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Some loose ends to tie up in F1 before the end of the year
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Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Dec 2012   |  5:20 pm GMT  |  71 comments

With just 16 days left in 2012, there are still some important loose ends yet to be tied up in F1 circles with the question mark over a 20th race for next year, the new Concorde Agreement requiring signature and some seats on the grid still to be filled.

According to its own statutes, the FIA has until January 1 to confirm the 2013 calendar, with a slot left open on July 21 for a race to replace the postponed New Jersey event at the recent FIA World Council.

That meeting and the FIA prize giving, took place in Istanbul and there were hopes during the days leading up to the meeting that Turkey might come back onto the calendar, but the Turkish government ruled out funding for an event. Red Bull has expressed an interest in filling the slot with a race at its A1 Ring in Austria, but this is also thought unlikely.

So as things stand it looks like a 19 race calendar will take place next season.

More pressing is the need to sign the new Concorde Agreement, between the teams, the FIA and the commercial rights holder, led by Bernie Ecclestone. The current one expires on December 31st.

The Concorde Agreement is essentially the labour agreement that binds in the three stakeholders for eight years and it’s the foundation of the leading F1 shareholder like CVC’s value in the business.

This still remains unsigned and loose ends to tie up; Ecclestone recently made a comment that he feels F1 could do with just 10 teams.

“I’d rather have ten. I never wanted twelve,” he told Reuters last week. “It’s just that ten is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have ten.”

HRT are already finished, but Marussia have been generating fresh investment and have lodged their entry and deposit for next season. It is believed that some funding has come from the Chilton family and there are other investors floating around the team.

With a Russian Grand Prix due to join the calendar in 2014, it makes sense for the team, which is bankrolled by Russian scientist Andrey Cheglakov, to remain in the sport so there will be a Russian team on the grid for the inaugural race. But unlike the other teams Marussia was not made a commercial offer by Ecclestone and seems to be in limbo. Ecclestone’s comment is no doubt a way of applying some pressure to resolve a blockage in the system somewhere.

There are also some seats yet to be confirmed with Romain Grosjean’s at Lotus the mots attractive. Although he has upset a lot of people in F1, it is thought likely that the Frenchman will be retained for 2013, as he also brings a significant budget from oils company Total. Back in 2010 the team confirmed its second driver on December 22nd, so they have a track record of leaving it late.

The two seats at Force India are not confirmed yet. Last year the team announced on December 16th, so it’s possible that we could see something next week. Paul di Resta is thought likely to hold onto his seat, while alongside him there is a suggestion that Adrian Sutil will make a return, possibly with Jules Bianchi playing some kind of role if there are visa problems due to Sutil’s criminal record. Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastian Buemi and Kamui Kobayashi have also been on the shortlist for some time.

At Caterham Bruno Senna is still hopeful of a deal, as is Giedo van der Garde, although both men’s hopes were dented when Vitaly Petrov secured the finish in Brazil that brought the team 10th place in the final Constructor’s championship and a multi-million pound payday. Petrov may be rewarded for this and for outpacing Heikki Kovalainen in four of the last five Grands Prix of the season.

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71 Comments
  1. David Ryan says:

    I don’t know whether this is just a sign of me becoming increasingly cynical, but I can’t help wondering if Bernie only wants 10 teams so he doesn’t have to pay out as much prize money and TV money…

    Anyway, certainly a lot left to sort out before testing starts next season. I’d be surprised if either Turkey or Austria make a comeback this late in the day just because of the marketing headache it would cause, but I suppose anything is possible. As for drivers, I think Grosjean will probably hang onto his Lotus seat (he’s got pace and can get the results when he calms down), and probably one of Alguersuari or Kobayashi for the 2nd Force India seat. I think Sutil’s ship has sailed unfortunately. Buemi will probably stick with Red Bull in case anything happens with either of their drivers for 2014 rather than go back to the midfield, and Caterham is anyone’s guess really. It would be a shame to lose Kovalainen from the grid, but he seemed to lose heart as the season progressed.

    1. Clear View says:

      The prize money etc only goes to the top ten teams anyway I believe. I’m sure I will be corrected if I’m wring.

      1. Scott says:

        Yes, you are incorrect there. It’s spelt “wrong”.

      2. Clear View says:

        Lol, didn’t spot that error. I thought they got like a basic payout but not loads, was under the impression 1st to 10th got the money worth having? I have tried to look it up but there is a complicated 3 tier system that I couldn’t really get my head round. All seemed to be trying to avoid making it easy for someone on the outside working it out fully.

    2. Cuba says:

      Only the top ten teams actually get prize money, which seems a bit of an odd system.

      1. hippyneil says:

        Jow Saward had a post a little while ago, after the demise of HRT, which said : “The danger of having only 10 teams is that this means that the 10th can relax a little and reduce its spending in order to do enough to collect the cheques, but not enough to move up the grid. Ecclestone has never been very keen on such “passenger” teams and has always preferred to have an 11th to keep the top 10 busy.”

        If you look at it that way, rewarding 10 out of 11 (or 12) makes sense. You don’t get any slackers. Now either Joe has his information wrong or BE has changed his mind.
        Either way, I’d hate to lose another team. I want more cars on track, not less.

      2. Kimi4WDC says:

        They might want to have a look at Sauber, their new mentality seem to be that running sustainable business is above grid advancement. Unless of course, they can cripple front teams to make the gains.

    3. David Ryan says:

      My understanding of it (which could be completely wrong but I’ll go with it for now) is that while they may not qualify for some of the prize money they still take a share of TV money and other prize money, only directly from FOM rather than through the Concorde Agreement’s prize fund. That’s why I suspect it may be down to money more than anything.

  2. David Morash says:

    No deal with Marussia yet,and Bernie only wants ten teams? Plus the strong arming of Williams! Whose championship is this?

  3. F458 says:

    I really hope that Sutil gets to make a comeback, he outpaced Di Resta towards the end of 2011 and this year has paid the price for his moment of madness off the track. I have been reading your book James where it mentions he has been “blackballed” within F1, what do you think his chances of a comeback are?

  4. Enzo says:

    James, i have been reading rumors that HRT are on the 2013 list, but still haven’t paid yet.
    According to these rumors, there is an investor from Luxembourg, willing to pay the debts, and come up with €25million to participate in the 2013 season with the old Dallara.

    And they would need two drivers with a “bag” of at least €5 million, D’Ambrosio and Karthikeyan are mentioned.

  5. meg says:

    James, you didn’t mention anything about Lewis? Deliberate or just a thoughtless omission?

    1. Steven says:

      Read the title. Lewis is not a ”loose end”, he had a contract, he knows where he’s racing next season.

    2. Martin says:

      Where’s the loose end with Hamilton? He’s got a Mercedes drive, the management situation is currently settled with Haug gone – but could change.

    3. James Clayton says:

      How is he relevant in this article?

    4. Nocticronilux says:

      Where’s Peter Griffin when you need him?

  6. Tim says:

    Sounds like $$$ is the stumbling block to all these issues.
    High stakes poker. I’ve always had the impression that ecclestone enjoyed the business end of F1 to the
    exclusion of Motorsport itself.
    Oh, to have someone at the top with a passion for the sport like the fans. Santa, are you listening?

    Tim

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      I would have Bernie in charge of a F1 team any day, over any other existing manager. And I have no doubt he will work his socks off to make sure that team was a winner instead of trying to make it into a sustainable middle-table business.

      1. Tim says:

        The problem is that he WAS in charge of a team. But unlike people with racing in their blood, (Ken Tyrell e.g., et. al.) he chose otherwise. His interest lay elsewhere.
        The first prerequisite in success is “want”. Lacking that, you may “win”. But it won’t be sustained.

        “…
        Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
        …”
        The Road Not Taken
        Rbrt Frost

        Lol, no pun intended with Tyrell’s lumber yard.

        Tim

  7. Irish con says:

    I’d have senna at caterham. Kamui at force India and Sutil at Lotus and just race at spa twice to make it up to 20 races. Sorted haha

    1. Mitchel says:

      +1

      If only it were so simple!

    2. Curt says:

      The second race at Spa should be run in the opposite direction. Coming down the hill at the end of a long straight would make Eau Rouge a challenge again!

    3. toleman fan says:

      Do you think Eric Lux will be keen to hire Sutil?

  8. tim says:

    James—is Kobayashi seen as the biggest fish of the current crop of drivers looking for a seat, or has Sauber’s lukewarm comments about him in the media really destroyed his reputation? From the outside he seems to be the obvious choice for any team looking to fill a seat—reasonably fast, a gritty racer, popular with fans, potentially linked to Japanese companies and thus advertising. But perhaps those factors aren’t critical any longer?

    1. Mad Kiwi says:

      I also wonder this……good question Tim!

    2. Kay says:

      Japan’s economy is still pretty weak to support a driver I think, but yea it’d be good to see Kobi to stay in F1!

  9. vicnsi says:

    Regarding the 10-race comment by Bernie:

    “Ecclestone’s comment is no doubt a way of applying some pressure to resolve a blockage in the system somewhere.”

    Totally agree. I was really taken aback when I first saw this comment in the news and my very thought was, this surely must be Bernie playing some sort of psychological mind-game with some ‘entity’ behind the scenes. (Typical Bernie Ecclestone!)

    It will all come out sooner or later what these mind-games where all about, I’m quite convinced.

    1. vicnsi says:

      oops…typo…I meant 10-team comment (not 10-race)

  10. Richard D says:

    There’s bound to be further debate on the 2013 calendar as it seems to be flaring up again in Bahrain.

    1. Sebee says:

      Seriously?

      Are you saying Bahrain is like a Rocky movie and were onto Bahrain III this year? Is this now the marketing strategy for this event? Perhaps to keep the GP spectator free for the VIPs.

  11. verstappen says:

    What if Bernie just doesn’t offer Marussia a contract? End of story? Or automatic prolongation of their current contract?

  12. Ivan says:

    James, can you shed some more light why A1 is not possible next year? Obviously, RB can afford it. Considering the recession, I guess no government will be keen to spend money on a GP instead of directing the budget to social programs…

    1. James Clayton says:

      I’m pretty sure we’ll go to either Turkey or Austira. Obviously both of them are eyeing up the chance to host an “emergency” grand prix without having to pay the full fees, it’ll just be a case of which of the two can offer the most at crunch time. Bernie’s comment of “we’ll only have 19 races next year” seems to me just a way to try and get the tracks to increase the offers they’ve already made.

    2. Andrew Carter says:

      I believe the A1-Ring is only an FIA Grade-2 track at the moment, it would need some work to make it F1 ready.

  13. Simmo says:

    So many talented names deserving of a place in F1, yet Bernie wants less teams. It just doesn’t seem right :/

    1. Kay says:

      Less teams, less people involved in arguments, less headache for him.

      Plus afterall, Bernie provides free transportation flights for the teams so less expenses on that front too!

  14. Andrew Carter says:

    Interesting take on Bernie’s comments. I saw it as a case of “We don’t wan’t to pay money out to any of the teams, but if we have to it should be to as few as possible”.

    Frankly it beggars beliefe how he can be so disrespectful to the teams in such a public way. Just reinforces my beliefe that it’s years past time that Bernie should have been put out to pasture, and he can take CVC with him.

    1. Mad Kiwi says:

      +1. As per comments above, Bernie seems to have lost the way with the sport being the main focus.

      I understand the concept of a benevolent Dictator and agree with that philosophy in the F1 environment as being the only way to get things done or decisions made. Rather than a democratic system (indecision and procrastination often being the result) but in this case money and the “game” seems to have taken over for him long ago….Pity.

  15. Seán Craddock says:

    Since there’s money from the Chilton family going to Marussia is Max likely to move up to F1 next season or is he staying in GP2? Still amazes me how there’s been no talks at all about Davide Valsecchi he won 3 races in a row this season, although in fairness all at the same circuit. Is it a lack of funding that’s making him undesirable for the remaining teams?

    Also, one last item yet to be decided is who will be the new face of BBC F1 :O

    1. James Clayton says:

      Suzi Perry

      1. James Clayton says:

        Sorry I thought that had been confirmed. I just re-read the article in which her name was touted and it appears she’s “favourite”, not actually confirmed.

      2. JR says:

        Suzi Perry, who on numerous occasions has said how much she hates F1.

  16. Chris says:

    James, why is there rumours flying around Force India may take Bianchi to help secure Ferrari engines for 2014? I thought Mercedes were believed to be in the best position to make the new spec engines.

    Also, on the topic of engines, any new suppliers coming to F1, i.e. – Honda?

    1. Illuminatus says:

      What did you read to suggest Merc will be in the best position for 2014? I see no difference in terms of capability, design, funding or pedigree between Merc and Ferrari.

      So the Bianchi thing might be a smart way to get it done.

      1. Chris says:

        I thought that was why LH was moving to the merc team??

  17. Cuba says:

    Would be nice to see Jaime, Kamui and Romain secure seats with decent teams.
    If the last couple of years are anything to go by, it really doesn’t matter who has seats at the back. They’re barely shown on TV anyhow.

  18. Smellyden says:

    Hi James,

    Any insider info on the BBC Anchor?

    1. Angie says:

      According to ‘The best F1 tweeter’, it was to be revealed at the end of the BBC’s coverage of Brazil. Obviously awards aren’t everyting.

  19. Ben says:

    JA, I was just wondering your thoughts on Timo Glock and Heikki. Both of them left good teams when the new entrants joined. Are they now discounted in the drivers market? I ask that because I would imagine one of them could do really well with a more inexperienced teammate.

    1. Seán Craddock says:

      Glock had to leave a good team, the team left him! Toyota pulled out of F1

  20. Elie says:

    Bernie is an opportunist he never hesitates to push a team one way or another. I think there are a couple of struggling teams wanting a but more out of the Concorde and Bernie is just screwing them with these comments – effectively saying ” take it or leave it- we don’t need you”.

    Of the remaining seats Lotus have a real dilemma – they do not have very fast drivers to choose from and I don’t really think they should risk Grosjean again. I think Jerome or Jaime Alguessuari are really the best options. Caterham should take Bruno and keep Vitaly ( with Van de Garde as reserve) . Force India can take either Jamie or jukes Bianchi.

    Sounds like a very busy few days leading up to Christmas and maybe some of these decisions have already been made .!

    1. Elie says:

      Correction Caterham should grab Senna or Vitaly ( probably lean toward Vitaly) they already got Charles Pic whom I believe is very deserving of the seat and a future star !

  21. Mika Heikkinen says:

    Ecclestone:
    “I’d rather have ten. I never wanted twelve,” he told Reuters last week. “It’s just that ten is easier to handle, for the promoters, for transport. We’d rather have ten.”

    Yep, sure. The ships are unable to carry stuff for two teams more. It is limited to ten. And we really run out of aircraft in Christmas, when Santa Claus borrows the biggest one for the whole week.

    I have heard Bernie say that F1 is a pinnacle of pinnacles of everything, so now the promoters are unable and unwilling to handle 12 teams?

    According to ESPNf1, he actually concluded: “We’d rather have 10…so long as we don’t lose Ferrari.”

    Pardon me, but which team has made the highest number of lets say, unpopular decisions over the last decade? I thought they blew up even the slightest reason for special treatment in 2002, if not earlier.

    Bernie could make a nice Christmas present and say: “Next year the low funded teams will get more air time than ever, as their ill handling cars are so exciting to watch!”

    1. Kay says:

      Being a Ferrari fan here, I gotta agree with you about Ferrari. At least for 2000-2005 when they dominated the sport to my dislike.

      I have absolutely no idea why Ferrari has special status just because of their long running history in F1 since 1950. If they can have such status, I believe at least McLaren should also have it, and possibly other successful teams and stayed in sport such as Williams. That’s the way to get the manufacturers to stay rather than come and go as they wish.

      Right now basing on that history, that means no one can be on-par with Ferrari unless there’s time travel. It’s just totally flawed.

  22. chris scott says:

    Um 10 constructors? Does that mean 3 cars teams is on the table again? Can’t decide if that would be a good or bad thing. Prob good for drivers wanting seats if it were a 30 grid .although might be a bit manic at the start

  23. F1fanatic says:

    James, any chance of Bruno Senna at Force India?

  24. Horno says:

    Bernie wants 10 teams, as long as they keep Ferrari!
    That is what he said..

  25. Glennb says:

    I’ve got a loose end. Try as I might, I can’t find out who’s hands were on that Ferrari steering wheel. I know it has to be here somewhere but…

    1. Kay says:

      Massa is already confirmed for 2013.

      1. Glennb says:

        Ummmm, I was referring to the picture of someone behind the wheel of a ferrari road car in one of James’ articles. I believe a book was on offer for the first correct guess.
        Thanks all the same.

      2. Kay says:

        Eh…? Lost… lol. Nevermind.

  26. Big Al 56 says:

    I would like to refloat my idea of the top 4 manufacturers in the previous year being allowed to run a third car for a young driver at say a maximum of half the races. All points to be scored in drivers and manufacturers championships. This would blood new drivers with less pressure, add quality cars to the races and provide a nice bit of unpredictable strategy to the races. Perhaps the third car could even be run in a different colour scheme to annoy BE! This would be something for the fans as well.

    1. toleman fan says:

      If you -want- to drive Williams, Sauber, Force India and possibly Lotus out of business – or at best reduce them to the stature of Toro Rosso, go to it, I can’t think of a better way of achieving that. But that is what will happen. And that’s why no-one except Luca is seriously agitating for it,

  27. Gareth says:

    Time for Bernie to step down but if there is something i have learnt, some people dont know when to call it a day

    1. Kay says:

      Sometimes I feel the same, but then who’s there who can do as good a job as Bernie in terms of generating money from and for F1?

  28. lennyz says:

    Hello
    Sorry it has nothing to do with the subject but does someone know if a 3-day grandstand ticket in Silverstone gives you access to general admission area on Friday and/or Saturday ?
    Also is a Club Silverstone ticket really better for viewing (don’t care about catering) than a Becketts ticket ?
    Thank you already for your answers.

    For those interested:
    - in Hungaroring (been there in 2010) with a grandstand ticket you can reach general admission area on Fridays and Saturdays
    - in Nürburgring (2011) you have access to other grandstands, though on Friday only
    - in Spa-Francorchamps (2012) you only have access to your grandstand. :(

    I don’t get why Bernie is so hostile to new teams. Even from a commercial perspective, they mean more drivers so more nationalities so more interest around the world so more viewers.

  29. JB says:

    Regarding Grosjean. This guy has got the speed. The winning the driver’s title twice in ROC proves it. This year, he did it against some top names like Vettel, Schumacher, Kristensen. Although he did loose out against Schumacher on Saturday.

    Lets hope he has a ANOTHER chance and lets hope he does not continue his crashkid reputation.

  30. Matt W says:

    Surely Red Bull and Austria should be rewarded by being allowed to hold a GP at short notice at a cheaper than usual rate. I loved the new A1 Ring as it looked typically Austrian when it was on the Calendar last time out in the hilly countryside.

    It is a shame that F1 can get an offer like that but not want to do a deal because they won’t be making the usual obscene profits from it.

    1. Kay says:

      Agree with you, though I don’t think DM cares about the price tag in hosting it. Though here’s the dilemma. BE wants more and more and yet more money from circuit hosts, and here’s DM got almost infinite cash willing to throw around, but BE isn’t interested in A1 Ring but more interested in tracks like Turkey who has without money to pay o_O

      God knows what this elderly person wants…

  31. Kay says:

    What’s wrong with Valencia and why remove it when there’s a vacant slot for it to take up?

    2012 Valencia GP was pretty good!

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