F1 Fanatic round-up: 30/9/2010

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Interesting developments in the 2007 ‘spygate’ episode and more bad news on Korea in today’s round-up:


Motor racing-Former Ferrari engineer Stepney sentenced (Reuters)

“Local media reported that Stepney was sentenced on Wednesday to a year and eight months in prison and handed a 600 euro ($817) fine. Italy’s legal system means he is highly unlikely to serve any time in jail.”

Foreign Media Question F1 Korea Grand Prix (Dong-a Ilbo)

“This is not the first time that European media have attacked the F1 Korean Grand Prix. The focus was repeated delays in the completion of the racetrack originally set for August. Negative reporting on the event, however, was also been affected in large part by misinformation about the construction of the speedway, which has been communicated overseas. The paving of the Korea International Circuit racetrack for a second layer has been completed, with only the final layer yet to be paved.”

Unfall bei den Bauarbeiten in Yeongam (Motorsport Total, German)

Pictures show more problems at the Korean International Circuit construction site. Perhaps these are a creation of the wicked “foreign media” too…

Singapore spectacle vs Korean debacle (TopCar)

“Although the FIA’s own procedure states track inspections should be undertaken at least 90 days prior to a newly inscribed a Formula 1 event, the governing body has twice postponed the crucial inspection. A new date has now been set: 11 October, or less than a fortnight before the event. This appears in conflict with the contents of Art 3.4 of App L of the FIA’s International Sporting Code.”

Brawn: The ‘true Schumi’ set to return (ITV-F1)

"Next year we expect the Pirelli tyres will work better for Michael’s driving style and only then will we know if Nico really is quicker than Michael."

Klien: I proved that I was quick (F1 Pulse)

“We are checking the possibility with teams who have a seat left for next year. The whole weekend in the car helped to show [my performance] to get a better chance for next year to get a drive.”

Comment of the day

Icthyes sticks up for Lewis Hamilton after his recent troubles:

I was watching an old documentary about Hamilton from after the 2008 season. In it Sir Stirling Moss said how in all 525 races (of all formulae) he’d been in, for all the great drivers he saw, in his time he only ever saw two or three actual "racers".

Being a racer is what got Hamilton where he is today. Looking back you can point to a few times where being more cautious would have helped him. But that’s hindsight. We’re not the ones trying to take a corner at speeds that would be impossible in the cars we drive. How many times in our lives have we wished we had been more bold in a situation, or not so rash in another, but we acted as we did because it was in accordance with our nature?

There will always be a long queue of people wanting to beat up Hamilton for their own various agenda or desires. As a fan, I’m not going to start demanding things of him just because we know better after the event.

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today. If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Alain Prost kept his championship chances alive by winning the Spanish Grand Prix on this day in 1990. Above is an onboard lap of him driving his Ferrari 641 at the track.

His rival Ayrton Senna retired with a damaged radiator. That left Senna leading Prost by 78 points to 69 with two races remaining. But the points system of the time made the situation rather more complicated.

Drivers could only count their 11 best results of the 16 races, and with the two championship protagonists each having score in 11 earlier races, any further points scores would mean them having to drop their lowest score so far. Prost would only have to lose two points (fifth place) whereas Senna would drop four (third place).

If that all sounds unnecessarily complicated, it was. Thankfully the “best results count” was dropped at the end of the year. An unexplored explanation for Senna violently ramming Prost out of the next race in Japan to win the title was that maths was doing his head in.

Read more: Think the new F1 points system is weird? We’ve seen much stranger than that??

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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67 comments on “F1 Fanatic round-up: 30/9/2010”

  1. A good alternative to Yeongam would be Motorland Aragón. It seems Santander is available to pay 17 of the 22 milions needed for making the Grand Prix.

    1. Aragon have no interest in hosting the race. Bernie Ecclestone approached them months ago, and they turned him down.

      Even if they were willing, it would be impossible. The final inspection for the Korean circuit will take place on October 11th, the day after the Japanese Grand Prix and just two weeks before the race is due to be run. The teams will actually need to be in Korea on the Wednesday before the race at the very earliest, since they use Thursday to set themselves up in the paddock before free practice begins on the Friday.

      That means there will be just one week after the inspection for an alternate venue to be organised, and most of the teams will already have started on their way to Korea by then. They leave as soon as possible because they need to fly their equipment across the Sea of Japan. But if Korea doesn’t go ahead, you expect Bernie Ecclestone to be able to arrange an alternative round of the championship on the other side of the world and have all the teams get there in time to race in just seven days? I’m sorry, but that’s just totally unfeasible. It’s unlikely Ecclestone would be able to arrange a second race at Suzuka or Shanghai, let alone one at a circuit so far around the world that if the teams went any further, they’d start coming back.

      If Korea is cancelled, there won’t be an alternative race. There will just be a four-week break before Brazil.

      1. What’s worrying is that this has been coming a while now and no plans for a back-up were made. Given that FOM will pocket the Korean money anyway, plus compensation if it doesn’t go ahead, they could have made plans to hold another GP at Fuji (or somewhere else) and allowed the organisers to keep whatever money they earned from the extra ticket sales.

        1. In the old days they used to have a race “on reserve” – Jerez filled in for Argentina in 1994 and Portugal in 1997. Nowadays I suppose no circuit would be willing to make the required safety/facility upgrades on the off-chance that they might get a Grand Prix. Besides, as PM says, any replacement Grand Prix in Europe would be completely impractical for the purposes of replacing Korea.

          1. And they couldn’t do it after Abu Dhabi because they have a deal to hold the last round.

            Double-header at Interlagos, I say.

        2. Wouldn’t work Ichthys. Any circuit worth the name of ‘full international standard’ would need several weeks to prepare for the switch.
          Preparations cost a great deal of money. Paying lots of people mainly. A lot more people than you’d normally use because of the time constraints…and then
          …you get a nice call from Ecclestone to say..’sorry guys, the Koreans have finally pulled their finger out and got the job done…so we won’t be needing you ….sorry an’all that ! ‘

          Go down a real bomb at the next circuit board meeting wouldn’t it ?

          1. About the only plausible back-up circuit would be Paul Ricard (because Eccelstone owns it and wouldn’t have to deal with the above problem) but that would need at least a month to get ready I’d have thought.

            Also, Bernie isn’t largely in favour of doing anything that might cost him money.

        3. Is it confirmed that there is no back up race in the event that the Korean Grand Prix doesn’t happen. There are plenty of other circuits besides Motorland Aragón.

          The way I see it is that the FOM makes part of it’s money from circuit fees, but most of it from selling broadcasting rights. So if I was a broadcaster that had paid “x” millions of dollars for rights to broadcast Formula 1 in a certain region, I would be majorly pee’d off if all of a sudden a race drops off the calendar, as I lose my TV advertising dollars, reducing my profit, and then I have to spend more money finding some other programming to fill in the gap.

          So I think if the Korean event is cancelled and there is no replacement there would be so many levels of different organisations seeking compensation for loss of income, that the FOM would really have no option but to have a back up plan.

    2. After Susuka, they should just pop down the island to Fuji. Not that they would, of course.

  2. The FIA must have some faith that Korea is somehow going to come off, since an inspection barely a week ahead of teams arriving won’t really give enough time for any kind of contingency if it doesn’t pass inspection. My guess is that Charlie Whiting will be very forgiving in his final inspection, and that work will continue 24-7 right up until teams start arriving at the track.

    1. Not knowing the details, I would like to think that the track will be ready. For the record I also hoped that USF1 would make the grid in Bahrain, and they would have, except there seemed to be fundamental management issues involved with them. The delays in Korea on the other hand seem to be weather related, and you can’t help bad luck.

      I imagine there would be financial penalties written into the construction contract specifying that the principal contractor would liable to pay the circuit owner damages in the event that the track is not ready on time. I also imagine that these penalties would be so large, that the principal contractor has no other choice but to get it finished on time, or say goodbye to any profit, or even potentially their business, depending on the size of the damages.

      Even though there might be a lot to do; based on the video of Karun Chandhok driving an old Red Bull F1 car around the unfinished circuit last month, it seems like a lot of what needs to be done can be done in parallel to other tasks (excluding the placement of the final layer of asphalt), or tasks could broken down into smaller sections. For instance, the principle contractor might have planned to have 4 crews installing barriers, but if needed could employ 8 crews instead, essentially halving the time required to install the barriers. Similarly they could have crews painting the kerbs whilst different crews install the turf, whilst different crews install the barriers, whilst different crews fit out buildings etc.

    2. They could just all play “F1 2010”. Although it’s only 12-person mutltiplayer, so each team could only have one driver.

      1. Ferrari would approve, but I think HRT might need to haul their guy out of the chair every 15 laps.

        And Virgin’s car would have a power cut 5 laps from the end.

      2. I would love to see Horner explain why he gave it to Vettel and Withmarsh/Dennis having a row over who to put in their car as well.

        Another interesting point would be weather Brawn would be tempted to let Schumi have a go there!

        Or they could just do it in 2 heats and than let the fastest 12 battle it out.
        Alternatively, let the 12 leading drivers get cars of their choice in WDC order (or reversed?) and battle it out!

        Great idea.

  3. All I can say is…thanks! And to the people who commented and praised it after too.

    1. That points system was indeed a headache. At first I sort of liked the idea but in the end became convinced it was silly. Another thing to consider was the discussion over the retroactive application of Bernie’s medals system, giving us a few new champions (Massa and Moss to name two!); many pointed out that, especially with regards to 2008, different rules might have changed drivers’ approaches to races differently.

      But if you retroactively apply the “all scores count” rule to past years, it probably wouldn’t have changed a thing. It also ended up robbing Prost and Hill of another championship, though although that would have reflected their careers better, it would seem odd (if “correct”) had Senna only won two championships.

      An unexplored explanation for Senna violently ramming Prost out of the next race in Japan to win the title was that maths was doing his head in.

      Hahaha! :D

      1. Speaking of the points, I heard one insane suggestion last night that in the event of a racing incident that results in a DNF – like the Hamilton-Webber tangle – then the retiring driver should be given the same points as the driver who was involved in the accident and survived.

        Like I said, insane.

        1. That is rather insane, and would mean that there might be profit in getting yourself kicked out of the race. Plus, it would become impossible to know beforehand how many points are there to be won in a race/over the season.

          1. Trying to go with low fuel, have a shot at the race leader and bag the points. Sounds like a crazy strategy opportunity

  4. That “news report” gives me the impression the race is being held in North Korea, not South Korea.

    Talk about propaganda speak. “The second-layer paving of the Korea International Circuit racetrack has been completed, with only the final layer yet to be paved.”

    That makes it sound like putting the final layer of asphalt on a race track is no big deal.

    Living in Japan, I can guarantee you that there are a bunch of ultra nationalist Japanese nutjobs reveling in this.

    1. your first sentence was what i was going to say, word for word.

    2. It’s an attempt at face saving (sorry, but Northeast Asians culturally tend to be a lot more uptight about this than us Southeast Asians), that’s what it is.

      Just like the Toyota and Honda withdrawals from F1 over the last few years, so I don’t think that said nutjobs in Japan have anything to be proud of either.

    3. Haha I thought that too! Capitalist propaganda… Interesting that the Japanese are happy to see their neighbours fail.

      1. Many Asians have the same low-level hatred for their neighbours that many Europeans have for theirs.

        Think about the way your grandparents talk about the French and Germans and you’ve got a good idea how many of the older generations of Chinese, Japanese and Korean people think about each other.

        If the French were in this position many people in Britain and Germany would be relishing the chance to gloat and sneer at them and the mainstream press would be full of xenophobic comments regarding the attitude and work ethic of the average Frenchman.

  5. So what’s going to happen if the Korean Grand Prix gets cancelled? Will we have to wait an entire month for the last two grands prix? If its decided to have a race elsewhere, how quickly can accomodations for the teams and travelling fans be rearranged? And how much would the replacement venue have to pay Bernie?

    1. There will not be an alternative round. There won’t be enough time to organise one, and it will be too expensive to re-route everything on such short notice.

    2. We will have to wait the month out.

      Can you really see Bernie organising a extra race at short notice in the interests of the fans? I’m sure he could if he wanted to, he has that sort of power….

      1. In a week?

        Sorry, not even Bernie could manage that.

  6. Icythes – great comment. At the time of the crash my thoughts – with hindsight – were why didn’t you hold back? But your comments are spot on – this is why I’m a massive fan of Hamilton!!

    He actually made the pass in my opinion, but Webber was too late on the brakes (again).

  7. What will happen if there won’t be any Korean GP? will we have 18 races or will we have an alternative for that?

    1. Depends, where nearby could host an F1 race?

      China? Malysia? Japan? I hope they make a call in Japan and if need be, move the race to Fuji. Less travel required, equipment already present in Japan however this would depend on them being able to host it obviously.

      1. Well, PM’s made it clear why he thinks it’s impossible but, in the area, there is the Fuji circuit, Bejing International, Sepang International and of course the whole grid could just stay at Suzuka.

        It is however highly unlikley that any rearranging will go ahead. No one would turn up for a start.

  8. Good luck to Klien in getting a race drive next year, I personally would love to see him racing in f1 again and out qualifying Bruno in the HRT last weekend by 1.5 seconds spoke volumes about the talent he has in f1..

    1. If Jarno goes, maybe Klien will end up at Lotus?

      1. Makes sense scribel

  9. Ross Brawn claiming that Schumacher isn’t able to adapt his driving style to suit the tyres, is a joke. I mean the guy is a seven time world champion! Shouldn’t champions be able to adjust to changes? I’m think maybe Schumacher just doesn’t have what it takes anymore.

    What will Mercedes do next year if Rosberg is quicker on the Pirellis, will it be a case of the Pirellis are not suited to Schumacher’s style. Will F1 have to change tyre suppliers until they find one that suit Schumacher? Or maybe the FIA should write a rule where everyone must use the same control tyre unless your name is Schumacher then your time may develop their own tyres to suit your driving style.

    1. Seriously. Excuses seem to flow fast and free for someone who is supposed to be the “greatest of all time.”

    2. All Ross Brawns comment tells me is that between 2000-2004 Michael Schumacher was in the right seat, at the right time.

      1. That’s a good piece of historical revisionism !

        When Schumacher joined Ferrari they hadn’t won a championship in almost 20 years and had spent more than a decade clogging up the midfield at most GP’s.

        Schumacher joining the team is the only reason they were able to hire the engineers that they did and it was the tireless work of Schumacher and the other Ferrari drivers who tested and developed the car along with the engineers that got the team into a position where they could win anything again.

        Schumacher re-made Ferrari and without him they would still be just another midfield team living on their reputation – and I say this as a lifelong Ferrari fan.

        Schumacher had the option to join whatever team he wanted to when he left Benneton; McLaren and Williams had both offered him a seat in cars that were far better than anything Ferrari could offer him yet he made the choice to help rebuild Ferrari instead of going for the easy option of jumping into an already fast and well developed car that he could win with from the start.

        1. Yup… people tend to forget that piece of history

    3. That’s a bit naive Pinball, how many times do we see drivers improving and struggling as the cars change?

      For examples, Button and Rubens, how by mid 2009 the car was working for Rubens and he could outpace Button.

      Or Kimi and Massa, how in 2008 Massa was on top after Kimi dominated 2007.

      Or Heidfeld and Kubica, Or all the other examples of this.

      To be honest I think you need to be more concerned with this line:
      “and of course Mercedes want to know how and when we will improve,””

      Which is basically telling you that Merc will only be in it for a few years and have about as much love for the sport as a toothpick.

      1. Mike was it you that wanted to know where the F1 memorabilia store was in Melbourne?

        1. Yeah it was!
          Was it called the “the Victorian f1 and special events shop”?

          That’s the best the internet has given me.

    4. Many have touted grooved tyres as the reason for Jacques Villeneuve’s downfall in F1. That and, like Schumacher has, he moved to ever worse teams.

    5. I’m with Pinball on this one. Give MS bespoke tires and he’ll be WC just like the good ol days! Oh and he’ll need to have that Ferrari contract that says he’s numero uno again.

      1. Maybe Mercedes should be working on developing a car for Rosberg as he’s clearly the quickest of the two drivers

  10. Heh heh, ‘Dong’ a Ilbo!

    Sorry, this wasn’t a very insightful intelligent comment…

    1. Ned you’ve outdone yourself…. that picture made me shudder.

      1. “Think unsexy thoughts” :)

    2. Comment of the Day!

  11. Email from Lotus Racing:

    In a bid to alleviate the public confusion surrounding the ongoing matter between Lotus Racing and Proton / Group Lotus, Lotus Racing shareholder and Deputy Team Principal Dato’ Kamarudin Meranun recently had the opportunity to meet Proton Adviser Tun Dr Mahathir. The meeting was to discuss the matter in person and agree a future course of action for Lotus Racing.

    Lotus Racing believes it is acting within its own rights, and as a result of this meeting, the team will now refrain from making any further comments on the matter. This action is upon advice from Tun Dr Mahathir, and it is out of our respect for him that we will act upon his wishes as he has supported us since our inception, and his backing has been invaluable in our growth.

    We are very grateful for having had the opportunity to put forth our case and have complete trust that a fair review will be made, and a decision on the matter will be announced in due course.

    1. Well, it is hopeful that they seem to be talking about it in person. I don’t see either of them gaining much from a legal conflict and power struggle. Nice low-key and to the point email too, well done by Lotus Racing.

      Thanks for posting Keith!

      1. I hope that if they can’t agree on the lotus name they choose some creative alternative name, just like teams used to do with tobacco sponsoring. Team LOcUSt or something like that :P.

  12. They would probably be able to make it to fuji at short notice wouldn’t they?

  13. If we knew well in advance they could have pushed Suzuka back and they could coincide a round with the Bathurst 1000.

    Would love to see the safety improvements needed for that track.

    1. Bathurst? Lots.

      The pit building would need an upgrade for one, with the pit entry and exit reprofiled. Hell Corner would need to be relaxed, or the start/finish line moved back (which wouldn’t work, because the grid would extend around Murray’s corner).

      Serious run-off would need to be added from Griffin’s Bend across to Forrest Elbow. Catch netting would have to be included all alone Reid Park, Sulman Park and McPhillamy. Marshall access would need a major upgrade, as well, particualrly through the esses. Especially for recovery vehicles. Spectator facilities – ie basic grandstands – would also need to be erected.

      But the biggest problem facing Bathurst is its isolation. As Autospolis and TI Aida proved, if a circuit is difficult to access, it can kill the event outright. Bathurst has no major international connections; the easiest way to access the circuit would be to fly the teams into Sydney, then drive for two hours to Bathurst.

      1. Was more of a sarcastic comment but yea, as awesome of a track it is I don’t think much faster than the current classes would be safe on the track. Its one of those tracks that no matter how much is done to ensure safety its a matter if when, not if, in regards to the next major accident.

        I went there a few weeks back and the descent over the top of the mountain is huge. Words cannot put it into perspective

  14. Couldn´t India replace Korea, they just have to do some final paving.

    1. Um, they’ve barely broken earth in India. It’s Korea that has to do the final paving.

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      30th September 2010, 13:40

      According to the report by Jake Jumphries on the BBC site (who visited the Indian track on his way to Singapore), turn 1 currently ends in a lake.
      So, no. They can’t use India.

      That Korean article needs to be read carefully. We all understand the tone, and the fact that it’s rather haltingly translated from Korean but this caught my attention-
      Once the final paving is done, no vehicle can enter before the opening of the F1 championship.

      The Korean operator said it only delayed the paving of the final layer to hold a celebration 50 days before the race Sept. 4-5, and that it is scheduling paving work in line with the final validation set for Oct. 11.

      On the delay of the validation schedule, the operator said, “The date FIA suggested happened to coincide with the Chuseok (Full Moon Harvest) holidays, so we set a new schedule due to fears over traffic delays over the holidays.”


      So if I’ve got that right, the contractor wanted to hold a celebration on the track (Chandock’s demo laps?) before laying the final topping fifty days before the grand prix weekend. But three weeks have passed since the ‘celebration’ and the top surface has allegedly still not been applied.
      And then they persuaded the FIA to re-schedule the final inspection because of holiday weekend traffic?
      I won’t insult the author of the article, but that does not sound very convincing.

      1. You know, India might just work, they always talk about having the cars more real life related. What could be more real life related than amphibious vehicles?

      2. Chris Yu Rhee
        3rd October 2010, 5:44

        You have to read EVERYTHING carefully in Korea.

        Chusok is a major holiday in Korea, and KAVO knew well in advance of the “potential traffic challenges”, as they actually have two national holidays before and after Chusok to allow for people to have enough time to travel. It’s really just an excuse, I’m sure.

        I’ve lived here long enough to “read between the lines”, and have personally done enough commercial construction to know (see my first post from July, 2009) that they were not going to make it on time.

        If they do go ahead with the race in Korea, it WILL be a debacle as the Topcar magazine article title indicates.

        My favorite quote from that article is; “However, in Singapore he (Bernie Ecclestone)for the first time admitted the race could (should?) be in danger…
        In the meantime, though, we head for Japan – an Asian country where, like Singapore, everything works.”

        1. Chris Yu Rhee
          3rd October 2010, 5:50

          I forgot to mention that I love the pictures of the crane tipped over in the Germa article about the Korean Grand Prix.

          That is a BIG crane (probably 50 tons+ lifting ability), and it must have been a really heavy pick (load) to tip the crane over length-wise.

          The blind leading the blind?

  15. Hi, really sorry this isn’t part of the discussion today but I was wondering if anyone could tell me roughly when tickets for the 2011 F1 races will go on sale?

    I’m hoping to buy tickets for the Catalunya weekend as a birthday present for my boyfriend, but will they be available by the end of November?

    Thanks for any help!!

    1. It will vary from venue to venue but some will be selling them already – Silverstone for example:


  16. Was reading about the wacky point systems F1 had in the past, I am surprised to see that none of the championships ended in a tie. In a season where only 11 best results count, it is possible that 2 drivers get the exact same best 11 results. What happens in that case? Do they continue counting the 12th best, 13th best.. results till one guy comes out on top?

  17. jose arellano
    1st October 2010, 0:08


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