, Alonso Image by Gregory Moine via Flickr

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will reach a landmark in Germany next weekend, when he takes in his 100th F1 race, and he has admitted that he finds it quite 'unbelievable' that he has already done so many grand's prix.

The 2008 F1 world champion has enjoyed much success since making his debut at the top level back in 2007, and while Silverstone last time out was disappointing and he only finished eighth in front of his home fans, he is already looking ahead and looking to strike back.

Indeed he is keen to mark his latest F1 milestone in style and given his current position in the drivers' championship, he is 37 points off Fernando Alonso, a win – his second win of the year – would be well-timed.

“I was quick to get over our disappointing weekend at Silverstone, running with the Olympic flame on the day after the race and then quickly turning my full attention to Hockenheim.

“Unbelievably, next weekend will mark my 100th grand prix. That's incredible, because I still remember my first as if it were only yesterday – I guess F1 has that effect on you!” Hamilton said.

Looking to the German GP more specifically weekend, Hamilton added that he likes the Hockenheimring, although he wishes he would have got the chance to race on the old longer layout.

“It's always been a regret of mine that I arrived in F1 too late to race on the classic Hockenheim layout, where the track disappeared for miles into the forests and was only broken up by a couple of relatively high-speed chicanes,” Hamilton continued.

“It must have been incredible battling round that track with minimal downforce, locked in a slipstreaming battle with another car and waiting for just the right moment to pounce and overtake.

“Still, I very much enjoy the updated track – it's a place that's built for racing: the hairpin at the end of the back straight is a classic overtaking spot, and the whole layout seems to make it more inviting for a following car to attempt an overtake,” he concluded.

 
 

Coca-Cola rumored as McLaren major sponsor…

 

F1: Sources Insist Coke Eyeing McLaren Sponsorship Deal
via SPEED Staff / GMM  |  Posted July 11, 2012   GMM Newswire
 

Button Rocket Image by polarjez via Flickr

Sources continue to insist that Coca-Cola is interested in entering Formula One as a sponsor.

Business journalist Christian Sylt suggested recently that Coke, arguably the most recognized brand name in the world, could replace McLaren's title sponsor Vodafone.

It had emerged that Vodafone is currently reviewing its major sponsorships.

Another F1 journalist, however, on Tuesday rubbished the “stupid” story on the basis that McLaren already has a drinks sponsor, Lucozade.

But two well-placed sources insist that the Coke rumors are real.

One of the sources said he can prove that Coca-Cola's global head of sports sponsorship has been obtaining detailed data on the beverage sponsorships sector in F1.

He said Coke has “more than a passing interest” in the sport.

The other source, meanwhile, said the Coke/McLaren link is so strong that a potential 2014 McLaren livery has been contemplated that harks back to McLaren's classic red and white of the '80s and '90s.

McLaren's current grey/silver livery dates back to 1997, but its engine partner Mercedes' rival works cars are now also colored similarly.

Moreover, the Woking-based team will begin to pay for its Mercedes engines from 2013, as Force India does already.

“If McLaren goes ahead and switches its livery, it would make sense to do it for a brand as big as Coke,” said Sylt on Wednesday.


 

F1 — Webber and Alonso emerging as favourites

 

By Alan Baldwin — via Reuters — LONDON, July 9 – After a wet and muddy British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone, Formula One could see some sort of a pattern emerging in a season that has so far stood out for unpredictability.

Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso and Webber Image by nic_r via Flickr

Ferrari and Red Bull like the look of it but for McLaren, and their world champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, it is not a pretty sight.

The long-suffering but loyal 125,000-strong crowd on Sunday saw Ferrari's Fernando Alonso start on pole position and Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber take the chequered flag and winner's champagne.

At the previous race in Valencia it had been a Red Bull on pole, this time with double world champion Sebastian Vettel at the wheel, while Alonso went on to triumph in front of his home Spanish fans.

Alonso and Webber are now the only two drivers to have won twice in the nine races so far this year and Silverstone's rain-soaked track handed both their teams their biggest points haul of the season from a single race.

The Spaniard has 129 points to Webber's 116 with Vettel the only other driver with a three figure tally on 100.

With three races in quick succession this month – Germany and Hungary are on back-to-back weekends – there is the danger that by the time the teams head into the August break the championship has gone from being wide open to a two-team tussle at the front.

McLaren tumbled from second to fourth overall with Hamilton now 37 points adrift of Alonso and behind both Red Bull drivers.

“A pattern is sort of starting to emerge but that could be thrown out of the window quite easily at the next race,” said ever-cautious Red Bull principal Christian Horner.

“I think it's far too early to write off anybody in this championship.”

FERRARI RECOVERY

That said, Red Bull and Ferrari have been consistent.

Alonso has now finished his last 21 races in the points while Webber has suffered only one retirement in the past 12 months and finished in the top four in seven of nine this season.

“I'm very proud of the Ferrari recovery in the last few weeks and now we have been fighting for the victory in the last three or four grands prix,” said Alonso after Sunday's race. “So we're heading in the right direction.”

Ferrari, celebrating a first pole since 2010 and fourth-placed Brazilian Felipe Massa's best result since that year, appear to be hitting their stride after a sluggish start to the season.

Red Bull, who had both their drivers on the podium together for the first time this year, have also figured out how to make their car go faster.

“Obviously we got some confidence with our car in Valencia. I think that before then, we'd been finding our way with the new regulations, but I think we understood a little bit more about the RB8 in Valencia, and that has been an on-going process here,” declared Webber.

McLaren, winners of the season-opener in Australia with Button, are finding the Pirelli tyres hard to fathom.

Hamilton won in Germany last year and Button in Hungary and team principal Martin Whitmarsh was hopeful that upgrades would help the team get back into contention.

“Sometimes you learn more from these weekends than the successful ones,” he told reporters.

“I'm not seriously worried. worry doesn't make your car go quicker,” added Whitmarsh. “There's no magic, you've got to work on developing the car and understanding the conditions.

“It is very tricky to go from being so strong in the first stint on one set of prime (tyres)…and about 15 minutes later you put them on again and they feel different. they respond differently yet you set the same pressures and temperatures.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John Mehaffey)