Posted on January 30, 2009


Just received an email from the FIA press department with some great research on how F1 history would have been rewritten if Bernie Ecclestone’s medals idea had been in place since the start of Formula 1 in 1950. The outcome of the world championship would have been different on 13 occasions. Bernie thinks that the winner of a Grand Prix should get a gold medal and that the winner of the world championship should be the driver who has the most gold medals in that year. This would have meant that Felipe Massa would have won the world title in More…

Posted on January 29, 2009


Yesterday I wrote about some things we will not be seeing on TV, today I’m posting on a couple of things which will be in the show, although I’m not sure about one of them. Radio conversations between team and driver have been available for a few years, but the team had a button it needed to press to make the channel open to the TV director. Renault were always very good and open about this, even though it used to irritate them that the director kept playing clips of them telling Fisi to push harder. Ferrari and McLaren were More…

Posted on January 28, 2009


As regulars here will know, I occasionally like to highlight a feedback comment and there’s one here from Rpaco, who clearly has worked in the car/racing industry at some point. His comment in response to my post yesterday about Charlie Whiting’s briefing really made me laugh. “Well I trust that the new BBC team will keep us informed of the engine number being used by each car. A spreadsheet will be needed to keep track of them all. Though I have a vision of the Lottery commentator, “the voice of the balls” giving the statistics on each number. ‘This engine More…

Posted on January 28, 2009


Two thousand five hundred years after the Romans got their kicks from Chariot racing, there is a plan to bring their modern counterparts back to race there. Plans are afoot for a second Grand Prix in Italy, on a street circuit in Rome. The man behind it is Maurizio Flammini, the founder of the World Superbike series. Flammini showed the plans to Bernie Ecclestone at the recent Ferrari event in Madonna di Campiglio and Ecclestone seemed interested, according to the Roman entrepreneur. “We reflected on how street races offer an opportunity to grow F1, as happened last year in Valencia More…

Posted on January 27, 2009


FIA race director Charlie Whiting today issued a question and answer briefing to F1 journalists with a couple of clarifications of new rules for 2009. One concerns the eight engines the drivers may use during a season and when penalties may apply and the other regards the safety car. The engine rule is the one I wrote about here a few weeks ago after the Ferrari launch. Here’s what Charlie had to say on the subject: “It’s eight engines for the whole year. A driver will only incur a penalty if he uses a ninth engine. So the teams can More…

Posted on January 27, 2009


There have been some worried noises coming out of Renault staff in recent weeks and delving around it’s not hard to see why. The staff have had to take a pay cut, they have acknowledged that there will be a round of redundancies and the title sponsor, Dutch banking and insurance group ING is laying off 7,000 people. Although the sponsorship has been brilliantly effective for ING and has been exploited very well by its marketing team, it is hard to see how that deal can be renewed when it expires at the end of this season. That could leave More…

Posted on January 26, 2009


Nick Heidfeld, ever the pragmatist, is quoted today saying that if drivers are to be asked to take a pay cut, so be it, ” We have to adjust ourselves just like everyone else.” Actually Nick is pretty good value at approximately £2.8 million per season. It’s the £30 odd million Raikkonen gets or the £20 million Alonso scoops up, which give the eye catching numbers. The average, according to Formula Money, is £5.5 million. So what are the drivers worth in the current economic climate? I wrote a post here on Friday about the cost of superlicences and the More…

Posted on January 23, 2009


It’s been a quiet day today, BMW are still hammering around in Valencia, but the teams who were all in Portugal are back at base shaking their heads over what a waste of time it was. There was basically only a brief window of a few hours without rain on one day to get any meaningful running done and Toyota had a technical problem at that time anyway, so missed it. Anyway, the most interesting story I’ve seen today is one on Autosport.com about the drivers getting shirty over a further rise in the cost of their superlicences. Last season More…

Posted on January 22, 2009


It’s only week one of the 2009 season, but already BMW has its nose in front. By choosing to go to Valencia this week, the expected challengers for the world title have managed to get some serious dry running in, 99 laps yesterday and 116 laps today. Ferrari got over 100 laps in today on slicks after covering a similar distance yesterday in the wet, while the teams who went for the new Algarve Portimao circuit have struggled to do much all week and have been watching the rain drilling off the tarmac. Today was a total wash out for More…

Posted on January 22, 2009


How can our sport identify and nurture the best driving talents and bring them to F1? What is the best way to evaluate a young driver? One of the eye catching lines Bernie Ecclestone came out with recently in an interview with my Financial Times colleague Christian Sylt was a dismissal of the revived Formula 2 series as merely something Max Mosley came up with when he was going through “a problem with his private life “ last summer. It was “all done for the wrong reasons,” he said. While it is true that F2 was announced in the midst More…

Posted on January 21, 2009


I was interested to see that at a press conference at Portimao circuit yesterday, attended by colleagues from the ITV F1 website, Toyota’s John Howett sounded a stark warning about Toyota’s future in the sport if they do not succeed this season. He said, ” We have a great team of people and I think we just feel it’s about time we won. We need a strong season. If we have a weak season we have no future. “Whether we have to win is difficult to say, but I think we feel we have to win.” This is slightly at More…

Posted on January 21, 2009


Perhaps the most eagerly awaited launch this January was the BMW Sauber team’s new car. This is because the team has been making a steady march towards the front of the grid in the last three seasons and now it needs to make the last and most difficult step of all, to champion status. A few teams have come along in the last twenty years or so and threatened the McLaren/Williams/Ferrari elite, including Jordan, which won a few races. But really only Benetton/Renault has been able to elbow the big boys aside and make a permanent space for itself at More…

Posted on January 20, 2009


It’s been a busy couple of days in the F1 world, with three car launches and some more rhetoric in the escalating war of words between Bernie Ecclestone and the F1 teams association, FOTA. Let’s start with Renault. Fernando Alonso says he can win the championship with this car, he’s ecstatic about the wind tunnel figures, which say that the car should be very fast once they get it running against the opposition on a dry track. Alonso is once again in the strange position of starting a season at Renault, with a contract in his pocket to drive for More…

Posted on January 17, 2009


Luca di Montezemolo turned up in Madonna di Campiglio yesterday for the end of the Ferrari shindig and had a good long session with Bernie Ecclestone, whom he embraced warmly. The pair have known each other since the 1970s and they will lock antlers many times in the next year or two as Montezemolo seeks to lead the FOTA teams to the promised land of more control and more money. Afterwards he sat down with the Italian media and I’m grateful to them for details of what he said. The thing which caught my eye was his reminder that the More…

Posted on January 17, 2009


The Ron Dennis story has dominated coverage of the McLaren launch, which is probably just as well because Lewis Hamilton wasn’t on great form, suffering with a heavy cold. He looked pretty proud to see the number one on the car, however, the first time for McLaren in a decade. Nevertheless, we had a good chance over the course of a long day in Woking, to go behind the scenes and find out more about this new car and about how it will be raced this year. The first thing that struck me was how much more there is for More…

Posted on January 16, 2009


Today’s McLaren launch was a quietly confident affair. The team looked composed and calm ahead of what is likely to be a hard fought and chaotic season, with complex new rules and an intense development programme away from the circuit. And then just as the thing was winding to a close, Ron Dennis, the sport’s most successful entrant, goes and lets slip that he’s standing down as team principal at the end of February. It’s no great surprise in one sense; he is 61 years old and has been discussing stepping down for some time. He was under pressure from More…

Posted on January 15, 2009


A brief note to add to the comments Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali made about the new rules for penalties handed out for changing an engine during a Grand Prix weekend. The rule now is that each driver has eight engines he can use during a season, but it’s up to him when he uses them. This means, certainly until the closing stages of the season, that if a driver sees a potential problem after qualifying and needs to change engine, he will be able to do so in parc ferme without taking a ten place penalty. The ten place More…

Posted on January 15, 2009


Amid promises of a first win being around the corner and a commitment to stay in F1 for the long term, Toyota virtually launched their new car today in an online ceremony, which saved them a lot of money. It’s important at the moment in F1 to show that you are cutting costs wherever possible. I’m hearing that job cutting programmes are starting to bite now, many posts have been shed in catering departments, while one UK based manufacturer team has imposed a 20% pay cut on management and 10% on the workforce. There will be some big job losses More…

Posted on January 14, 2009


It’s great that F1 and its fans can once again focus on cars and racing, rather than chew through a diet of bad news about F1′s economic crisis. The crisis hasn’t gone away of course, but we are now in the season of hope; new cars, new dreams and new expectations. The Ferrari media-fest continues, now the protagonists have moved up to the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort for the annual press event known as “Wrooom!” Over the next couple of days Massa and Raikkonen will elaborate on the brief comments they made at Monday’s launch, but today was the More…

Posted on January 13, 2009


The Ferrari team got down to business today, ironing out some glitches in the new car. I’m told that a part fell off the car on its first exploratory lap yesterday. But the KERS system worked and in the end the car did 100kms, which is less than they had hoped for, but pretty good nevertheless from a complex new car. Ferrari’s idea in bringing the car out so early is to have plenty of time for debugging. Reliability was not perfect last season and they are painfully aware that there is only a limited amount of testing before the More…

Posted on January 12, 2009


Full marks to Ferrari for getting their 2009 car out first, especially as they were fighting for the world championship until the final round last season. So dramatic are the rule changes this year – the biggest for a generation – everything is new with these cars and it’s hard to make many judgments based on what we see at the launch. Technical boss Aldo Costa says that it is a completely new car, a clean sheet of paper, but I’m sure much of the DNA which has run through the ultra successful generation of Ferrari cars since 1999 is More…

Posted on January 11, 2009


It’s been an interesting week for news, with the Buemi announcement, Donington getting its planning permission, FOTA making further cost savings and more on the Honda buyout. Here is my take on the week’s news digest. Donington was granted planning permission to gear up for hosting the Grand Prix is 2010. This was the stage at which the Brands Hatch bid failed a few years back, so Simon Gillett and his team have done well to overcome that hurdle but many are still sceptical about the viability of this project. Ron Dennis voiced his concerns this week saying that the More…

Posted on January 4, 2009


This is a big week for Donington and its bid to host the British Grand Prix from 2010 onwards. On Thursday Simon Gillett and his team will learn whether the planning application they have submitted to develop the track has been approved by the local council. It was at the planning stage a few years back, if you recall, that the Brands Hatch bid to host the Grand Prix fell apart and they had to go, cap in hand, back to Silverstone. Gillett is confident that the same fate will not befall him. He was at the F1 Business Forum More…



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