Posted on November 30, 2009


This has been the season of the “win-win” – deals which leave both sides feeling really good about themselves. There is a lot of restructuring going on at the moment; the inevitable result of a season which has seen savage recession hit the sport, manufacturer withdrawals and the arrival of new teams. We have had a spate of deals the principals have described as “win-win” lately; first Ron Dennis described the deal whereby Mercedes bought Brawn as a “win-win”, then Toto Wolff used the same term to describe his acquisition of a shareholding in Williams and at the weekend the More…

Posted on November 30, 2009


The FIA has this evening published the entry list for next season’s F1 championship. There are some interesting points of note. First, as expected, Richard Branson’s Virgin is “doing a Benetton” and pushing its brand to the forefront, calling the team Virgin Racing and the cars Virgin Cosworths. Manor is not entering F1 under its own name. The model here was set out by Benetton in the 1980s and 1990s, whereby it got the maximum brand exposure while getting the sponsors to pay the bills. Virgin Racing has yet to announce its commercial package for F1, but one would expect More…

Posted on November 29, 2009


Flavio Briatore was not present in court this week in Paris to hear the case from his lawyer as to why his lifetime ban from F1 should be overturned. The former Renault F1 team boss is also seeking damages of €1 million and his former executive director of engineering Pat Symonds is seeking €500,000 and a reversal of his five year ban over the Singapore race fixing case. So will they get their way? Briatore’s case was heard by the Tribunal de Grand Instance. His lawyer argued that the FIA World Motor Sport Council was both the investigating and judging More…

Posted on November 27, 2009


My review of the 2009 F1 season, entitled “F1 2009 – A Revolutionary Year” went on sale today. The book tells the story of the 2009 season, from the McLaren launch in January to the last race in Abu Dhabi. I called it “A Revolutionary Year” because this was a year in which the backmarkers of 2008 won the championship and the champion teams of recent times lost their dominance. Off track it was the year when the teams revolted against the governing body and almost started a breakaway series. It covers all 17 Grands Prix and tells the behind More…

Posted on November 27, 2009


Peter Sauber has bought back his team from BMW and it will race next season as Sauber with Ferrari engines. The deal under which Qadbak, the mysterious Swiss Arab investment vehicle was to acquire the team, is off. The contract is subject to the team being granted a place on the F1 grid, but as Toyota has withdrawn and Sauber has an unblemished record in F1 and the support of the other teams, particularly Ferrari, the team is hoping that the F1 commission and the World Council should give them the nod at a series of meetings in early December More…

Posted on November 26, 2009


There is a great piece of work on Auto Motor und Sport’s website with an analysis of the engines in this year’s world championship. The analysis is based on collating the information each engine builder has about each other. I’ve checked it out with some of the F1 engineers and it seems that the data is a pretty accurate reflection of the numbers they are working with. The result is that Mercedes comes out top, with Toyota at the bottom. Throughout the year one kept hearing stories about how much the Renault in the back of the Red Bull car More…

Posted on November 25, 2009


The rumours around the possible return of Michael Schumacher to Formula 1 with Mercedes continue to swirl, but Ferrari remain calm and expect the seven times world champion to stay with them for the next three years as a consultant. The latest twist is that Schumacher has not yet physically signed his new three year consultancy agreement with Ferrari. Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber said on Tuesday in Germany that he could not say whether the deal had been signed, even though it was all agreed and this is my understanding from the Ferrari side too. However, what many commentators are More…

Posted on November 24, 2009


Thank you very much to the 1,100 readers who took part in the Top Five drivers of the year competition. I’m delighted that we got more than 1,000 entries! There were plenty of interesting entries, Luca Badoer popped up a couple of times, while several Kimi Raikkonen fans put their man in all five positions! I put a lot of time and research into my selection, going back through my race weekend data, looking at fuel corrected figures for qualifying and so on. I’ve also sounded out some of the F1 engineers for their data analysis of the drivers’ performances More…

Posted on November 23, 2009


I’ve been thinking about Williams selling a minority shareholding in the team to Austrian motorsport investor Toto Wolff. The deal was announced at the end of last week. It is yet another example, in this early part of the off season, of a structural change in the fabric of F1 teams. We have had Mercedes ending its arrangement with McLaren and buying 75% of Brawn and McLaren setting itself up as a “British Ferrari”. Williams was set up very much like Brawn; an independent team with a private shareholder structure. Teams of this size are very well placed for the More…

Posted on November 23, 2009


Nico Rosberg will lead Mercedes’ attack on F1 next season. The 24 year old is a great choice for the iconic Mercedes brand as he is their own three pointed star; he’s fast, he’s marketable and he’s hungry. The 24 year old German driver was announced today during a conference call n with Mercedes Benz motorsport vice president Norbert Haug and Mercedes F1 CEO Nick Fry. He is the first driver to be announced by Mercedes since it took over the Brawn GP team and the first German to drive for them since Karl Kling piloted one of the Silver More…

Posted on November 23, 2009


Mercedes are on the conference call trail again this morning. This time it is to announce what Mercedes describes as the “first new driver” for its team, which is expected to be Nico Rosberg, as he has been signed to the team for some time. Rosberg will be in the conference call as will Norbert Haug, the vice president of Mercedes Benz motorsport and Nick Fry, who is now billed as the CEO of the Mercedes F1 team. Haug continues to maintain that the Mercedes driver line up will ‘surprise’ and will be appealing. Over the weekend Ross Brawn told More…

Posted on November 21, 2009


The JA on F1 reader competition to name your top five drivers of the season has been a big success so far and we have had 870 entries in the last few days. The competition runs until next week and the winners will be announced on Tuesday 24th. For those who missed it first time around – anyone who names the same top five drivers of the season, in the same order as me will get a free signed copy of my review of the 2009 season, ” F1 2009: A revolutionary year”. There’s a limited print run of these More…

Posted on November 20, 2009


Today has seen a groundswell of stories about Michael Schumacher talking to Mercedes about making a return to F1 next season. I’ve had dozens of readers asking whether this is the case or not, meanwhile Eddie Jordan has stuck his neck out and said on the BBC website that the deal is on and Schumacher will be racing in silver next season. The Telegraph’s Kevin Garside, who no longer covers F1 on a regular basis, has gone overboard on the story today too, albeit with no quotes or attributions. The authoritative end of the German media is strangely silent on More…

Posted on November 19, 2009


It’s amazing how little time there ever is in F1 to enjoy the moment, to celebrate something special, before something comes along and makes it all turn nasty. The bitterness is starting to come out now in the aftermath of Jenson Button’s shock move to McLaren on a three year contract. According to Ross Brawn, who has actually been trying to have a holiday this week while all of this has been going on, Button breached the terms of his contract when he visited the McLaren factory last Friday mid-way through the negotiations over a new deal. At the time More…

Posted on November 19, 2009


In a couple of weeks from now I will be in Monaco, for the annual Motor Sports Business Forum. Last year I was a speaker, this year I’m going one better and I’m chairing the conference. It’s a busy week for international motorsport and there are many events going on; the World Motor Sport Council meets on Friday morning for the first time with Jean Todt as president. There is a circuit holders’ meetings and other meetings, all culminating in the FIA Presentation Gala on Friday night, at which Jenson Button will collect his World Champion’s trophy and Ross Brawn More…

Posted on November 19, 2009


Kimi Raikkonen has a blank space in his diary – it’s called 2010. He has not totally ruled out F1, as his manager Steve Robertson left the door open this morning in an interview with Autosport’s Jon Noble over in Macau, that he could re-examine the possibility of racing with the new Mercedes team, if they were interested in having him. “This is Formula 1,” said Robertson. “If they can offer, or convince us, that they can provide Kimi an opportunity that Kimi is happy with, and that we are happy with, and he feels he can win races and More…

Posted on November 18, 2009


Jenson Button has done what he threatened to do; quit the team he won the championship with and launched a new adventure with McLaren. Button has a three year contract to race alongside Lewis Hamilton in an all British “World Champions” superteam. Everyone at the Brawn team in Brackley will be disappointed by this and there will be lots of question marks about loyalty and “feeling valued” swimming around on both sides. But at the end of the day Button has gone because Brawn and Mercedes were prepared to let him – and that says quite a lot. The timing More…

Posted on November 18, 2009


Kimi Raikkonen will not be racing in F1 next season, his manager Steve Robertson has confirmed. He is calling it a year off and time will tell if he ever races an F1 car again. “The options in F1 were with McLaren next season or not at all,” Robertson said, “Kimi and McLaren were unable to reach an agreement, so he will not drive at the F1 level – at least not next year. “A gap year means nothing for Kimi. He is more interested in fighting for wins and the world championship. F1 will miss Kimi. He worked hard More…

Posted on November 17, 2009


With all the talk of how well Jenson Button might match up to Lewis Hamilton in equal cars and whether Kimi Raikkonen is too talented to drop out of F1, I thought this would be a good moment to invite you to vote for your top five drivers of 2009. Choose the five drivers who you think did the best job in 2009. Do Vettel’s mistakes put him below Button? Did Alonso punch above his weight in a poor car? Does Raikkonen’s second half of the season make up for the first? How do you rate Webber’s and Barrichello’s performances? More…

Posted on November 17, 2009


Manor GP has pulled off a great coup by signing up Timo Glock, as we foreshadowed here last week. He becomes the second driver to be named by one of the four new teams. Lotus has signed a driver but has yet to announce his identity or whether he is a race or reserve driver. Glock has had some impressive drives in the last couple of seasons, with podium finishes in Bahrain and Singapore this year and at Hungary last year. He ended the season on a bit of downbeat note with injuries and illnesses and a monstrous accident at More…

Posted on November 17, 2009


There are a number of drivers in play in the current unfolding situation between McLaren and Brawn. There are three seats as yet unconfirmed and four drivers to fill them. Attention for the moment is focussed on Jenson Button, with some commentators predicting that he will imminently sign a three year £6 million contract with McLaren, leaving the team he has been with in various guises for seven years. Nico Rosberg is involved, but his position is clear; he has already signed a contract with Brawn, which was taken over yesterday by Mercedes and will become its works team next More…

Posted on November 16, 2009


Tomorrow’s papers in the UK will be full of stories about how Mercedes’ takeover of Brawn means that the team will have an all German driver line-up, while Jenson Button is being pushed towards an all-English line up of Button and Lewis Hamilton. Indeed the Guardian is reporting this evening that Button is on the point of signing a £6m a year contract for three years. As the piece is written by Alan Henry, who knows what colour the toilet paper is in Woking from one day to the next, this news needs to be taken seriously. So is that More…

Posted on November 16, 2009


The legendary Silver Arrows works Mercedes Benz F1 team will return to Formula 1 racing next year for the first time in 55 years. Mercedes Benz is buying 75.1% of the Brawn team. Mercedes CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche and Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug announced this morning that the team will be rebranded as the Mercedes team from next season onwards and the colour scheme will change to the Silver Arrows livery. The move allows Mercedes to have its own brand to the fore, rather than subservient to the McLaren brand, for a fraction of the cost of what they More…

Posted on November 16, 2009


I’ve just been invited to take part in a conference call later this morning with Dr Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Daimler which owns Mercedes Benz and Norbert Haug the head of Mercedes Benz motor sport. The subject of the call is to discuss the future of Mercedes’ engagement in Formula 1. Discussions have been ongoing for Mercedes to buy a controlling interest in Brawn GP and to leave McLaren at the end of the existing contract at the end of 2011. McLaren has been seeking to extend its engine supply arrangement to the end of 2012, the final year More…

Posted on November 15, 2009


Fernando Alonso today took his first bow as a Ferrari driver, appearing at the Ferrari finals day in Valencia. A crowd in excess of 17,000 turned up at the Riccardo Tormo circuit to see Alonso and his 2010 team mate Felipe Massa and to watch the final rounds of some of the key Ferrari championships featuring 129 drivers from around the world. When it was announced earlier in the year that this important day in the Ferrari calendar would take place in Spain, it was yet more proof that a deal to take Alonso to Ferrari was in the pipeline, More…

Posted on November 14, 2009


The latest turn of the wheel in the saga over where Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen will race next year is that Button and his manager, Richard Goddard visited McLaren’s Woking HQ yesterday. In itself that is no great surprise, it sends out a message to Brawn that Button has options and McLaren are known to be good payers. For McLaren it sends out a signal to Raikkonen, whose manager also toured McLaren this week, to act now if he wants to stay in F1 in a competitive car and to be more realistic about his salary demands. But what More…

Posted on November 13, 2009


Further to my post yesterday about the new teams, it appears that Timo Glock might have got cold feet about a move to Renault and is considering a drive with the new Manor team. During the Abu Dhabi weekend the German media was reporting that Glock had signed for Renault, but with no announcement forthcoming and uncertainty still clouding Renault’s long term plans in F1 after their board meeting last week, Glock’s manager, Hans-Bernard Kamps has said that Manor is a real possibility. The other driver in the frame is Lucas di Grassi. Glock has had a rollercoaster career. He More…

Posted on November 12, 2009


As the old season fades from view attention is now on the new teams. Campos Meta team yesterday unveiled Bruno Senna at a ceremony in its native Murcia region of Spain. He is the first driver to be officially confirmed by one of the four new teams entering F1 next season. Campos is backed by the Murcia region, but is dependent on sponsorship from drivers to secure its place on the grid. Senna has some money from Embratel, but according to Adrian Campos, it is looking less likely that Pedro de la Rosa will get a seat as Spanish sponsors More…

Posted on November 11, 2009


Shell, in its capacity as a partner of Ferrari stretching back some 450 races, has issued an interesting Q & A with Michael Schumacher in which he talks about comebacks and says that if he had his time again he would do a few things differently; not least avoiding the collision with Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez 1997 which severely damaged his reputation. This week Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has reiterated his desire to see Schumacher race a Ferrari again, should all the new teams, so derided by Ferrari, fail to make it onto the grid and teams be required More…

Posted on November 10, 2009


The World Champion’s number one plate could once again appear on a Silver Arrow next season. Reports in Germany suggest that a deal is being discussed whereby the Brawn GP name could disappear after just one all conquering season in Formula 1 and the champions would be rebranded as Mercedes from next season onwards. According to Auto Motor und Sport, the deal for Mercedes to acquire 75% of Brawn, via its main shareholder Aabar, is in the closings stages and now it is a question of negotiation with McLaren as to whether Mercedes is able to rebrand the team starting More…

Posted on November 9, 2009


If, like me, you are suffering withdrawal symptoms from the sound of racing engines and rather disconsolate about the thought that you won’t hear them again for over three months, then take a look at this. Anyone who saw the BBC’s coverage of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix might well have seen this item, my old sparring partner Martin Brundle and David Coulthard racing each other in two seater F1 cars. It was shot a few weeks before the event and one of the BBC producers, Richard Gort, knocked it into shape. He’s done a great job and it’s an More…

Posted on November 8, 2009


The era of manufacturers dominating F1 is over, according to Williams chief executive Adam Parr. Following a week in which Toyota announced its withdrawal and Renault held an emergency board meeting to discuss its ongoing participation, Parr said that the tide is turning away from the manufacturer teams towards independents like Williams and Brawn. In an article I co-wrote in this weekend’s Financial Times, Parr said, “This week marked the end of manufacturer dominance in F1, something that had been growing for a decade, ” It’s not that manufacturers are not welcome in F1, it’s just that the maths don’t More…

Posted on November 6, 2009


Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari adventure is underway. The two time world champion has begun the programme of seat fitting and preliminary work with the Scuderia. Alonso has been quite vague recently when asked about when he would be free to join his new team. I asked him about it on the Friday of the Abu Dhabi weekend and he said he did not know. He has some links with Renault sponsors and negotiations are ongoing to put an end date to engagements. Ferrari’s official website confirms that the Spaniard arrived at Maranello around 8am, met with team principal Stefano Domenicali, saw More…

Posted on November 5, 2009


So what happens next in this dramatic final act of the 2009 season? As Toyota F1′s tearful president Tadashi Yamashina made his sorry way off the podium after announcing the company’s withdrawal from F1, it seemed that Formula 1 was in trouble again. Renault’s board meeting to discuss it’s F1 involvement added to the tension, Bridgestone’s decision to end its involvement was still ringing in the ears. So is F1 in a crisis, or are these the inevitable aftershocks of a credit crunch? F1 is always the last into a recession and the last out of it. The noises I More…

Posted on November 4, 2009


The double whammy of Bridgestone and Toyota’s withdrawal from F1 is sending shivers down the spine of F1. Today Renault held a scheduled meeting to discuss its future participation in F1. It appears that there will be no communication about the outcome of that meeting until later in the week. French colleagues tell me that they do not expect Renault to pull out, but there is a panicky feeling in the air, as there was after Honda withdrew last Christmas. The BBC is reporting that acting team principal Bob Bell and managing director Jean Francois Caubet attended the meeting but More…

Posted on November 4, 2009


It has been a tough week for Japanese involvement in F1. Following on from Bridgestone’s announcement that they will withdraw at the end of 2010, Toyota have confirmed the news that many people have been expecting throughout the season; they are pulling out of F1 with immediate effect. This opens up a place on the Formula 1 grid for the Sauber team, which BMW sold to Qadbak. As things stand there will be 13 teams next season, only three of whom are manufacturer backed. F1 has lost half its manufacturers within the last 12 months. The balance within F1 will More…

Posted on November 3, 2009


Michael Schumacher has admitted that his decision to announce that he would try to make a Formula 1 comeback this summer was ‘emotional, not rational’. It was driven by a desire to do the right thing for Felipe Massa, to cover for him and protect his future. That much was fairly evident at the time, but it’s interesting nevertheless to hear him say it now, mainly because Schumacher was always such a mentally driven driver, rather than an emotional one. It was rare in his racing days for him to do anything that was not utterly pragmatic, partly because beneath More…

Posted on November 2, 2009


Williams has announced the expected 2010 line up of Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg. It is a team they have had in mind for some time. Hulkenberg represents raw youthful pace, but crucially he has shown this season that he is also capable of shaping that into an all-round racing ability. He looks like a driver who will improve himself into the real thing and he is well managed by Willi Weber, Michael Schumacher’s manager. Hulkenberg has been on Williams’ books for two seasons and this year delivered his target of winning the GP2 championship, while Barrichello brings a blend More…

Posted on November 1, 2009


For the second race in a row, Kamui Kobayashi has set the place alight with some bold driving and given the lie to the theory that F1 is too tough for rookie drivers. He finished sixth today, ahead of team mate Jarno Trulli. Starting his second Grand Prix in 12th place, he was the second best placed of the cars on a one-stop strategy today, after Kimi Raikkonen, but he finished well ahead of the Ferrari driver. His strategy brought him into contact with Jenson Button again. The pair had had a battle in Brazil, after which Button said Kobayashi More…

Posted on November 1, 2009


Sebastian Vettel won the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix today, his 4th win of the season and the 6th for his team. Team mate Mark Webber finished second, fighting off a late challenge from Jenson Button in the Brawn-Mercedes. It was Vettel’s fourth win of the season, also the fourth 1-2 finish for Red Bull Racing and, encouragingly for them they have won the final three races of the season, which bodes well for 2010. Red Bull became a top team this season and believe that they can stay there for the future. Lewis Hamilton started from pole position and More…

Posted on November 1, 2009


It’s race day at Yas Marina Circuit, the last day of the 2009 Formula 1 season and everyone is preparing to race for the final time before a long lay off over the winter. The next time F1 cars will be driven in anger is late November, when the young driver test takes place in Jerez. After that no-one will turn a wheel until February. Formula 1 will drop into a deep sleep as far as the public are concerned, although behind the scenes a lot will still be going on, much of it being discussed and planned right now. More…



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