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Lotus aim to rise above new team rivals, as Ecclestone attacks
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Lotus aim to rise above new team rivals, as Ecclestone attacks
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Nov 2010   |  8:13 pm GMT  |  98 comments

This will be an important week in the ongoing development of the Lotus F1 team. During the Brazil Grand Prix weekend, there will be an announcement that the team is to use Renault engines for the next two seasons. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, no less, is expected to be at Interlagos to convey the message.

Brazil, booming economically, is a very important market for Renault. Ghosn said recently that one of Renault’s key objectives is to increase market share there from 6% to 10%. With the rapidly increasing middle class, millions of Brazilians are able to own a car for the first time and Renault are targeting that market, as are FIAT.

Lotus will be quite different next year (Darren Heath)


There has been some speculation in Brazil that Bruno Senna may be drafted in to drive alongside Heikki Kovalainen, which would leave Jarno Trulli out of a drive. There is some background to this.

Lotus has been pursuing Brazilian oil company Petrobras for much of this year. Petrobras is the title sponsor of this weekend’s Brazilian GP but hasn’t been seen in F1 as a team sponsor since its 10 year relationship with Williams came to an end in 2008.

At that time it had agreed to move to Honda in 2009 as a significant partner of the team, but those plans fell through when Honda pulled out of the sport in December 2008. Petrobras was keen to align itself with a manufacturer.

Bruno Senna had tested for Honda towards the end of 2008 and was a candidate for a 2009 race seat, but when Honda withdrew Ross Brawn took over, he opted for experience and retained Rubens Barrichello. Senna has said that he is in advanced talks with another team, so we will see how this situation plays out.

Lotus F1 team boss Tony Fernandes is meanwhile trying to sort out a complicated relationship with Group Lotus and I wonder to what extent this is holding many things up. I suspect a lot.

Clearly although the Renault announcement has been delayed by the uncertainty over the team name and the ongoing wrangle between the two sides of Lotus, it has now been decided at the highest level in Renault to get on with agreeing and announcing it.

In today’s Financial Times Bernie Ecclestone attacks the new teams, saying “We need to get rid of a few of those cripples, they do nothing for us. They are an embarrassment.”

However he added the caveat that, “Lotus is the only team that looks good and would be good to keep.”

His main target is Virgin Racing and his unhappiness that Sir Richard Branson is using F1 without putting in a significant investment of his own money. Having decided not to buy the Honda team, Branson had quite a sideshow going last year as one of very few sponsors on the Brawn car.

The structure of the Virgin team is quite complex, with Wirth Research contracted to design, produce, engineer and develop the car, Manor Racing responsible for the mechanics and operations side and Virgin in charge of the commercial side. A significant stake in the team is held by LDC, an investment arm of Lloyds Bank.

The funding comes from sponsors, who are drawn in by the opportunity to use Virgin’s customer database and and its many channels. Virgin entered F1 when Max Mosley’s £40 million budget cap had been agreed by the World Council, before the existing teams rebelled and threatened a breakaway. They have stuck to that budget, despite the collapse of the budget cap idea.

Ecclestone’s comments echo those of Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo at the start of the season when he said that the new teams were “limping” into the competition.

Today Hispania and Williams announced a collaboration for next season on gearboxes. Like all the new team they have struggled with gearboxes and hydraulics from Xtrac this year and so they are taking a step forward with Williams technology, as Lotus are with Red Bull transmissions.

* Meanwhile I’ve been thinking a bit more about the plight of Nico Hulkenberg, who appears to be out of Williams in favour of Pastor Maldonado. I posted on this yesterday. Given his nationality and that Willi Weber is his manager, accepting the reserve driver role at Mercedes next year might be a better bet than racing for one of the smaller teams. That way he would be in position to race alongside Nico Rosberg when Michael Schumacher calls it a day, quite possibly at the end of 2011.

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98 Comments
  1. JR says:

    I do hope that Bruno Senna gets a chance with a better car next year, he is too big of a talent not to. The Hispania car has basically been a Gp2 car this year in F1. Are there any teams other than Lotus interested in him James?

    1. Jaco says:

      Have you been watching F1 this year? Senna has been terrible! Just look at Singapore to see how ‘talented’ he really is. The only talent that I can see is his amazing ability to block the frontrunners when he gets lapped.

      1. Richard M says:

        He was outqualified by Klein at Singapore because on the Saturday he had huge snap oversteer on his car, he was faster than him on the friday and had been faster than him in previous practice sessions earlier in the year. He also outqualifed Chandock 6-3 and apart from Korea where Yamamoto did a barnstorming lap outqualifed him at every race. Senna has been driving a car than was bad at the start and has not been updated at all this season, so all he can be compared against is his team mates which he has all been faster than.

      2. Rick J says:

        I think the fact that Yamamoto out qualified him once is the point.

      3. unoc says:

        Senna’s car for atleast part of the season has been draging in development terms behind his teammmates for some reason unknown to me. From the very first race, Chandhok had a gearbox that could change gear faster Senna’s.

        And 2ndly you can’t use singapore as an example, something obviously wasn’t right for senna then. Klien beat senna by 1.2 seconds. Klien isn’t that good, and if he was truly 1.2 seconds faster in quali pace (with Klien only haven drive the car in one fp before hand) than Senna in even cars then I’m suprised Senna is able to keep pace with yamy.

        It’s hard to get confidence in an F1 car, and in a car that you can’t take anything for and have on confidence in I doubt he can really get a grove going for it. I’d like to see both him and chandok in a car that they can learn and drive properly and have confidence in that it wont snap oversteer and the understeer and then spin and jump and then understeer some more down each straight. I’m guessing (and correct me if I’m wrong James), Klien having confidence in an f1 car in the past would have helped him battle with the HRT better than someone attacking it with no experience.

  2. zack says:

    james i know money talks but senna has been awful this year klien made him look silly in singapore and yamamhoto is making him look silly now he just isnt good enough he really doesn’t deserve that lotus seat

    1. Rafael says:

      Although I think everyone deserves a second chance, I agree with you about Senna being unimpressive this season. The fact that he’s been outqualified by someone (Klien)who hasn’t raced in 5 years speaks volumes.

      Also – regardless of how much the team denies it ever happening – the email he sent to HRT team principal, Kolin Kolles, at the eve of the British GP criticizing his leadership, for me was unbecoming of a rookie – it was an act of arrogance with a sense of entitlement. Looks like someone’s riding on the name/brand his late great uncle firmly established(?).

    2. Andy C says:

      After 1 year in a rubbish car saying someone is rubbish is unfair.

  3. Galapago555 says:

    James, totally off topic: I’ve read in Spanish papers that it could be possible an arrangement between HRT and Epsilon Euskadi (Joan Viladelprat’s project), in order to make a new team for next year. Have you heard anything about that? Do you think it’s possible?

  4. Ralf F says:

    James more on Hulk: have you seen this article? http://www.motorsport.com/news/article.asp?ID=393035&FS=F1

    Do you know anything about it and if it’s true, what’s the deal with Pastor and Rubens then?

    1. RickeeBoy says:

      Article seems Bang On – sort of thing Frank would do – saying 5 year contract ( no idea how much but lets guess at 15 mill for 5 years ) with a 15mill Euro buy out clause. Does seem a difficult choice for the Hulk – Is he that good ??? – I think you are pushing your luck there Frank – If I was the Hulk I’d walk ….

  5. Mart says:

    Hülkenberg would be better off pursing a seat at Renault alongside Kubica, in my opinion; I think it was clear from Petrov’s body language after his shunt in Korea that his chance of having a future at the team as all but evaporated. Commercial interests aside, Hülkenberg should be at the top of Boullier’s shopping list if Petrov does lose his drive as he’s certainly showing himself to be the most-improved rookie this season.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      The bit that you missed is that Renault needs money too.
      If Petrov leaves, his sponsors will probably leave with him. They’ll need a paying driver instead just to compensate for the lost money.

      1. Wallers says:

        I’m sure that it has been said here they need to look at the money that the pay driver sponsors bring in, compared to the revenue gained from finishing higher up the championship standings.

  6. Scott says:

    James,

    What about Williams putting Hulkenburg out ‘on loan’ to a smaller team? They did that with Button so they have history in that area. He’s certainly one to keep hold of if they can. Any whispers of that?

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      I don’t think Willi Webber will allow a team to have disposal of his driver at its convenience. I think that if Williams doesn’t keep Hulk, it’ll loose the 5 year contract. I don’t have any informations about it but that’s how I see it.

  7. Abuelo Paul says:

    It has been refreshing seeing new teams in F1, despite the limited funding, making a go of it, and improving all year. These teams have continually managed to finish races, and qualify within the old 107% margin.
    Bernie needs to stop being so critical of others and “help” the new guys a little. All those established teams, with their millions are making it very Clique-ish. NOT in the sentiment of sportsmanship. Well done to all the newcomers. Lets see more improvement in 2011, and if Bruno gets a Lotus seat we may see a challenge in the points tables.

  8. Roberto says:

    Excellent article James, but don´t you think it´s still a little bit early to talk about Michael´s next retirement?

    1. Josh says:

      here here. MS will be back.

  9. Thomas in Australia says:

    Bernie really does suffer from foot in mouth disease doesn’t he….. That is a bad quote any way you look at it.

    As for Trulli, I doubt I would notice if he was gone. An unspectacular driver in every sense.

    1. AB says:

      Bernie never says anything without a reason. There will be something behind what he is saying. Maybe daring Branson to do more to get Virgin moving forward

    2. stringers says:

      When Trulli drove for toyota last year, he had 3 podiums & finished 8th in the DWC – not that bad eh ?

      1. Josh says:

        could have done much more given the equipment

      2. stringers says:

        Like Timo did(nt) ?

      3. Thomas in Adelaide says:

        Aye, but the fact that I cannot remember it means he did it in regular Trulli snore-fest fashion.

        I don’t doubt his talent, i just find him one of the more boring drivers on the grid.

  10. Tony says:

    Senna in a Lotus Renault, I guess anyone called Warwick needn’t apply for the second seat. If they cannot use Team Lotus as a name perhaps they should use World Wide Racing instead as it was used to avoid legal complications at Monza one year.

  11. Paul L says:

    I would keep Trulli, not Slowvalainen.

    1. Andy says:

      Kovalainen’s reputation was unjustly tarnished at McLaren. He was very fast there when he started but also very unlucky and was never able to bounce back from that. In his rookie year he beat Fisichella fair and square and has done the same to Trulli this year. If you had to let one of the drivers go, why would you kick out the faster one?

      1. Josh says:

        Kovi is an untapped talent. Watch this space. He will be up there. Look how at how Webber has developed over the years. Give kovi some time

  12. RobK says:

    Well, I have been reading elsewhere that what is stopping Hulkenberg from signing as actually Williams wanting a 5-year deal…. so far from being in ‘plight’ he may be the one in control..

    And as to Ecclestone – really, I think we are passed calling people ‘cripples’ and really, all this hype around Lotus is exactly that. Just plain hype. Virgin have consistently improved throughout the year and have done a great job on a very restricted budget.

    Just my view, though.

    1. YourDumDee says:

      He didn’t call people cripples. He used the term to describe the financial condition of a corporation presently racing in F1. Political correctness is such a bore. Virgin should be investing more in light of what they are getting out of F1. I think Bernie is right in looking to Billionaires like Branson to give something back to a sport that is enriching his empire for pennies on the dollar. (or Euros as it may be) The restricted budget at Virgin that you refer to is exactly the issue. Who do you think “restricted” it? Branson?

      1. "for sure" says:

        You clearly don’t recall that Virgin entered on the basis of the then 40 million cap, and have subsequently stuck to their business plan based upon that budget. Let’s look forward to the day when only the cars in red can afford to participate and then we can finally close the door on this so called sport.

      2. YourDumDee says:

        I think the whole point is that if guys like Branson would actually invest seriously in F1, the likelihood of having only the red cars left to participate would actually lessen. Our sport needs serious long term investment in order to remain viable. It’s nice to see Vigin in the field, but Branson has nibbled rather than taken a big bite. It would be nice to see him get more involved. I think that’s what Bernie is driving at in his own inimical way.

      3. "for sure" says:

        As I said above, Virgin entered on the basis of the then 40 million cap. The FIA in the guise of Max, sold the F1 commercial rights to Eccle$tone for peanuts for 100 years (can you imagine the FA selling football rights to Sky for 100 years!!!!!!!!), who then went on to make an unimaginable fortune for himself[mod] along with his partners CVC. Arguably nobody apart from Bernie and CVC make any money out of F1. Even if Toyota, Honda BMW et al had been successful they would still have lost a fortune.

        We see an ever growing number of boring circuits funded at huge cost by Nation States who have no hope of ever making a cent and who more often than not have had to bus spectators in to try and fill the stands, [mod] whilst no one can rustle up the backing to run a decently funded team.

        Branson is a shrewd businessman, not a philanthropist. The only way he is going to invest seriously as suggested[mod] is if he has some prospect of a worthwhile return. That’s what investing is about! Until the F1 business model changes, the sport is going nowhere, and Ecclestone describing the new teams as cripples certainly will not encourage anyone else to risk it.

  13. Uppili says:

    Why is Bernie mad at Richard Branson for making a lucrative business deal? After all isn’t that’s what Bernie does too? Bernie doesn’t put much back into the sport anyway to find fault with others. Pot calling kettle black!

    Its also highly unfair to term Virgin Racing as “cripples”. As good or as bad as they have been, they have more or less matched Lotus this year and lets see how they do next year before judging them. The only cripple is HRT.

    1. Mark V says:

      With regards to Bernie vs Branson I agree! This brings up the question of why Bernie doesn’t see Branson as a fellow businessman who is clever and worth building a relationship with rather than fighting with? My guess is his ego. Outside of F1 nobody knows who Bernie is, but the whole world knows Branson, and most think he’s a decent guy to boot!

      It’s a shame really, because Branson’s adventurous image is a good fit for F1 and his brilliant marketing skills could really help push it. But perhaps he’d just as soon watch the jackals eat each other from a distance in the cheap seats?

      1. Josh says:

        I vote Branson to replace Bernie when the old man retires!!!

        Who’s with me??!

      2. Andy C says:

        I would rather see Noel Edmonds taking over or jimmy savill.

        What does Branson know about racing? He’s here for the brand exposure.

      3. JLS says:

        someone needs to replace him, his time is over.
        at the very least someone needs to drag him out of 1986, this sort of press is just amature hour.
        (bernies comments, not james blog, great blog)

      4. Mark V says:

        @Andy C: what does Branson know about racing?
        What does that matter? For example, what did Briatore know about the difference between racing and the Bennetton sweaters he had been flogging until he got into F1? Nothing. But that still didn’t stop him from becoming one of F1′s biggest wheels and Ecclestone’s right hand man. And Branson is arguably far more competent than Briatore.

    2. Mark says:

      Branson is only ever in something for a quick hit then moves on, unless it is a very profitable business. F1 is just advertising for him, he will be in it for 2-3 years max and then sell it on (for a profit of course).

      1. "for sure" says:

        ….as if that isn’t exactly what Eccle$tone did when he sold out to CVC!!!!

  14. SidewaysBob says:

    It’s not often that I’ll agree with Bernie. But he is right about Virgin and Bransons actual interest in the racing. He was all over the paddock last year in his linen suits having a laugh with a cheeky smile and a ready bottle of champers.
    This year I’m struggling to recall his gurning mug on the TV biging up his brand investment.

    But what the heck,I’ve enjoyed the new young bloods at the back of the grid. It’s given Trulli something to do without getting in everyone’s way. Mr Fernandes has proved to be a jolly nice bloke and has tried very hard to be professional and not cock around too much with the Lotus name.

    HRT, well yes, all rather embarrassing I’ll admit. But you have to admire their pluck and it looks like they’ll make the end of the season. A considerable achievement when you consider that the car is the very same car that started the season and is only held together with gaffer tape and a pair of Colin Kolles braces he left in the factory one night.

    10 years ago Redbull were a rather rubbish Jaguar racing. Today they look set to win at least the constructors championship. Given time even the most stupid of ideas can bear fruit.

    1. Bushhead says:

      To be fair to what was Jaguar/Stewart I dont think they was as bad as HRT are, and with Redbull they have a mighty big piggy bank.

      1. Tony says:

        Jaguar had a huge piggy bank too. As did lucky strike, just goes to show you can spend a lot of money and still get nowhere. I rememberJaguar making a big deal out of using the lightest shade of green paint to make the car lighter.

      2. Bushhead says:

        You got me on that i guess, that said I think any team could be pretty good with someone like Adrian Newey. That man is a genius when it comes to making cars.

      3. Josh says:

        Can you remember when Jaguar had signed Adrian Newey but it all came unstuck when old uncle ron put a stop to it?

        Can you imagine what could have been…

        Jag might just have one a championship or two…

        it just seems that wherever brother newey goes so does the speed & success…

        can you imagine schumi and newey in the ultimate dream team?

      4. James Allen says:

        Bear in mind that the Red Bull team is the old Jaguar team, same premises and many of the same people. So it’s not hard to imagine what would have happened if Newey joined….

    2. Murray says:

      F1 is an aero lab, and Nick Wirth has a point to try and prove with his CFD. If Virgin begins to improve relative to the front-runners, his technology starts to look like a possible alternative to McLaren’s Technology Centre, Adrian Newey, and all of the resources of Fiat and Pininfarina. There’s more to that team than Branson being a cheapskate, and Branson’s investment has wider-reaching implications than simply selling on the team. If Wirth does get a handle on it, F1 will be forced to radically reduce aero or CFD will be everything. At least Virgin are innovating, and in line with the budget constraints that Bernie and Max wanted to do. Lotus are priming the money cannon to buy in engines and gearboxes in the hope of gaining a uniquely successful combination, but HRT are the “cripple” that Bernie refers to. Sad, because I’m sure they’re as enthusiastic as every other team, but they’re not a viable business, nor do they have anything to offer except a Sunday track day for wealthy drivers.

      1. sidewaysbob says:

        But the CFD route has patently failed as the car has not improved in anyway shape or form. There is a case for using CFD in conjunction with the driver saying, “that’s rubbish i need more front end grip”

    3. Phil Retsas says:

      I think Newey in the Jaguar days would have got lost in all the Ford Management in a similar way to great designers got lost in Ferrari management. All credit to Red Bull, they do seem fairly hands off in their running of the team.

      I don’t particularly like HRT (or PMT as my girlfriend calls them), but I don’t think they’re massively slower/worse/embarrassing than a Minardi was in the 1990′s/some of the Stoddart years.

  15. Alexis says:

    A bit unfair when the FIA gave the new teams about a week to get ready.

    If they’d given the green light to teams in early 2009 they might have some faster teams on the grid.

  16. Richard M says:

    I really hope Bruno Senna get the Lotus seat because I think he deserves a chance to show how good he is.

    James, I said that Hulkenberg might be the Mercedes test driver with the view of taking over from Schumacher in the last comments section!

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      How do you see him deserving of a better seat. In singapore, Klien stepped in and outqualified him by more than 1s.

      How many kms did klien spend on that car before qualies ?

      1. Richard M says:

        Senna did well in GP2, almost got the Honda/Brawn seat until Honda pulled out, outqualified Chandock 6-3, outqualified Di Grassi in normal conditions in a much slower car in Turkey. Klein had had previous practice seasons earlier on in the season and seeing as the car has not been updated at all this season it was the same car and Senna was faster than him in the practice seasons earlier on in the year, he was faster than Klein in Singapore on the Friday but on the Saturday his car developed huge snap oversteer which is the reason for the 1+ sec difference in quali.

  17. rvd says:

    I notice Bernie is about the only one that seldom mentions the “fans”, The FIA and team principles seem to care about a “good show for the fans”.

    I believe a majority of the fans enjoy and admire the pluck of the new teams.

  18. chris green says:

    All these stories revolve around money – or more importantly the lack of.
    F1 is reeling from the global financial crisis but you ain’t seen nothing yet. The imminent collapse of the U.S economy will probably see the end of F1 as we know it. At the very least most of the manufacturers will walk away from F1.
    Notice how the teams are chasing sponsorship from State owned corporations. Ecclestone is constantly chasing Government sponsored circuits and events. No one else can afford the F1 folly. People think F1 is the ultimate in capitalist enterprise but it’s just another example of State sponsored corporate welfare.
    We end up with average pay drivers and some pretty ordinary events yet classic circuits like Spa get the chop and Raikkonen sits on the sidelines. Realistically only 3 teams can win races.
    The business model of F1 is broken. Ecclestone is the ringmaster and created what we know as F1. He is responsible for this situation. To then sling shit at the new teams just reflects how out of touch Bernie has become.
    I’ll say it again – the solution is a kit car formula. Or rename Formula Ford and call it F1. The racing will be incredibly close and exciting – all 12 teams would have a realistic chance of winning – there’s plenty of opportunity for new driving talent and it’s affordable.

  19. Brian says:

    What is the point of Lotus getting a Renault engine and Red Bull rear-end only to negate these with a driver selected for financial/marketing-based reasons? It is a clear retrograde step which is being employed to a worrying degree even by many respected midfield outfits. This clearly gives lie to those claiming that F1 is in rude health as teams seem increasingly unable to survive without a “sugar daddy” paying for the second car. Surely this is exactly why the budget cap was proposed?

    I read recently that Renault World Series champion Bertrand Baguette has essentially given up on any prospect of getting into F1 as there is a better chance of building a career in Indycars.

    On the subject of Virgin, whilst they are a popular target of critics – they deserve a lot of credit on some levels as they are about the only team to really reach out to their fans with ideas such as their Silverstone camp, their Twitter feed (which is one of the few F1 feeds to come across as being written by a real person who responds to and interacts with the teams followers). They come across as human rather than a mere bland corporate entity – just look at the hospitality they have extended to travelling superfan @alexjsnell – a truly warm gesture and one which I am sure has left a good impression with many F1 fans.

    I thought the whole idea of the new teams was to prove that F1 is not a spending competition where teams should be dependent upon limitless corporate largesse or pay drivers’ seemingly “more money than sense” sponsors…looks like this notion has been swept well under the paddock club carpet…

  20. Ben G says:

    I hate it when BE slates the new teams. It shows meanness and a basic lack of human decency. As does his use of the word ‘cripples’.

    Mind you, I expect no less from a man who admires Hitler.

    1. AlexD says:

      It was Mosley, no him

      1. Rick J says:

        No, I don’t believe Max has ever publicly expressed admiration for Hitler, but Bernie has complimented him.

      2. Peter says:

        Bernie lives in his own world, bless him

      3. Mark m says:

        Max’s father Oswald mosley was the leader if the facist party in the uk until was banned before the 2nd world war so there is a link there. And we know max likes things, oh I think it can be explained as “strict”.

  21. azac21 says:

    I hope Lotus stays in F1 and catches up with the field up front soon.

    But Virgin is a lost cause from the start. I could not believe R Branson at the begining of the year when he said that CFD is all they needed to create a good car. And he added that their car was only (!!!) 2 secs behind teams that spend millions more on development…

    1. Andy C says:

      I don’t like branson, but don’t forget this is not his team. He has renamed based on the commercial deal he did with manor.

      Let’s not forget manor and nick wirth have taken the huge step from lower formulas to f1 (with wirth having been with simtek as well).

      The cfd only route is an innovative approach. Maybe it won’t be as successful as using windtunnels but they have done ok in comparison to lotus this year).

      I’d expect Branson will be back out of f1 within a year or two. Once he’s got a return on his marketing spend (because that’s all this is – IMHO ).

  22. JohnBt says:

    Maybe there should be a third or fourth car from the top teams. Drivers will then stand a chance to proof themselves with a decent car.

    Somehow the crippling teams has lowered the level of racing. It’s like two divisions in a race, 18 belonging to “A” and 6 in “B”. I see no point in lapping backmarkers so very often, that’s not ovetaking at all, in fact it’s an insult to both fans and teams.

    Bernie has a hand in allowing the cripplers entry to this season, am I not right?

    1. Andy C says:

      The day there are 3 or 4 ferraris or mclarens will be the day I stop wAtching f1.

      It’s funny Ferrari and Luca did not have such a problem with backmarkers when minardi were in f1. They joined f1 and only ran 1 car in their first year, finishing 2 races.

      Let’s give these guys a chance. I have no interest in watching 4 car teams. I doubt very much Lewis or Fernando would want a young nico Hulkenburg in a Ferrari it mclaren :-)

      When you look back at some of the rubbish backmarkers of the past (remember forti?) I think sometimes people have short memories.

      Even the great Ferrari bought and ran alfa chassis in the mid 50s because it was better than theirs…..

      1. Murray says:

        Ferrari started as Alfa’s team manager, but his Ferrari team took over Lancia’s F1 project, not Alfa’s, in the mid ’50s

      2. Andy C says:

        I stand corrected, it was the D50s wasnt it :-) Thanks Murray.

        I was -22 years old at the time ;-)

  23. Matt says:

    I really hope that Lotus keep both their team name and their drivers for next year. Senna hasn’t exactly blown away his teammates at HRT.

    But this news added to the Hulkenberg write-up has me concerned about a non budget-capped F1. Things aren’t brilliant when you have a team such as Williams considering a pay driver. It’s easy to think that such a culture – combined with no budget limitations – would ultimately result in two or three big teams with massive budgets and talented drivers, and then a bunch of also-rans struggling to keep their heads above water with pay pilots.

    As for the new teams – I think the sport is richer for their involvement. They’ll be stronger next year.

  24. Ben says:

    I read somewhere that Williams want Hulkenberg to sign a 5 year deal but he doesn’t want to commit. If that is true then I suspect that the Maldanado rumours are a way of Williams trying to get him to commit by making it public they have other options.

    For Virgin or HRT, Maldanado’s sponsorship is worth living with a pay driver. For Williams, a team trying to break back into the top, the drop in price money does not make it financially viable, the loss in points also means they visually are not competing on the scoreboard, the loss of image in taking a straight up pay driver will harm their credibility and the lack of consistency will impede their technical direction.

    A guy who has been in GP2 for 4 years is unlikely to amount to much in F1, particularly one who by all accounts was thrashed by Hulkenberg.

    There is no sense in replacing Hulkenberg with Maldanado, I think Williams want him for the long term but he has the self belief that in 3 years he’ll be fighting for a WDC. And given their form of the last 13 years that is unlikely to be with Williams. So he wants his options open.

    Of course, there is the possibility they will replaced Barrichello with Maldanado in which case we can begin writing the obituary of Williams as I believe they need Barrichello’s technical guidance to bring them back to the front. I think he is the team’s biggest asset in terms of personnel and together with Hulkenberg can bring the team back in to contention.

  25. Ed says:

    I hate it when Bernie criticises the new teams as I can imagine it doesn’t help them get sponsors at all.

    Also, I would be sorry to see Senna get the Lotus seat. Unfortunately, he’s shown not much potential this year, being beaten by all 3 of his team-mates at various times. He got into F1 on his talent, but I fear that a move to Lotus would be based on publicity and his last name more than talent.

    1. Andy C says:

      I dont think you can judge Bruno Senna on one year alone. Nobody knows quite what level of tech is on both cars (I’d heard varying stories about that).

      Barring Lewis Hamilton or Alonso, who else do you think could drive the wheels off that HRT (the wheels are about the best part of the design).

      I am equally confident that a lot of the top drivers sitting in better cars would not show as well (see Jenson for instance when all is not well with the car).

      These young guys need to be given a chance to develop.

  26. Mark m says:

    F1 is a fickle business but the new teams joined f1 under premise of a budget cap so let’s see how it all works when the revised resource restriction comes into effect

    1. Bec says:

      The revised resource restriction is actually going to cost the teams more money:

      External services RR up from €20mil to €30mil.

      Team staff up from 280 to 315.

      Etc, etc, etc.

      1. Drez says:

        No it won’t, they making the glide slope shallower so they will have to make less cost reductions.

      2. jonrob says:

        “The revised resource restriction is actually going to cost the teams more money”
        Rather like in Yes Minister”

  27. Just A Bloke (Martin) says:

    Have you seen the article by Tony Dodgins on Autosport Plus regarding SPECULATION that Proton (Group Lotus) could buy into the Renault team? As an alternative do you think there is any chance Renault could revive the Gordini brand as a “semi works” team, maybe even with Team Norfolk if Proton convert Team Enstone into Lotus…..

    1. jonrob says:

      “Have you seen the article by Tony Dodgins on Autosport Plus regarding SPECULATION that Proton (Group Lotus) could buy into the Renault team? ”
      That would really foul things up and totally undermine Big Tony’s negotiations, I cant understand why if Group lotus are so incensed by Tony’s outfit using the “Team Lotus” identity, they did not cough up and buy it themselves, from David Hunt, indeed why did they allow Tony to use the Lotus name for the team at all in the original deal?

      As for Branson’s input, well he always said he was “putting his brand in” instead of money. Very opportunistic a bit like Bill gates and all his great inventions: DOS from CPM, Windows from Xerox, and a dumb guy at IBM who made it all happen for Bill. Still he is giving it back now!.

      If Bernie despises the poorer teams, how is she going to react to the greater populace in India? (Or will the be conveniently hidden)

  28. Andy C says:

    It is amazing isnt it, F1 never ceases to amaze me with the way it shoots itself in the foot.

    I’d echo everyone elses words in that what Bernie said was unfortunate wording at best.

    I really hope Williams do all they can to keep Nico, as the one way they may get out of the mess they are in is to build a team around a really good young driver.

    They will not get a current top line driver at the moment, and they need to ensure they do not get left behind.

    I personally think Lotus and Virgin have done a good job in the circumstances, and that HRT are suffering from a rubbish chassis designed by Dallara. I can’t pretend for a moment that I like Richard Branson, he is only in F1 for his own exposure. He doesnt care a jot about racing cars.

    I will reserve my judgement on the new teams until the end of the winter. Building an F1 car from scratch is a huge undertaking, and they had a really short timescale to do so. Lets see what happens.

    I’ve already put a bet on Lotus for a podium next year. And I’d love to see Bruno get out of HRT.

  29. Richard Thompson says:

    HRT are to announce a deal with Williams for Gearbox’s for 2011, not sure what else the deal contains maybe some technical assistance etc.

    Senna is worth a shot at Lotus i believe.

    1. Richard Thompson says:

      Maldanado HRT?

  30. Rick J says:

    Richard Branson has tried to align himself with more responsible and ‘greener’ energy use so he was interested in seeing Formula 1 head in a more sustainable direction with cost restrictions and ‘smart’ technology.

    Bernie Ecclestone has never supported this Max Mosley initiative so conflict between he and Branson is hardly surprising. Bernie can afford this cavalier attitude to things – he won’t be around to see CO2 levels bouncing off the 500 parts per million mark.

    1. Jo Torrent says:

      Branson is lobbying for biofuel partly used in his Virgin Air company I heard. The problem is biofuel isn’t by any means bio.

      It has an advantage because it reduces CO2 emissions but his drawbacks hugely overcome its benefits.
      Biofuel uses agriculture to produce fuel. Problem is agriculture is there to produce food for us. As you can guess, a car needs much more energy than a human being and so it needs too much agricultural surfaces. To have those surfaces, you either stop producing vegetables and fruits and allocate a percentage of the earth to have fuel purpose agriculture which natural consequence is that food cost will rise enormously. The problem is that most human beings aren’t rich, they’re even poor by western standards and if such a thing happens hanger will increase worldwide and brings with it health issues, political trouble, etc…

      The other solution is the one taken by Brazil which consists in stripping the amazon forest and using that earth to produce biofuel. By doing so, the CO2 emissions won’t decrease and earth will be deprived of both its biodiversity and its lungs.

      There’s of course the 2nd generation biofuels using the remains of agriculture but that’s far from enough to make our cars, airplanes, etc… work.
      Don’t forget that it took the earth millions years to produce that energy and we’re using it in a century or so. Don’t think that a little bit of agriculture here and there might solve the problem, it won’t !

      So Mr Branson ‘greener’ energy bla bla is just communication. The only way for FORMULA1 to help in energy saving is to use more extensively KERS and push for more efficient energy engines by not caring about which technology each engine uses but by asking the teams to use a certain weight of fuel not to be exceeded for each race and by decreasing that amount of fuel year after year.
      That would unleash a costly technological war nobody wants neither the FIA nor the FOTA so it won’t happen. The FOTA doesn’t even want to use the turbo 4 cylinder straight engine !

      Bernie doesn’t care about earth health I agree. But I’m not convinced that Richard Brason is much greener.

      1. Andy C says:

        Isnt it ironic that RB is campaigning for green fuels in F1 when the airliners taking most of the F1 circus around the world are massive polluters.

        I’m with you, KERS and other
        technologies are very important and its good F1 will be involved.

        Its a shame that Williams dont get to use the flywheel KERS system in F1 as understand it was excellent (but is too big to package).

  31. Christopher Snowdon says:

    James (sorry to go slightly off topic), but what will Mercedes do if they are not a success next year, they want Vettel (well I presume they do), their own team can’t have helped relations with Mclaren (another interesting discussion of what will power them when their Mercedes contract is up), and if the car is not a world beater next year, history suggests manufactures don’t hang around to drive in the middle of the pack. Could there be a tie up with red bull racing if things don’t go to plan?

    1. Richard Thompson says:

      Mclaren will most probabily want to bring in their own engines.

      1. Bec says:

        They might have to now.

        VW have seemingly rejected entry into F1, and it’s rumoured that McLaren had approached them over a supply of engines.

      2. Christopher Snowdon says:

        Who would help them make their own engines, or would it be an in house operation? James do you think we could have an article on the possibilities of future engines/engine suppliers?

      3. Andy C says:

        Chris,

        Ricardo helped McLaren on their roadcar engine, so that could be a possibility, although from memory there are often a lot of moves within F1 tech departments as with the aero (one of Ferraris head engine gurus came from Honda at one point – when honda were top dogs).

  32. Robert McKay says:

    It makes me laugh at Bernie’s complaints Branson isn’t putting the money in. It’s almost like Branson is treating F1 with a hard-nosed commercial viewpoint…not like Bernie would ever do that, now, is it?

  33. John Player says:

    “We need to get rid of a few of those cripples, they do nothing for us. They are an embarrassment.” he says.
    Well, Lauda seems like a very healthy man after this.
    The new teams did everything correctly, firstly following all the procedures to earn their place and then made it to the grid too, already for the first race.
    Maybe the only one we should get rid of, is Bernie, not the new teams. It is very tight with limited testing, it is very tight with funding, the rules are unstable etc. What did he expect?

    I love to watch those ill handling cars, Red Bulls are so neat that it makes me yawn. Sadly we see more shots of leaders driving in safe mode rather than drivers of Hispania or Virgin fighting their cars.

    1. Bobby says:

      Agree wholesale. I’m so pleased to see a near-full grid. It would be terrible to see the F1 grid dwindle like it has in MotoGP.

      Second pont, you’ve got to give these new teams time; you don’t become a champion overnight, just look at BAR/Honda/Brawn for example, and in the BAR/Honda days they were operating with a hell of a budget.

      Bernie’s a fossil, seems to have less insight into the running of a modern F1 team than your average armchair fan.

  34. tharris19 says:

    I would wager that Bernie didn’t bad mouth the new teams on the way to the bank with their checks.

  35. Obster says:

    Bernie and the FIA are not blameless in this. The rug was pulled out from under these new teams by changing the budget rules after these teams had made a serious committment. Other proposed teams like Lola bailed when the budget was cancelled.
    This sort of reversal happens time and time again in F1-think double diffusers and KERS-and I think is partly responsible for the factory sponsored teams like Toyota BMW and Honda heading for the door.

  36. Matthew says:

    The new teams have been interesting. Last year a team called ‘Brawn’ won the WDC, this year it may be a team called “Red Bull”. I may be missing something but neither of these are Ferrari, McLaren or Williams in diguise are they? The virgin team are so hopeless I didn’t even realise they are even racing as per Hispania who I have never even heard of. What makes people think that Lotus, if they get back to racing (under any name) will have a competitive car. Bruno Senna has certainly been a pain for many cars trying to lap him this season and if he gets anywhere near the front of the field there could be carnage every week. New teams are needed, but they also need to give it a fair dinkum go and for mine virgin should be just be kicked out if they don’t put up a budget and don’t post any sort of competitive performance (both criteria). A team who throws all available resources at it and is no good should be given three seasons. A team that is good but poor won’t be poor for long. A team that is rich but doesn’t put in the funds and doesn’t perform should have their license (sic) revoked indefinitely.

  37. Olivier says:

    Petrobras = Team Lotus sponsor
    Bruno Senna = Team Lotus test driver

    It does make sense to me. If true, this story will prove very visionary.

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