Posted on July 24, 2009
Behind the scenes in Budapest | James Allen on F1 – The official James Allen website on F1

It was a hot and dusty day at the Hungaroring. We’d forgotten what it felt like to be hot at a race track. Today was forecast to be the warmest of the three days, but it’s not going to be chilly at any stage, I don’t think.

There is a fresh feeling around the paddock, the political stuff goes on, but it is behind the scenes now and doesn’t seem to be taking up the bandwidth it was in June.

Rubens Barrichello, who was in a bad mood last time we saw him in Germany, as he thought he had been turned over once again by his team, arrived wearing a Mr Happy T shirt, which made people smile. Rubens had a chat last week with team boss Ross Brawn, but there was no telling off. They’ve moved on. My old mate Ted Kravitz put a real googly of a question to Jenson Button this afternoon at his media briefing, asking if he had been informed by Brawn that he would be their chosen candidate for the championship. Button batted it away confidently, saying that he had not and that he couldn’t really imagine Rubens accepting a situation like that.

Algu 2

Outside the gigantic Red Bull/Toro Rosso timeshare motorhome, new boy Jaime Alguersuari handled himself confidently after his first 82 laps at a Grand Prix weekend. I was interested to hear him say that he was only here because Red Bull sent him a message telling him to turn up and that he didn’t car what he was driving. He’s very composed, but my Spanish colleagues were a little disappointed with his performance in the second session. He’s not putting any pressure on himself for qualifying. I don’t think he’ll mind being slowest tomorrow, he’s more focussed on getting 70 racing laps under his belt on Sunday.

Do you remember that 1990′s song by Divine Comedy which went, “Take the National Express, when your life’s in a mess…” ?

Well it seems that CVC have taken their advice. Fed up with the wrangling with FOTA and the FIA, the money men behind F1 have launched a bid to take over the UK coach and rail company…from the world’ fastest vehicles to some real trundlers.

Actually, as things are turning out, it seems that their $2 billion investment in F1 is pretty safe. The Concorde Agreement has been drawn up and sent out to the members of the FIA World Motor Sport Council prior to signature. All that is holding it up now is the cost reduction agreement between the teams.

Williams, Force India and new team Manor are holding things up a little there and Williams in particular, it seems. They are holding out for some changes to voting majorities and other things. As for the numbers, I’m hearing around £80 million in 2010 and £40 million in 2011. Of course the deal only runs to 2012, so they’ll all be back arguing about share of revenues again in about 18 months time!

Over at Ferrari there are quite a few new parts on the cars and some further changes in the management with aerodynamicist John Iley leaving the team. It has been reported in some places that he was fired but Italian colleagues tell me that in fact the team simply did not renew his contract.

The reason was that there was dissatisfaction with his results. Meanwhile Luca Baldisserri, who was moved off the race team following some strategy and operational mistakes at the start of the season, is still with Ferrari, but has apparently been distanced from the F1 team in recent weeks.

Team principal Stefano Domenicali said today in the press conference that the team is testing some parts for 2010, as there is carry over, particularly on the areodynamics side. My understanding of the plan there is that they will test new parts until the end of the European season. They want to finish third in he championship, and the development they do after Monza will depend on how they are placed at that time.

On the driver market rumour front, Robert Kubica’s name has been linked with Renault, while Fernando Alonso has been sounding out Brawn. Remember that he had extensive talks with Brawn and with Nick Fry about moving to the team this time last season when it was Honda. They made a real play for him and how he must be regretting his decision to stay at Renault.. but he would be looking for a one year deal and the money might be a bit of a problem.

Half of the UK contingent here in Budapest have been without mobile phones today as O2 had a problem which mean no coverage. This affected a lot of the BBC people and Brawn too.

Meanwhile I took this picture in the paddock this afternoon of a Ferrari guest who was standing by the motor home and found herself being photographed. So she started striking a few poses and suddenly there was a mass of photographers there. It was hilarious and very F1.

Pose2

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Behind the scenes in Budapest
20 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Michael
        Date: July 24th, 2009 @ 6:46 pm 

    You write of a new Concorde agreement, “All that is holding it up now is the cost reduction agreement between the teams.”
    Isn’t that what’s been holding it up all along?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    No, what was holding it up was the cost reduction plan of the FIA, (budget cap) which many of the teams didn’t want. This is different. It’s up to the teams to agree how they control costs between themselves; a very tricky thing. It involves complicated issues of policing, independent auditing and agreeing to fines for breaking the rules. Of course some teams will bend the rules, but they feel they can agree something which will work. Williams were for the budget cap, remember.

    [Reply]


  2.   2. Posted By: Hannah
        Date: July 24th, 2009 @ 7:12 pm 

    So if Alonso’s talking to Brawn does that mean that he doesn’t actually have a contract with Ferrari for 2010?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I think it’s 2011, unless they can get him in there for 2010. The option for 2010 was on Raikkonen’s side and he triggered it. They would have ot buy him out and that would be €20 million+. To pay that and pay Alonso a similar amount is hard to imagine. That seems to be where the situation is at present.

    [Reply]

    juujaa Reply:

    “The option for 2010 was on Raikkonen’s side and he triggered it.”

    And how do you prove that?

    If it was one-sided, I have to ask a question: why would Ferrari not re-sign their only World Champion?

    And why have they not provided him with a car he likes? They are wasting a tremendous amount of talent by continuously giving him a car which understeers, which is the opposite to what Kimi wants in order to show his speed.

    In 2008 when he got his tyres working well in the race, he was the fastest of all. There was no match to his speed when he had the front of the car working like he wants it.

    It sounds to me like Ferrari has not been very smart regarding what they have provided for Kimi. Even in his Championship year he was struggling with the car at times because it had an understeering tendency and couldn’t heat up the (front) tyres.

    It’s like they are putting all their eggs in Felipe’s basket (he likes an understeering car and is clearly in trouble without it) and I’m just saying, he isn’t as tough a F1 driver as Kimi. Perhaps the departure of Jean Todt has made Ferrari go back to their emotional style and to making irrational decisions more often than not.

    [Reply]

    Andy Reply:

    I have to agree with juujaa here. I just don’t understand these rumors. It has been seen time and time again that Kimi at his worst matches Massa at his best, it wouldn’t make any sense for Ferrari to get rid of him. Give Kimi a car to his liking and he will outrace anyone out there. Of course, given the lack of judgement Ferrari has shown this year, nothing can really surprise anymore.

    The only reason I can see for them to want to get rid of Kimi is that he was first and foremost Jean Todt’s pick to join Ferrari, and perhaps others in the team have a hard time getting along with someone who doesn’t share their overly manifest passion, but tends to keep things more to himself. However, I doubt this (as I do all of this “Ferrari wants to get rid of Kimi” stuff), all I’ve heard seems to suggest that people there like Kimi.


  3.   3. Posted By: Jake
        Date: July 24th, 2009 @ 8:00 pm 

    Come on James. You must have a bigger pic you can show us ;)

    [Reply]

    Paparazzi Reply:

    Check this link
    http://premium.f1-live.com/f1/photos-hires/2009/gphungaroring/diapo_423.jpg

    [Reply]

    Sygul Reply:

    Why not show the whole lot ?

    http://premium.f1-live.com/f1/photos-hires/2009/gphungaroring/

    diapo_425.jpg is a better shot.

    [Reply]


  4.   4. Posted By: Raj
        Date: July 24th, 2009 @ 9:40 pm 

    Its really nice know and read about the part side of paddock we usually do not get to know. I am really interested know about the performance of R29. The pace it had shown in latter stage of Ring was brilliant. But was it a flash in the pan? I am sure James would be able to throw more light to it.

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: Peter
        Date: July 24th, 2009 @ 11:55 pm 

    Alonso heading to Brawn is an interesting twist on the Alonso-Ferrari story and can stir up the driver market quite lot. However I1d love to see Alonso and Kimi together with Ferrari at least fo one year and as I remember Luca Di Montemezolo had had such a plan earlier. Regarding Alguersuari, I still think that the driver who has joined F1 with the less single seater experience ever is still Kimi and if I may I’d like to insert a link with his first practice session that shows his raw talent. Enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icawovR-T1Q

    [Reply]


  6.   6. Posted By: barry la tour
        Date: July 25th, 2009 @ 2:40 am 

    James , I have to agree with Jake.
    I also think you need a better camera and or a longer lens.
    I’m happy for Jaime, as he had his hands full today and appaently did well.
    Although I hugely admire Frank Williams and Williams Fi as well, sometimes I think he is rather the fly in the ointment.
    I was dissappointed in both of Rubens’ outbursts this season and wish he’d take a step back and look at his position. He’s a great driver and I think he’s capable of winning a World Championship, but he’s also the member of a TEAM, an as such should keep out bursts like these for meetings with Mr. Brawn, and not allow himself to fly off the handle in public. Dirty laundry is not my cup of tea.
    I’m not to interested in the minutia of F1 so much as the broad strokes, unless it has to do with the technology on the overall running of the sport(?). What the drivers have to say is a great way to go to sleep when you’re having difficulty.
    It’s usually an excuse, and excuses are just a cop out for not getting the job done. Most of these drivers are in a situation that equates them with the very wealthiest people on the planet, and their excuses are always the same given a narrow spread as to whether they did poorly or well that particular day.
    So what most interests me during these times of unrest are who is fast, how much fuel they had on board, and what the hell is going on with CVC and FOTA in regard to whether CVC has been willing to back down on their scandalous fees for hosting a race. I’m also quite interested in what fan benefits are actually coming out of this mess and whether racing will come back to North America in a way commensurate to it’s market importance to Formula 1 sponsors and team backers in the auto manufacturing business. You might not like us over here, but there have been times when you were happy to have us give you a hand, and I’d like to see some consideration and reciprocity. Bernie should visit Normandy
    Barry

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: Hammad
        Date: July 25th, 2009 @ 4:54 am 

    Would have liked to see Alonso at Ferrari next year :(

    [Reply]

    Red Andy Reply:

    Maybe Ferrari will get Alonso after all? http://runoffarea.co.uk/2009/07/25/two-seater-ferrari-sparks-rules-debate/

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Vince
        Date: July 25th, 2009 @ 7:10 am 

    Hi James,

    Are you sure Kimi triggered his option for 2010? I thought he did it last year, and the option was to renew for 2 years – till 2011 – so nothing has changed really. I’m beginning to think all these Alonso to Ferrari rumours are untrue. I mean, so far ALL parties have denied it.

    Shame, because Alonso does belong to a top team and for the life of me I could not understand why Ferrari wouldn’t pay out at least one of their drivers to accommodate him.

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: jw1980
        Date: July 25th, 2009 @ 8:24 am 

    James,

    great article. Kubica has really fallen on bad times if he is having to consider Renault for next year.
    Amongst all the talk of driver changes, Concorde agreements, etc has there been any leaks about next year’s calendar?
    It seems incredible that we do not know any dates yet. You may be interested to know that the London Olympics start three years on Monday. As a minimum we should know a year in advance when a GP will be held. Attending a GP does require some forward planning….

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: PaulL
        Date: July 25th, 2009 @ 9:27 am 

    James, they are talking about restricting the number of updates available for the front and rear wings during the season.

    One of my favourite parts of an F1 season is the development race and having anticipation as to who has improved. I really hope these cost cutting measures don’t slow it down to the point that there is a static pecking order because I think F1 would tend towards being boring.

    Have you heard anything of what is in the offing?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Yes FOTA were talking about restricting the updates to 2 or 3 per season last time I heard

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: lee in Farnborough
        Date: July 25th, 2009 @ 2:54 pm 

    i dont think massa will race tommorow but will they race 1 car or can they put a reserve driver in as replacement

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: Harveyeight
        Date: July 25th, 2009 @ 6:55 pm 

    With at one time 4/10ths of a second splitting a dozen cars in Q2, the fact that the same spec cars will be in next year’s F1 is a real boost. And 2011 and 12 unless Todt throws a Mosley.

    It seems incredible that one of the most exciting and confusing seasons for a long time is overshadowed by politics. Alonso might well be light on fuel, LH would appear to be heavier and Button, with his period in the pits, 3 laps or perhaps more over his planned stint.

    We’ve got KR’s and LH’s KERS to stun those on the start line, a Webber, well known for his tunnel vision into the first corner, and a FA who must put time between himself and second place. I assume he’ll be on the second choice tyres.

    It’s going to be a fun first few laps. Shame it’s Hungry.

    Just the thought of Massa’s condition to take the edge off the fun.

    [Reply]

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