In the parallel F1 world, away from FIA and FOTA, there have been a few interesting little developments lately.
Donington got its planning permission, thanks to the resolution of the legal row between Simon Gillett and the landowners Wheatcroft and Son. Also the company which is selling the debentures, ISG, an offshoot of IMG, broke cover and commented for the first time in ages about Donington. It’s now a year since Gillett said that he would be announcing plans for a ‘fan powered debenture scheme’ to pay for the developments.
In May this year he announced the plans. Debentures will be for three, five and 10 years, with prices between £1,200 and £4,000 a year, depending on level of access.
There are 40 days of entertainment in the package plus the Grand Prix, made up of other motorsport and music events and track days.
Gillett told the Express recently that the demand is there, “We’re only looking for 4,700 a year globally to buy into our idea. Our survey shows they are out there.”
And Andrew Hampel of ISG (an offshoot of IMG, which is in charge of the debenture scheme) said, “It is nonsense to say that the Donington Park figures and debenture scheme does not stack up. Through IMG and Bastion, ISG has vast experience and we are world leaders in the area of stadium and arena marketing.
“Without doubt, as paying customers, motorsport fans are ready for the same level of quality that fans of other leading sports have become accustomed to, and there is no reason that Donington Park cannot provide that.”
The Brawn team is running away with both championships and today I noticed that Alex Wurz, the former Honda test driver, has been talking to Auto Motor und Sport magazine about the car which Honda chose not to race. Now renamed Brawn, Wurz reckons that it is the “most expensive car with the lowest operating budget ever”, based on the assertion that it was developed in five windtunnels with three separate programmes running. I’ve heard rival teams mutter that this is the most expensive car ever made too, but thought that they were probably jealous! Meanwhile one of the designers, Jorg Zander, has left Brawn recently. Zander has moved around a fair bit in recent years between Toyota, BAR, Williams, BMW Sauber and Honda. He lasted a year at Williams, a year at BMW and two and a half years at Honda/Brawn.
Of the three new F1 teams who entered for 2010 thinking that there would be a £40 million budget cap, two say they are going ahead, while one says that it looks more difficult than it did before. USF1, which is backed by one of the You Tube founders, is the only one of the three which is building its own car, trying to be a genuine F1 team, just like the others. Manor is taking a car from Simtek, while Campos is taking a car from Dallara. Manor boss John Booth spoke recently about the uncertainty which still hangs over next year’s rules and I get the impression from other F1 teams that they think this project might struggle to get the funding, despite rumours of Virgin being interested in sponsoring them, which I can’t really see. Meanwhile Gianpaulo Dallara is quoted today as saying that they began work on the 2010 car three months ago and as for the collapse of the budget cap, “We are continuing as if nothing had happened,”
Like all of the F1 technical departments, Dallara gambled that the rules would be based on 2009, with no refuelling and he was proved right,
“We have worked on 2009 specification adding the extra fuel capacity required for 2010,” he said.
Campos is down to use the Cosworth engine, but as I posted here a couple of days ago, they will not be allowed to run at 20,000rpm, so it will be interesting to take a look at how they get that engine up to speed. Frank Williams, who used the engine in 2006, said recently that it was not even close to the package provided by the modern manufacturer engines, like the Toyota.
And speaking of engines, another little gem from Auto Motor und Sport says that Robert Kubica a contender for the season’s most miserable driver, has now chomped through five of his allocated eight engines for the year. He looks like making some unwanted history by being the first man to take a penalty for using a ninth engine. Apparently at Silverstone he lost two engines, one on Friday and then it’s replacement on Saturday. How he must look back on last season and his chance to fight for the title and wonder when that chance may come around again..