Friday, 14 November 2014

CATERHAM F1 TEAM TO RACE IN ABU DHABI THANKS TO FUNDRAISING EFFORTS OF FANS

CATERHAM F1 TEAM TO RACE IN ABU DHABI THANKS TO FUNDRAISING EFFORTS OF FANS
 
Friday 14 November 2014

The Caterham F1 Team is delighted to announce that it will be racing at the final Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi next week thanks to the support of the fans, who have helped the team raise enough money to make it possible through Crowdcube, the world’s leading investment crowdfunding platform.

Finbarr O’Connell of Smith & Williamson, joint administrator of Caterham Sports Limited: “We set ourselves a major challenge, but it’s definitely been worth it! In only a week the fans have made the impossible, possible. We knew that the best way to keep this team alive and attract possible buyers was to show that it’s still a racing team and be in Abu Dhabi for the finale, and there aren’t enough words to say how grateful we are to all the fans that have made this possible.

“We now head to Abu Dhabi ready to show what a hard-working and positive group of people this is and to hopefully secure a future for the team.  During the past few days the interest of many potential buyers has increased massively and by racing in Abu Dhabi the team will be showcasing itself as a live and functioning team that deserves to continue into 2015 and beyond.  It has hard-working people, team spirit and experience and now it only needs a secure financial future which I’m very hopeful we can achieve.  Once again, I’d like to reiterate that we are racing in Abu Dhabi thanks to all the fans out there – an achievement that will go down in F1 history and one that we can all be very proud of. We still need to raise a bit more cash so please do keep an eye on the Crowdcube website. Let’s go racing!”

Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube: "We're thrilled to have helped get Caterham F1 Team on to the grid for the season finale in Abu Dhabi. It's fantastic that so many people have been inspired to support the team and crowdfund its return to Formula 1."

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Could Silly Season Get More Silly?

We talk a lot in F1 about Silly Season, for those not familiar with the term, its when all the talking takes place about who's going to which team to replace who etc etc etc.

This year the season is exceptional! We started off thinking that it was going to be fairly static as most of the key players had contracts that last until the end of 2015, but after a summer of discontent at Maranello, Ferrari called Fernando Alonso's bluff and signed Sebastian Vettel to partner Kimi Raikkonen in 2015. This has now left Fernando not holding all of the cards, and in some respects not being master of his own destiny.

As such where can the double world champion go? Well McLaren seems like the obvious choice with Honda wanting a 'star name' to bolster its return to the sport next year, but where is the guarantee that they'll be successful? Lets be honest, McLaren haven't built a great car for a good few years and have had more "off years" than most since his last stint at the team!

There is no secret that what Fernando really wants to be driving a Mercedes next year and is holding out for some fall out from the Hamilton / Rosberg war however that doesn't seem to be forthcoming. Of course had Ferrari not called his bluff, he could have sat out another year in red before going to Mercedes when Hamilton's contract ends for the 2016 season.

Another factor that could affect this story is the surprise signing of Felipe Nasr by Sauber. Because Felipe Massa's seat at Williams was negotiated in part by Bernie Ecclestone who was desperate to have a Brazillian on the books to keep the big money coming in from Brazilian TV. Now of course with Nasr at Sauber, Massa could well find himself in a less stable position. So  if your Mr Alonso, you want a competitive car and a Mercedes engine, where could be your best option? Williams of course, it almost makes sense doesn't it?

Of course it's fun to speculate and F1 never necessarily makes sense. But what of McLaren's very own World Champion Mr Jenson Button? Of course if Alonso doesn't want to return to McLaren then it would make sense for him to stay, or has the teams dithering cost them his loyalty? has Jenson now got his heart set on doing something else (such as professional triathlons or WEC racing?) mixed with some F1 media work? So this could leave McLaren with no world champion and no big name meaning they'd have to draw in the likes of Romain Grosjean to partner Kevin Magnussen??

So you see, no one really knows what is going to happen, when the music stops who'll be sat in what seat.. we must wait and see, but the intrigue is absolutely fascinating!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Sauber F1 Team announces Felipe Nasr as its driver for 2015 - Full Press Release

05.11.2014 - São Paulo. The Sauber F1 Team is pleased to announce Felipe Nasr as its driver for the 2015 season and Banco do Brasil as its partner. Felipe Nasr completes the driver line-up alongside Marcus Ericsson.

The 22-year-old Brazilian was the test and reserve driver for the Williams F1 Team this year. Felipe is also participating in the 2014 GP2 series, in which he is currently lying second with four wins. In 2011 he won the British Formula 3 championship and finished second in the prestigious Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix. In 2009 Felipe became Formula BMW Europe champion in his rookie year.

Banco do Brasil has been a partner of Felipe Nasr and has supported him for several years. Its logos will be visible on the side pods and at the back of the rear wing of the C34.


Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal:
“We have been following Felipe’s career path for some time now, and he fully deserves his position in Formula One having had a very successful career in junior categories. We are happy that he will be driving for our team next year. This means that Brazil will have one more young and talented driver in the sport. Banco do Brasil has been an important partner for Felipe so far, and we are delighted that such a renowned company is contuing to support him during this important step. We look forward to this partnership.”


Felipe Nasr:
“It is a very important step in my career to sign with the Sauber F1 Team for the 2015 Formula One World Championship. This is an unforgettable moment that I owe to all of those who have supported me - my family, my friends, my sponsors, my teams and my country. Today the dream has come true. Sauber was responsible for the arrival in F1 of great names such as Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel. I am proud now to also be part of this racing family. I had a wonderful year at Williams Martini, where I learned a lot and prepared myself to be a race driver in Formula One.”

Hayton Rocha, Marketing and Communications Director of Banco do Brasil, emphasises that the partnership consolidates the positioning of Banco do Brasil as the Brazilian bank that invests in most sports: "The main objective of this partnership is to make possible the entry of a new Brazilian driver into Formula One. A sport that has a faithful audience in our country. Banco do Brasil believes in the potential of Felipe Nasr, considered by the specialists to be the most promising Brazilian in motor racing since Ayrton Senna. Apart from that, it is an opportunity to create a connection between our brands and  symbolises our Brazilianness, modernity and technology."


About Banco do Brasil
Founded in 1808, Banco do Brasil is established as a private, mixed-capital Corporation, whose controlling shareholder is the Brazilian government. Latin America’s largest financial institution in assets, reaching R$ 1,3 trillion in 2013, Banco do Brasil provides solutions, services and products in the banking, investment, asset management, pension plan, savings bond and payment means segments, among others, to its 61.4 million customers. Banco do Brasil has the largest in-house service network in Brazil among financial institutions. Abroad, the network consists of 49 of its own outlets located in 24 countries, in addition to 1,200 partner banks that function as correspondents in 134 countries.


Felipe Nasr - Bio
Date/Place of birth: 21st August 1992 / Brasília (BRA)
Nationality: Brazilian
Website: www.felipenasr.com
Height / Weight: 1.75 m / 64 kg

Career:
2014      Test and reserve driver Williams F1 Team
              Currently 2nd place GP2 series
2013      4th place GP2 series
2012      10th place GP2 series
2011      1st place British Formula 3
              2nd place GP Macau Formula 3
2010      5th place British Formula 3
2009      1st place Formula BMW Europe
2008      11th place Formula BMW Pacific
2004,     1st place Brazilian Kart Championship

Monday, 3 November 2014

How To Fix F1

There is a lot of talk in F1 about problems, Be it financial, sporting, connecting with fans, safety etc etc. The one thing we're not hearing a lot about is answers, proposals to solve the problems in F1, ways to move forward and prevent next year being all about politics, or the year after .....

Rule number one - Don't Fix what isn't broken!
Firstly, before we look at fixes, we should celebrate what isn't broken and ensure that these stay untouched with changes later on:

The Racing
The racing on track this year has been fantastic, some would call it a vintage year of on-track battles. Just look at the USGP last weekend, there was some fantastic wheel to wheel action all through the field, and that's without the fight for the lead between the two Mercedes drivers

The Power Unit's
Yes they're expensive and quieter, BUT, they are more fuel efficient, they allow for a new strategic element to racing with choosing when to harvest / deploy energy & when to use the most power. They are also the future of motoring, look at the exciting new road cars already using this technology. they have also encouraged at least one more engine manufacturer to the sport (namely Honda)

The Tyres
Pirelli haven't had enough credit this year. They have bought a good selection of tyres to most events giving us varying strategy options and multiple (but not crazy) pit stops. Also no tyres have gone pop & the extra set in qualifying has made sure that most drivers at least take part in Q3.


So what needs fixing and how?

Money
The de-facto number one issue with Formula One at the moment it Financial. With Caterham and Marussia in administration it certainly looks like a bleak picture, and there are two trains of thoughts with this:
1) If you can't afford to take part in F1, you shouldn't waste your time trying
2) Even small teams deserve to be in F1 and deserve help to stay there

whichever side of the fence you sit on its clear that things need to change. I personally sit somewhere in the middle. Firstly you shouldn't spend more than you have (basic business principal no.1) and you should be more prepared to take on a championship like F1.

The issue here is that the goalposts are too frequently changing. The new teams arrived with the new Budget cap of $40m, this never happened. They also had free tyres from Bridgestone and cheap-ish engines of $7-10m. Since then Pirelli charge for tyres and of course the engines have increased to more like $35-40 per year. This is not a sustainable increase. Imagine signing a 6 month rental contract on a house for £500 per month, to then move on and be told that actually its going to be £700 but then again in month 2 being told its actually got to become £950 etc etc, you wouldn't stand for it would you?

The sport earns $1.8bn (roughly) per year, and only dishes out $900m in prize money, split between the teams. Ferrari also get a 5% bonus (of the $1.8bn) just for being Ferrari. The big teams are never going to give up their commercial deals, but if a new deal was to be negotiated it should certainly be more equitable. All teams should get the same 'turn up bonus' and of course prize money should be transparent.

The easy fix within the current agreements and constraints is to control some costs. Perhaps F1 should share some of its pie with the engine manufacturers. Give all of the engine manufacturers $50m in exchange that they have to supply PU's for $10m per year to anyone who wants one. This immediately impacts budgets and makes F1 more affordable, it'll also entice engine manufacturers to the sport if they are going to be paid to turn up and build an engine. Tyres should also be supplied Free of charge in exchange for more mandated sponsorship.

Positive PR
Lets stop dragging F1 through the mud! Bernie keeps putting the sport down and making it look ridiculous in front of the public - crazy for the promoter and rights owner! Drivers and team owners also need to take a long hard look at themselves as the public face of F1 needs to be promoting the brand and the amazing advances in technology in which F1 is having a great impact. How can we expect more fans to arrive when the product is being so publicly trashed by those at the top?

Interactivity
One of the biggest criticism's of F1 this year is that F1 doesn't do anything to interact with the audience or move in the 'new media' circles. F1 of course needs to be bought out of its shell and into this new world of interactivity and 'content' in order to entice younger viewers who spend more time on social media than in front of the TV watching sport.

Once again this is a fairly easy fix, F1 should send an official social corresponding to each event, tweeting behind the scenes pictures of the world's fastest sport., perhaps getting scoops from the stewards office and info from behind the wall in which TV just can't go. Guaranteed to get followers and provide a revenue stream as you can advertise your partners through twitter. This can include conversations during the races and braking news in between events.

Content is also an important part of this, teaser video's and best bits should be on youtube on an official account to entice people into watching the races. Archived seasons should be available on
the F1 website for a small fee (oh and youtube video's can easily be monetised too!!)

Points
Whilst i'm not totally against double points, Most people are, so they should probably be ditched or replaced with two races on the final weekend so double the opportunity to score. At least making it slightly fairer for whoever loses out on the double points!

Points should also be increased to award for every finisher, This will give the fight at the back a lot more interest and will make a lot more sense to the casual viewer rather than trying to work out who has the most 13th places etc..

Drivers not heroes? 
Personally I don't really buy this, as I understand how fit you have to be, mentally and physically to be able to wrangle the best out of modern F1 car. However a casual viewer may not appreciate the fitness level required, or how much thinking has to go on behind the ever complicated steering wheel of an F1 car.

Whilst the team radio ban helps slightly as we don't get blatant on-air driver coaching any more, this needs to not go to far as the F1 team radio can be highly entertaining and does help to narrate the story of the race in some cases.

So the answer here is to be more open about how hard it is to drive these cars, maybe make them even harder to drive and get rid of audio gear change beeps as surely they're pretty much cheating right?

Penalties
Whilst the introduction of penalty points and the 5sec stop go penalty have really helped this year, the stewards are having a crisis in terms of consistency. Why is driving off the track punished at some tracks but not others etc etc. this is serious as it does undermine some great racing at times. Also more incidents need to be investigated during the race, rather than adjusting results and applying retrospective penalties as its tough to explain why things have changed a few hours after everyone has turned the TV off.

Whilst not an extensive list I feel that we've touched on some issued that desperately need fixing and easy ways in which to do so! F1 is not in crisis, there is plenty of amazing action to discuss, but some fundamental tinkering needs to be done behind the scenes in order to increase the potential of this amazing sport, make the sport fairer and move the sport into the future. Now, someone get Bernie on the phone, its time to talk common sense.








Saturday, 25 October 2014

Money Talking

Formula One, the pinnacle of motorsport, the example to all that follow of how it should be done, however F1 is doing a great job of making itself look rather foolish with Caterham's fate now at the hands of administrators and Marussia who cannot afford to go to the USGP. This leaves the grid at 18 cars for the first time since 2005 when BAR had a two race ban for using fuel as ballast.

Looking slightly further up the grid too, Sauber's troubles are well publicised, as are Lotus's struggles which left Kimi without wages last year and the floodgates of talent leaving Enstone.

But of course all of this could have been avoided. When the "new teams" signed up to join F1 they signed up to Max Mosley's budget cap idea. An idea that would create a 2 tier formula. Tier one, spend as much as you like and stick to the 'stricter' rules. Tier two, spend only $40m and you get unlimited use of your windtunnel and can bring as many upgrades as you like etc.

The teams cried that this was unfair and decided that a breakaway series would be the answer, however this was soon averted by negotiations by Mr Ecclestone who instead got the teams to agree to a resource restriction agreement (RRA) that would start lightly and slowly ramp up to provide real cost savings. This was however NOT in the rules and was a gentleman's agreement.By then the new teams were way to committed to be able to change their plans and had to just do their best under these new circumstances.

Since those days the 'new teams' have been unable to make any real inroads into the rest of the grid and have had lowly everyday struggles just to race around at the back of the grid, the fight to finish tenth in the Constructors World Championship was every bit as hard fought as the fight to win it.

Of course the RRA failed as teams decided it was pointless as not enforced and the whole thing unfolded. With teams spending a fortune just to try and keep up in the arms race that is F1. Queue the biggest changes of rules in the sports history in 2014 and the spending again had to ramp up, with engine costs on their own easily doubling for customer teams. It was clear smaller teams would struggle and thus here we are with two teams unsure if they will ever race again.

But think this, not just are the drivers not allowed to race next weekend (who have paid to be there), The team staff are unsure if they are going to get paid at the end of the month and their families planning for christmas potentially looking for new jobs. Its kids without Christmas presents etc etc etc.

Back in 2013 the World Motorsport Council enshrined in the regulations that a cost cap in Formula one would be discussed and put into action, again through discussions between the teams nothing was agreed or decided, in fact the topic of those meetings now involved un-freezing engines and this increasing development costs!

F1 needs to take a long hard look at itself, because a budget cap, correctly policed would allow the teams to race, perhaps even run at a profit (enticing more teams to join) It would allow teams to budget and forecast for their own futures and would mean that the spend per year of every team is the same. The team that uses that money the best each year will be world champions. Remember this, the fans in the grandstands do not care how many updates are on the cars every weekend, or if the engine tokens have been spent on upgrades, or even who makes the internal components. They care about seeing cars at their limit racing each other, Fans don't want to see 6 teams running three cars. Fans care about racing... and racing would be fairer for all under a budget cap.  Simple really isn't it?

UPDATE: I've had a tweet from Tony Fernandes this evening who confirmed that it would have been a very different story for Caterham had a sensible budget cap been introduced. 





Friday, 3 October 2014

Vettel leaves red bull - official press release

Saturday 4 October, 2014
 
NEW TEAM DRIVER LINE UP FOR 2015 
 
Sebastian Vettel has advised us that he will be leaving Infiniti Red Bull Racing at the end of the 2014 season.
 
We want to warmly thank Sebastian for the incredible role he has played at Infiniti Red Bull Racing for the last six years. 
 
Since joining the team in 2009, Sebastian, together with Infiniti Red Bull Racing, has scored 38 wins, 44 poles and eight World Championships, including four Drivers’ titles and four Constructors’.  If you include Sebastian’s success at Red Bull’s second team, Scuderia Toro Rosso, the Red Bull total increases to 39 wins and 45 poles. 
 
As we wish Sebastian well in the next stage of his career, we also look to the future with excitement, as the vacancy makes way for the next generation of Red Bull racers. 
 
The Red Bull Junior Programme has developed some proven talents in recent times, including Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, who has excelled in the RB10 and become a three-time Formula One race winner in his first season with the team. 
 
We’re pleased to announce that Daniel will be joined in the team for 2015 by another rising star from the Junior Programme, Daniil Kvyat. 
 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

#SillySeason

They call it silly season for a reason! but the rumours hitting F1 this year seem to be much more frantic than usual. The key to this is Fernando Alonso.

Fernando is reportedly fed up at Ferrari's inability to build a championship winning car, They certainly haven't built a car worthy of his ability since he joined and he is worried that his career clock is ticking down.

However a lot of changes are happening at Ferrari that they believe will bring them closer to the top, but can Fernando afford to wait?

So what are his options?

If he wants a championship winning car, he'll need to to move to Red Bull or Mercedes, neither of which have a vacancy, unless of course Vettel wants to go to Ferrari? which has been rumoured for a long time, and of course if Red Bull want to break from their current system of promoting drivers from Toro Rosso and their young driver programme,

His other option is really McLaren who have made no secret of wanting a star such as Alonso to lead their challenge ASAP along with their new engine partner Honda. But after McLaren and Alonso parted on such acrimonious terms could that even be possible? And who knows if the Honda engine will even be as good as the Ferrari? It would really be an incredible blind leap of faith.

It seems in the last 24 hours a third option has emerged, With potential Sauber investor Lawrence Stroll now looking at buying Lotus instead and apparently willing to pay for the Mercedes engine deal, Could this deal see Fernando 'come home' to Enstone and a revitalised Lotus? This is the latest rumour and is probably the most unlikely as so many blocks would need to fit into place to make this work!

So after Fernando, what else could happen?

Is Jenson Button seeing out his last year as a McLaren driver? (Probably not if they don't get a marquee signing,)

Can Lewis and Nico continue as Mercedes team mates after falling out this year?

Could three cars really arrive and change the landscape of F1 and the driver market?

Has Vettel really lost faith in the team that bought him 4 consecutive world titles?

Only time will tell, and only one big name needs to move to start the carouselle, until then the speculation will continue!