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DATE News (chronologically)
12/03/13
f1
Latest F1 news in brief - Tuesday  
  • Newey wants change
    GP2 could match F1 cars' speed in 2014 - Scalabroni
  • Alonso manager plays down McLaren deal 'fiction'
  • Newey: weight limit rule must change
  • Ross Brawn will decide F1 future next summer
  • Jackie Stewart ends 45-year relationship with IMG
  • Ferrari feedback unearths $729m Red Bull budget error
  • Vettel and Webber put helmets up for auction
  • Pressure on Lowe and Wolff to replace Ross Brawn

GP2 could match F1 cars' speed in 2014 - Scalabroni
(GMM)  F1 cars could be matched for pace by the single seaters of its support series next year.

That is the fear and warning of Enrico Scalabroni, a well-known name in the F1 paddock, having worked as a technical chief at teams including Williams and Ferrari.

He set up his own GP2 team last decade, and now thinks the support field of 2014 could match for pace the new-generation, V6 turbo-powered F1 cars.

As well as featuring smaller engines, next year's F1 cars will also be heavier, have less downforce due to the significant aerodynamic changes, and probably more conservatively-designed and selected Pirelli tires.

"I hate to be alarmist," Scalabroni is quoted by Spain's El Mundo Deportivo newspaper, "but I would not be surprised if a GP2 car is as fast as a F1 (car).

"You only have to make simple calculations to see that this could occur, at least at the beginning of the development phase in F1.

"Some (people) are concerned with this possibility," he added.

Alonso manager plays down McLaren deal 'fiction'
(GMM)  McLaren may not have given up on signing Fernando Alonso for its new Honda-powered era beginning in 2015.

Team boss Martin Whitmarsh, who openly tried to woo the Spaniard back to Woking for the 2014 season, this week skipped attending the prestigious Autosport Awards in order to travel to Madrid.

In the Spanish capital, Alonso was launching an exhibition featuring the memorabilia of his entire career collected by his father.

Indeed, Whitmarsh was photographed with Alonso alongside representatives of the two-time world champion's other F1 bosses, including Giancarlo Minardi, Stefano Domenicali and Flavio Briatore.

Daily Mail correspondent Jonathan McEvoy said Whitmarsh was so keen to attend Alonso's exhibition that he delegated McLaren's managing director Jonathan Neale to collect the trophy in London to mark the team's 50th year in F1.

"It is understood that Whitmarsh is keen to develop a channel of communication to Alonso with an eye on bringing in the Spaniard for the 2015 season," said McEvoy.

The news ties in with the latest comments made by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who said he was disappointed with Alonso's performance for Ferrari this year.

"I thought he gave up a little bit which is proof that he was looking for another team," Ecclestone wrote in the foreword to the official 2013 season review.

But at the very same time, Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad denied the 32-year-old has already agreed to move to Honda-powered McLaren for 2015.

"What you're saying is formula one fiction," Abad, also in Madrid, told Spanish radio Marca.

"You cannot have two signed contracts, as when you sign one, you must notify the body that controls it.  So it is technically impossible.

"And an unsigned agreement is not an agreement."

Asked if Alonso intends to fulfill the terms of his entire Ferrari contract, which runs to 2016, Abad answered: "Fernando has said the same this year in three press conferences in different languages."

Newey: weight limit rule must change
Efforts to bring forward a 10kg rise in the weight limit to 700kg, which has been agreed for 2015, have so far been thwarted by opposition from one team - believed to be Mercedes - because unanimous support is required to make the change now.

However, AUTOSPORT has learned that the topic has been tabled for discussion at the next F1 Strategy Group meeting, which is taking place next week.

An item on the agenda states: "In spite of the agreement in the last Strategy Group meeting [to raise the weight for 2015], should the overall car weight be increased for 2014 in order to allow drivers of all weights to compete 'on a level playing field'?"

Amid growing concerns from a number of teams that it is going to be very difficult to hit the limit with taller drivers under the new technical regulations, Newey has urged that the matter be given serious consideration.

"I think it should be changed," Red Bull technical chief Newey told AUTOSPORT. "All teams bar one did vote for that weight limit to be increased and it has to be unanimous - but there was one team that objected to it." 

RICCIARDO ORDERED TO LOSE WEIGHT

Tall but talented drivers like Nico Hulkenberg and Jenson Button have already expressed unease at the weight limits for next year, and Red Bull's new recruit Daniel Ricciardo has been ordered to lose at least two kilograms.

Newey accepts that weight is always a factor in racing, but he thinks next year's regulations as they stand go a step too far.

"The power trains are heavy and I think that is an unfortunate aspect," he said. "For the very heavy drivers, I can't really see how the teams are going to get down to the weight limit.

"You can look at that two ways and say, well, if you weigh 15 stone you don't ever expect to be a jockey and if you weigh seven stone you don't ever expect to be a rugby player.

"But I think in this particular case where kids have got into it as drivers from karting, there has never been a big premium in recent years - ever since the weight of the car included the driver - to penalize heavy drivers.

"To suddenly introduce that for next year is very unfortunate." Yahoo Eurosport UK

Ross Brawn will decide F1 future next summer
Ross Brawn says he will take a sabbatical and look at his options next summer once he leaves Mercedes at the end of this year.

Brawn announced he was leaving Mercedes last week and has been linked to several teams, including Ferrari and Williams. However, Brawn says he is in no rush to make a decision and will assess his options next year.

"I've got to take a break for a while, and see how things pan out," he told the Mirror. "I'll take a few months off, perhaps go and see a few more football games. Maybe around the summer time I'll decide what's happening, it's a sabbatical."

Brawn hinted that he was keen to return to F1 but stressed that nothing had been set in stone.

"I think if I get involved again in motorsport it will be Formula One, but I'm very open minded," he added. "I think it depends what motivates me, and what people offer, so we'll see what happens this summer."

Jackie Stewart ends 45-year relationship with IMG
Triple world champion Jackie Stewart has ended one of the longest personal business relationships in Formula One by moving to Just Marketing International after 45 years with IMG.

"I am joining JMI," the Scot, 74, told Reuters before attending the annual Autosport awards on Sunday night.

"I've been with IMG since 1968. Mark (McCormack) signed me up and they've done very well for me over the years but they are not in Formula One and haven't been in Formula One now for a good long time.

"The money that Jackie Stewart can deliver is in Formula One or associated with Formula One," he added.

JMI said they will also represent the commercial interests of Austrian triple world champion Niki Lauda, non-executive director of the Mercedes team.

American lawyer McCormack, who died in 2003, founded the International Management Group (IMG) in 1960. Golfer Arnold Palmer was his first client.

Stewart, who won his championships in 1969, 1971 and 1973, is a familiar figure in the grand prix paddock and has long-standing relationships with a number of top brands.

He has also been working with Lotus F1 team owners Genii, but that contract runs out at the end of the year.

Unlisted JMI, founded by American former professional driver Zak Brown, was acquired by British sports marketing group Chime Communications PLC in October for $71 million.

They arrange sponsorship, hospitality and rights deals in F1, NASCAR and IndyCar. Four time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon is also on their books.

"I am much more interested in the business side than I am on the motor racing side," Stewart added.

"So it makes sense, at this time, with the connections I have and the access I have, to be with a company that also has that same access," said Stewart. Gotoday.com/Reuters

Ferrari feedback unearths $729m Red Bull budget error
Last week Ferrari's infamous Horse Whisperer reappeared with a small article that left many scratching their heads in confusion.

The piece was entitled 'Slow on the uptake with summer blunders' and it stated that "when the championship finishes, the moment arrives to take stock. If it's enough in sport to look at the points standings, in business some trust in summer valuations, even if they are carried out under a parasol. For that reason, months later, a reconstruction of the budgets of Formula 1 teams developed by an Autosport colleague has transformed itself into journalistic fact. It's a pity that the cited figures are largely fantasy and they can draw even distinguished newspapers into conclusions that are wildly erroneous."

When Pitpass editor Chris Balfe saw the Horse Whisperer's piece he asked business editor Christian Sylt to see what all the fuss was about. He soon found follow-up reports saying that the Autosport article in question was called 'The true cost of Formula 1' and was published in print and on its website on 31 August. It fits Ferrari's description as the article does indeed contain a reconstruction of F1 team budgets and was written several months ago. It claimed that Ferrari has a budget of £250m including engines and although the Italian manufacturer suggests that this is wrong, it is nothing compared to the error that the article makes about this year's champions Red Bull Racing.

Austrian energy drinks company Red Bull owns two F1 teams and they are run by completely different companies. Italian company Scuderia Toro Rosso SpA runs Toro Rosso whilst its flagship team, Red Bull Racing, is run by two UK companies. The author of the Autosport article has read their financial statements, which have been lodged with the UK authority Companies House, however he does not seem to have understood them.

The first of the two companies is Red Bull Racing (RBR) and its financial statements say that its 'principal activity' is "the management of a Formula One motor racing team." The second company is Red Bull Technology (RBT) which owns 100% of RBR. The financial statements for RBT state that "the principal activity of the group is the design, development and manufacture of Formula One racing cars. The principal activity of its subsidiary is the management of a Formula One motor racing team."

RBT is the highest-level company involved with Red Bull Racing within Red Bull itself. We know this because the financial statements show that 100% of the shares in RBT are owned by Red Bull GmbH which is the actual drinks company.

Crucially, RBT's financial statements clearly state that they "consolidate the financial statements of Red Bull Technology limited and its subsidiary undertaking(s)." This is why the financial statements refer to RBT as "the group."

You don't have to be a financial genius to find the definition of consolidated in a financial context. Even a standard dictionary gives a pretty good indication. For example, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as to "combine (a number of financial accounts or funds) into a single overall account or set of accounts: (as adjective consolidated)consolidated accounts."

What this means in practice is that the turnover (which is another term for revenue) shown on the consolidated accounts for a company includes that of the subsidiary companies. Accordingly, in simple terms, if company X has turnover of $1.6m and is owned by company Y, which itself has turnover of $3.2m, then the consolidated accounts for company Y will show turnover of $4.8m.

As the turnover shown on RBT's financial statements is consolidated it already includes the turnover of RBR. Adding RBR's turnover to this again would be completely inaccurate as it would be duplicating it. However, this is precisely what is done by Autosport.

The reconstruction of Red Bull Racing's latest budget involves combining the 2011 turnover of RBR and RBT and then adding 10% for good measure. The article states that "Companies House records RBT's 2011 turnover as $353m (declared profits $6.5m), while RBR registered a bottom line of $1.05B on $290m spend. Adding 10 per cent for economics (2010/11 turnover increased by double that after RBR withdrew from FOTA/RRA activities) provides a global spend of $730m."

Most worrying of all is that Autosport then draws conclusions about the team's budget from this error. It claims that Red Bull Racing's "actual spend... lies between RBT's turnover and the total, pointing to $410m annually for the overall RBT/RBR F1 operation." Given that this is based on an error it is not surprising that the conclusion too is flawed. As previously stated, RBT is the highest-level company involved with Red Bull Racing within Red Bull itself. Accordingly, it is hard to see how Red Bull Racing's "actual spend" could be higher than that of RBT.

Sylt says that the catalogue of errors in the article did not surprise him. The author is an industrial engineer by training who later moved into journalism and at the same time set up a travel company offering trips to F1 races. Given the complexity of the subject it is no surprise that mistakes are made by writers who don't have a long track record purely writing about the business of F1. The error simply muddies the waters of reporting on the business of the sport and should really have been weeded out by Autosport's group F1 editor Jonathan Noble. Clearly it has gone too far when Ferrari itself has to step in.

It is far from the first time that the author has made a significant blunder when writing about the business side of F1. Earlier this year Pitpass wrote a piece entitled 'Why there will be no change to F1 if the Concorde Agreement isn't signed' which referred to a report about a meeting between F1's boss Bernie Ecclestone, Ferrari, Red Bull Racing, Mercedes and McLaren. The report said that they met "with the main discussion point being the need for a Concorde Agreement; whether F1 without Concorde - and, by extension, without FIA involvement - is viable. Thus the FIA could effectively lose control of its own championship, which would in future be known not as the 'FIA Formula 1 World Championship', but simply as the 'Formula 1 Championship'."

As Pitpass pointed out, F1 was without the Concorde, the contract which commits the teams to race, for all of 2008 and half of 2009 yet the FIA did not "effectively lose control of its own championship" and the sport did not lose the FIA from its title.

The report even seemed to contain flaws with basic facts about the takeover of F1 by current controlling shareholder, the private equity firm CVC. It claimed that "when the teams in the early naughties threatened to set up their own breakaway series unless their demands (75 per cent of revenues) were met, CVC Capital Partners... agreed to a broad fifty-fifty split." CVC only agreed to buy F1 in November 2005 so how could it have agreed to a deal with the teams when they threatened to break away in the early naughties? It is the kind of head-scratcher which spurred Ferrari to take action and it has at last set the record straight in a very public way. Pitpass.com

Vettel and Webber put helmets up for auction
Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have each donated a helmet from a podium-win race in the 2013 Formula One season to raise money for spinal cord injury charity Wings for Life at a Bonhams Auction on 9th December.

Sebastian has chosen a helmet worn at the 2013 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. In this memorable race - his first home victory since he started in Formula One – Vettel took race lead from turn one and finished on top of the podium. Uniquely designed for each race, this signed and glittering helmet reflects Germany’s national colors of black, red and gold.

Mark Webber has chosen two helmets, one worn at the 2013 Italian Grand Prix in Monza where he finished on the podium in third. The other was worn at the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix in Spa where he finished in fifth place. Mark has also donated a signed and worn Alpinestars race suit for the auction. This season Mark Webber announced his retirement from Formula One after 12 years of competing. Webber made his debut in 2002 with Minardi and has been with Red Bull Racing since 2007.

Both lots will be sold to the highest bidder at a live auction as part of Bonhams’ traditional end of year sale of Collectors’ Motor Cars and Automobilia in Oxford, UK. Buyers can bid online, by telephone or attend the event in person. 100% of the money raised from these unique Formula One items will go directly towards cutting-edge research aimed at finding a cure for spinal cord injury.

Wings for Life is the title charity partner of Infiniti Red Bull Racing and their logo features on both Red Bull Racing cars. Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, along with Formula One legend David Coulthard, are also ambassadors for the Wings for Life charity.

Three times Formula One World Champion and Wings for Life ambassador Sebastian Vettel commented: This is one of my favorite helmet designs from this season and it goes without saying that this was one of the most special races for me – my first ever home win. Just as the race meant a lot to me, Wings for Life does too and it’s my pleasure to donate this signed and worn helmet for auction. I hope it raises a lot of money for their vital spinal research projects.

Pressure on Paddy Lowe and Toto Wolff to replace Ross Brawn
Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda says the pressure is on Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe to fill the gap left by departing team principal Ross Brawn next year.

Last week Mercedes announced Brawn would be leaving at the end of the year, handing over his responsibilities to Lowe, executive director (technical), and Wolff, executive director (business). After a year in which Mercedes improved dramatically on its 2012 results, Lauda said Lowe and Wolff have a lot to live up to.

"Now Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe, and Paddy especially on the technical side, have to fill this big hole he [Brawn] has left," he was quoted by Reuters. "Don't worry, I am going to kick them like you do not believe... and hopefully we can keep on going."

Lauda admitted he wanted Brawn to stay at the team for another year and revealed that he would continue as a consultant until he finds a job elsewhere.

"I'm very sad about it because I wanted him to stay another year," he added. "But he says he wants to go fishing. So I really tried hard but he stays a consultant to me which I think is very good and important.

"He says he wants a rest. So it's very simple. I think he will not go in pension [retirement], this is clear. I think he will come back, I don't know with the FIA or whatever he likes to do." ESPN F1

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