Posted on December 31, 2009


It’s New Year and the end of a decade. The “noughties” were pretty good in F1 terms with some very talented drivers battling it out for glory. I spent most of it very close to the action as the commentator on British TV network ITV and I observed and worked with all the drivers very close up. I would argue that the decade ends with a stronger cast of drivers than we had at the start. I’m really excited about the array of talent in F1 now, with three out and out aces, one potential ace and some very strong More…

Posted on December 30, 2009


We are coming to the end of this Christmas series. I hope you have found it interesting and thought provoking. Thanks for all your comments. The sport is fully engaged at the moment in thinking about its short term future; how to spice up the racing, how to balance sport with entertainment and how best to harness the power of the online media to boost the following. I thought it would be interesting to look a little further ahead and that is what this series has been all about. The final post is on simulation tools, commonly used today by More…

Posted on December 29, 2009


So far we have looked at one area which has got to change for society’s sake, namely engines and one which has to change for the sake of the show, which is aerodynamics. But both are likely to be refinements of what we have today, evolutions rather than any revolution. The materials from which F1 cars are made is probably the area where the biggest changes will occur to the sport in the future. Again it will be set by the rules, with some extremely expensive materials likely to be banned in the interests of cost control, but there is More…

Posted on December 28, 2009


When you contemplate the F1 cars of the future you imagine their shape and that is all about aerodynamics. F1 cars haven’t changed much in looks over the past 30 years and there is no reason why they should – you cannot uninvent aerodynamics. Lotus F1 technical director Mike Gascoyne pointed out that aeroplanes have changed little in looks and fundamental layout since the monoplanes of the World War I and so projecting forwards, there is no real reason why F1 cars should change much in looks over the next 20 years. Not everyone in F1 shares that view, however. More…

Posted on December 27, 2009


Thanks for all the feedback and ideas so far. Given widespread concerns about global warming and the environment, the conspicuous consumption of fossil fuels for entertainment is a concept that has a limited shelf life and it present risks for the sport. This is the key area where innovation is essential for survival – it’s as simple as that. Perhaps given the seriousness of the situation, many of your ideas concern the engines, fuel economy and alternatives for the future. F1 cars will always be light and will need a lot of power from the engine. Most engineers agree that More…

Posted on December 27, 2009


Schumacher has put out a carefully worded message over Christmas to the Ferrari fans, the tifosi, clearly concerned that they should not regard him as a traitor for leaving Ferrari to race for Mercedes, alongside the engineer who led Ferrari to greatness in the early 2000s. The pressure is now significantly increased on Ferrari, partly because F1 now has a new powerhouse team, backed by a manufacturer, but also because if Ferrari cannot match them on the track, critics will inevitably say that it was Brawn and Schumacher who made the Scuderia great and that the team has been in More…

Posted on December 27, 2009


There have been several reactions to the news that Michael Schumacher will race again in 2010; Bernie Ecclestone is relieved and the signs are that every team will benefit financially from Schumacher’s return. But perhaps the most interesting reaction came on Christmas Eve from Corinna Schumacher, long suffering wife of the seven times world champion. It is well known that she was relieved to see Michael get out of F1 in one piece back in 2006 and so for her his decision to come back promotes, predictably, mixed feelings, “My husband’s choice turns our family upside down, but he needs More…

Posted on December 26, 2009


F1 cars have been essentially the same shape for sixty years – petrol engined single seaters with uncovered wheels – apart from the Mercedes cars of 1954. But does it have to stay that way? If technology allows cars to race very close together – or cluster racing – but safely, then the wheels would need to be covered up and the shape would change completely. An engineer will say that to answer the question of what the cars will look like in the future you need to know what the rules will say in 2050. It’s an obvious point, More…

Posted on December 25, 2009


Over this Christmas holiday period I thought it would be good to have an interactive daily series looking at what F1 might be like in the future. I’ve prepared some content I hope you will find thought provoking. Each day I will do a specific post relating to this futuristic theme. Tomorrow we will look at what F1 cars might look like in the future, there will be posts on the engines of the future, aerodynamics, simulation tools and how the racing might be. Why is it interactive? Because I will post some thought starters and I would love it More…

Posted on December 24, 2009


Thanks to all the people who sent in their Top Five moments of the season. There were some really good ones, well expressed. It was a crazy year, with some great moments on the track and some totally insane goings on off the track. Hopefully there will be no return to the hyper politics of this year, but I do fear that the next negotiation over the Concorde Agreement post 2012 is going to get bloody. Behind the scenes it is the topic on the minds and lips of all team principals at the moment. I read all your entries More…

Posted on December 23, 2009


Michael Schumacher has today confirmed his return to F1 and explained that the motivation was a human one; his old friend and colleague Ross Brawn needed him and he wanted to drive again after three years out of Formula 1. His motivation in the summer was that Felipe Massa had been injured and Ferrari needed him. He said that it was hard to split with Ferrari after a relationship lasting since 1996, but Ross Brawn’s call was a powerful one. Getting close to that comeback made him realise how much he wanted to race in F1 again, “The motivation I More…

Posted on December 23, 2009


Tonight Bild newspaper in Germany is reporting that Michael Schumacher has cleared the final hurdle in his quest to return to Formula 1 after three seasons of retirement and has signed a one year deal with Mercedes. Bild is a favourite place for both Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber and for Mercedes to leak stories. Although the Mercedes GP team is run by Ross Brawn, the pairing of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg in their Silver Arrows will make it Team Deutschland, as Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche alluded to the other day. Schumacher’s doctor gave the all clear for him to race More…

Posted on December 21, 2009


The Mercedes GP team has won the hotly contested battle to secure the sponsorship of Malaysian oil company Petronas, in what it describes as a “long term deal”. The deal is a significant one, worth €30 million per season. Combined with the prize money the team won this season as Brawn GP, which is of the order of €50 million, this gives Mercedes an €80 million budget for 2010 before they themselves have injected anything, or any other sponsors have contributed. Alongside Ferrari and McLaren, this team is starting to look like a new powerhouse team for Formula 1, something More…

Posted on December 20, 2009


Over the Christmas and New Year period here on JA on F1, as well as monitoring the ongoing news sagas, like Michael Schumacher’s comeback, we will have plenty of easy-going festive content; we’ll be looking back at the 2009 season, running a short season of forward-looking pieces and a couple of public votes. So keep checking in, especially if you are snowed-in and bored! The first vote is for the top five moments of the year. We had some great racing in 2009, some stunning passing moves and some dramatic moments both on and off the circuit. I want you More…

Posted on December 18, 2009


Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has again put the spotlight on Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s expectation of him that he will work for the team and not for himself. The driver of whom Ron Dennis once said, “Competitive animals know no limits” and Martin Whitmarsh said, “As long as they can keep him winning I’m sure he will be happy,” comes to Maranello with a bit of baggage and Montezemolo has chosen to confront this head on. He said today that he had spoken with Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali “1,000s of times” about this subject while assessing the risks More…

Posted on December 18, 2009


Dr Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Daimler AG, which owns Mercedes has said that the team will not know who will partner Nico Rosberg until the New Year. With speculation raging about Michael Schumacher making a comeback at the wheel of a Silver Arrow and suggestions that he may do an extended test in a GP2 car at either Abu Dhabi or Bahrain shortly to evaluate his recovery from neck injury, Zetsche said that, “We are struggling to announce a second driver. Who the second driver is, we will probably not know until next year.” Zetsche was speaking to German More…

Posted on December 17, 2009


Peter Sauber has always been a big supporter of talented young drivers. And in his latest guise as a reluctant team owner – having taken back his team from BMW – he is backing his instincts and giving Kamui Kobayashi a drive for 2010. It was announced today that Kobayashi will drive for BMW Sauber, as the team has not yet had its name changed. Kobayashi made a big impression in his two Grands Prix at the end of the season, not having driven an F1 car for seven months when he got the call up from Toyota to replace More…

Posted on December 16, 2009


The FIA has made another quiet but sensible decision, putting right something which was clearly wrong this season by allowing young drivers to test a car should they be called upon to move up to a race seat. This season Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean were obliged to jump into a race car with no testing when they were called up to replace race drivers who had been sacked. Luca Badoer also had a torrid time in the Ferrari with no opportunity to familiarise himself with the car. The testing ban was introduced as a cost saving measure, allowing teams More…

Posted on December 16, 2009


Renault announced today, as expected, that it is to stay in F1 for the moment, but having sold an interest in its Enstone chassis operation to Genii Capital, run by tech investor Gerard Lopez. Lopez was not present at the announcement in Paris and Renault’s long term strategy in F1 is not clear from today’s announcement. Of primary importance as far as Bernie Ecclestone is concerned is that the name Renault remains in the sport and that they continue as a supplier of engines, to maintain the balance with Mercedes and Cosworth and it was also confirmed today that Red More…

Posted on December 15, 2009


Renault has called a press conference in Paris tomorrow to announce its decision on Formula 1. It seems that they may announce that the company has decided to sell a 75% shareholding in its Enstone operation to Gerard Lopez, the 37 year old internet entrepreneur who was the first investor in Skype. The deal entails Lopez and his company Gravity, getting the factory for nothing and a guaranteed free supply of engines for two years. The sponsorship of the French Total oil company is also included. In return the team remains under the Renault name for at least the 2010 More…

Posted on December 15, 2009


Virgin Racing launched today in West London with Sir Richard Branson promising “to be a winner in the end” in Formula 1. It was a confident launch; the business package around the team seems strong and the team structure is interesting. To succeed it will require the various components to work together despite cultural and geographical differences. The design side is under Nick Wirth in Oxford and the race team management under Manor’s John Booth in Sheffield. The chairman is the vastly experienced Etienne de Villiers, formerly of Disney and ITV. He has been put in place by the venture More…

Posted on December 14, 2009


The latest twist in the story of Michael Schumacher’s move towards a comeback is Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo saying that Ferrari’s consultancy agreement with Schumacher is not binding and they cannot hold him if he wants to race for “a competitor”. Sources in Germany suggest that Schumacher was not prepared to move forward with the comeback unless Montezemolo gave it his blessing and perhaps this was the purpose of today’s interview with Reuters. Schumacher is due to meet the Ferrari president later this week, apparently. My sources in Italy and Germany are now adamant that this deal is going More…

Posted on December 14, 2009


Jenson Button collected a trophy yesterday at the BBC’s Sport Personality of the Year award, but not the one he was expecting. He was the favourite going into the event, but like Lewis Hamilton last year, the F1 world champion found himself demoted to second place, in this case by the Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs. The award is based on a public vote during the programme and this year’s Sports Personality event was totally overshadowed by the X Factor talent show which was on at the same time on ITV and which drew an audience of 20 million people. More…

Posted on December 14, 2009


The new Lotus F1 team has revealed the scale of its ambition by announcing that Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, both race winners in F1, will drive for the team in its debut season next year. From the point of view of the drivers this is a big vote of confidence in technical director Mike Gascoyne, who worked with Trulli at Renault and Toyota. Lotus boss Tony Fernandes has empowered Gascoyne, given him the resources he asked for to get the job done and to have two highly experienced drivers, both of whom are capable of extracting the maximum performance More…

Posted on December 13, 2009


Michael Schumacher – back in Formula 1? That is the word this weekend, thanks to an article in Bild, the German equivalent of the Sun. There are two possible sources of this story – for as long as I can remember Bild has been Willi Weber’s favourite method of leaking stories. Weber is Schumacher’s manager. But Mercedes’ boss Norbert Haug has also been known to let things out through that route. “The contract is ready to be signed,” said Bild, referring to the one year deal, supposedly agreed between the two sides. Bild says that the announcement will come next More…

Posted on December 11, 2009


The calendar for the first F1 season of the new decade has been confirmed today by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council. It features 19 events and runs for exactly eight months from 14 March to 14 November, the latest finish to a season for a long time. The major change from the previous version of the calendar is that Abu Dhabi has got back its slot as the final race, swapping places with Brazil, which had the last event on the provisional calendar. This is an important victory for the Abu Dhabi organisers as it gives the event a More…

Posted on December 11, 2009


The FIA World Motor Sport Council met today in Monaco and voted through some measures which will change F1 in important ways. There was confirmation of the change to the points system proposed by the F1 commission yesterday, with 25 points for the winner and, as expected, the Sporting Working Group has been tasked with coming up with compelling ideas in January for improving the show which can be implemented before next season. Refereeing is always a source of needless controversy in any sport and after a lot of rows over stewarding decisions in recent years, new FIA president Jean More…

Posted on December 10, 2009


Formula 1 is set to introduce a major change to its points system to reflect the fact that the grid has expanded from 10 to 13 teams. A proposal was agreed by the members of the F1 commission, which met today for the first time in five years and, if approved by the FIA World Council tomorrow in Monaco, it will mean that a race winner will score 25 points, with 20 for second place, 15 for third, 10 for fourth, then 8-6-5-3-2-1 down to 10th position. This was approved because it was felt that it was important that the More…

Posted on December 10, 2009


Nick Fry perpetuated the rumours about Michael Schumacher making a comeback with his team as he spoke to the press today after his appearance at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco. He declined to comment on whether the team was talking to the 41 year old and said that they had a shortlist of “3 or 4 drivers”. He said that nationality wasn’t important because Mercedes already has a German driver but he said that experience was vitally important. They may announce the identity of Nico Rosberg’s team mate this year but it would more likely be next year. More…

Posted on December 10, 2009


Formula 1 is in robust shape but needs to attend to the demands of new media, that was the strong message from Monaco this week. And Mercedes team boss Nick Fry indicated that the sport was now ready to take that step. The Motor Sport Forum has just wrapped up and delegates are leaving with plenty of new ideas and insights. Over the two days we have heard a lot about the impact of the credit crunch on motorsport, how the Copenhagen climate change talks will impact the sport in future and heard a great deal about the next turn More…

Posted on December 9, 2009


The Motor Sport Business Forum kicked off today with Tony Fernandes the new team principal of Lotus F1 talking about the opportunity he sees in F1 and continued with a fascinating discussion on the changing model of team ownership, involving Gerard Lopez, one of the men bidding to buy Renault F1 team. The discussion moved from how the sport had fared through the credit crunch and the ‘bumps in the road’ like the Singapore crash scandal and the breakaway threat, to whether the end of the manufacturer era in F1 is permanent, but the most interesting aspects focussed on the More…

Posted on December 8, 2009


The world of motorsport is gathering this week in Monaco for a series of meetings culminating in the World Motor Sport Council on Friday and the gala World Championship presentations on Friday night. There are a number of items on the agenda at key meetings for F1 teams and stakeholders this week, the first with Jean Todt as president of the FIA. The F1 commission is meeting for the first time in four years and although it is unlikely to agree any significant new measures for next year, because teams would have to agree unanimously, it looks like there could More…

Posted on December 7, 2009


Silverstone is hosting a press conference in London this morning, with BRDC president Damon Hill due to announce that a deal has been struck with Bernie Ecclestone for the race to stay at the Northamptonshire track until 2026. The deal has a break clause after 10 years. The olive branch offered by Ecclestone, which swung the deal as far as Silverstone was concerned, was a reduction in the compound interest due on the deal each year, which will save Silverstone a significant amount of money. The starting fee to host the race is £12 million for 2010, rising to £16.8 More…

Posted on December 6, 2009


Bernie Ecclestone has heated up the debate about Michael Schumacher making a comeback at the wheel of one of Ross Brawn’s Mercedes F1 cars next season with some enigmatic comments in the Times tonight. The 79 year old said it would be “magic”, if Schumacher returned and suggested that this was beginning to gather some momentum. “I would personally doubt that he’s going to make a comeback but, having said that, it’s maybe getting a bit stronger than a rumour,” he said. Of the possible contenders for the seat, which may well include Robert Kubica when Renault disposes of its More…

Posted on December 6, 2009


BMW announced its motor sport plans for for first year after its withdrawal from Formula 1 this weekend. It is based around its ongoing challenge in World Touring Cars and its GT programme in the 24 hours classics, Le Mans and Spa. There is also a strong commitment to the young driver programme. The motorsport department will be led by former BMW Sauber F1 team principal Dr Mario Theissen. This type of racing is very much core business for BMW, which has what you would call patchy history in F1. As an engine supplier it won with Brabham in the More…

Posted on December 5, 2009


Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has shed a little more light on the decision to drop Kimi Raikkonen and hire Fernando Alonso, saying that Alonso is a better development driver, more in the mould of Michael Schumacher and that is what the team needs. Domenicali’s comments will dismay Raikkonen, who has just signed a contract to compete in the World Rally Championship. I have checked with Ferrari and the quotes are genuine. They are downplaying the Raikkonen comments as ‘superficial’, however they say that the sentiments about Alonso are what the team feels at this time. Domenicali was quoted yesterday More…

Posted on December 4, 2009


Always a driver to do things his own way, 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen has announced that he will drive for the Red Bull Citroen team in the World Rally Championship next season. He is the first world F1 champion to make that move. The 30 year old Finn has always had a soft spot for the sport and has competed in several rallies during his F1 career, including Rally Finland. When he failed to find a deal with McLaren for next season in F1 he announced that he would take a sabbatical from F1. That appears to be the More…

Posted on December 4, 2009


Tony Fernandes, the team Principal of the new Lotus F1 team will deliver the keynote address on the first day of the 2009 Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco. All eyes will be on the Grimaldi Forum next Wednesday morning as Fernandes, talks about his new team, his innovative ideas for sponsorship and monetisation of the team and his ambitions within Formula One. I will be putting the questions to him. Send me a suggestion for a question and if I like it and think it’s appropriate, I’ll add it to the list. Fernandes has been a sponsor in F1 More…

Posted on December 3, 2009


Australian Daniel Ricciardo did his reputation in F1 circles no harm at all with a stunning lap time in the final day of the Jerez test for young drivers. At the wheel of the Red Bull, the 20 year old Australian, who won the British F3 championship, clocked a time of 1m 17.418s, the fastest time of the week. It was set on low fuel and new tyres, but it is still a quick time to add to the impressive runs he had put in during high fuel running. Engineers from other teams had their eye on him from day More…

Posted on December 3, 2009


Toyota’s adventure in F1 is now well and truly over as the FIA today granted Peter Sauber the 13th slot on the grid – unlucky for some. A statement issued by the FIA this evening said, “The FIA has written to inform BMW Sauber AG that their application for an entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship has been successful.” “Subject to their signing the Concorde Agreement, BMW Sauber will be awarded the 13th entry in the Championship, taking the place of the departing Toyota team. “The FIA has worked closely with the Commercial Rights Holder and the More…

Posted on December 3, 2009


The McLaren Technology Centre hosted a celebration last night of TAG Heuer’s 25th anniversary as a sponsor of the McLaren team. And today they announced an extension to one of sport’s longest sponsorship deals. From McLaren’s side Lewis Hamilton Martin Whitmarsh and Ron Dennis were there, from TAG Heuer’s side, CEO Jean-Christophe Babin and Honorary Chairman Jack Heuer. This year is also TAG Heuer’s 150th anniversary as a watch maker. Hamilton drove a 1986 F1 McLaren race car, once driven by world champion Alain Prost, down the long driveway alongside the lake. TAG Heuer has worked closely with the team More…

Posted on December 3, 2009


Renault is working out a plan to leave Formula 1 before the start of next season, according to L’Equipe newspaper in France. If it goes through, the sport will have lost four major manufacturers in the space of twelve months, including Honda, BMW and Toyota. A team has been charged by Renault president Carlos Ghosn with making a study into the possibility of striking a deal with Prodrive’s David Richards to take the team on. Ghosn made some uncomplimentary remarks about F1 recently, claiming that it was drifting out of relevance, with the challenge for car makers in the 21st More…

Posted on December 2, 2009


Jules Bianchi has signed up to Ferrari on a contract believed to be for three years. This is the beginning of the young driver programme which team principal Stefano Domenicali spoke about last summer. “Jules is tied to the Maranello squad with a multi-year contract, confirming Ferrari’s commitment to young talent, a policy of which Felipe Massa is a prime example. Further and more far reaching initiatives will be established in the near future,” said a statement on the Ferrari website. Bianchi, 20, is from a racing background. His grandfather Mauro was a successful GT driver and his uncle Lucien More…

Posted on December 1, 2009


Today saw the start of the first and only F1 test of the winter – the three day young drivers’ test at Jerez. Under new rules, this is the only time F1 cars will run before February. Rather patronisingly described by Toro Rosso as “Kindergarten week” in its press statement this evening the test is a chance for the next generation of F1 stars to showcase their talents. And with nine empty spaces on the grid for next year, according to yesterday’s FIA entry list, there is a chance for someone to catch the eye, as Kamui Kobayashi did in More…

Posted on December 1, 2009


A fantastic year for Jenson Button could be rounded out with a win in the most prestigious sporting award the UK has to offer. The short list for the 56th BBC Sports Personality of the Year award were announced last night and he is the odds on favourite to win. Looking at his competition, he should ease through to take the title. It is based on a vote by the British public and F1 drivers have always been well supported because F1 fans are passionate and actively get out to vote. Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart have More…



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