British prime minister visits McLaren factory

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: British prime minister David Cameron calls F1 “an incredible British success story”.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Cameron hails F1 as British success story (Reuters)

“Prime minister David Cameron held up Formula One as ‘an incredible British success story’ on Thursday after formally opening McLaren’s new sportscar factory next to the Grand Prix team’s headquarters.”

McLaren must be F1’s frontrunners next season, says Martin Whitmarsh (The Guardian)

“We had a slow start this year, so we have to get out of the blocks quickly and effectively at the start of next year to make sure we are winning races straightaway.”

Ron Dennis speaks at the official opening of the McLaren Production Centre (McLaren)

“When the international motor racing season kicks off early next year, another McLaren company, McLaren Electronic Systems, will be in a unique position. Because every single car in the world’s three premier motor racing series – in other words every single car in Formula 1, every single car in the IndyCar series and every single car in the most popular and successful racing series in the United States, NASCAR – will all be using engine control units made here in Woking. McLaren Electronic Systems is the world leader in the field of automotive electronic control systems for motorsport.”

US GP’s comeback delayed until 2013 (The Independent)

Owner of Full Throttle Productions Tavo Hellmund: “Mr Ecclestone has been incredibly patient with the challenges here in Austin. Full Throttle Productions has worked tirelessly to bring the Formula One United States Grand Prix to Austin. It is now the responsibility of the Circuit of the Americas to make this project happen before Mr Ecclestone’s patience runs out.”

Comptroller joins list of Austin F1 sceptics (Austin-American Statesman)

“We will not be disbursing money in advance. By the way, it’s not a problem for them, I don’t think. That’s not a sticking point for them. I don’t think the state has any part to play in whatever their controversies are, which I don’t know what they are. I really don’t.”

Landowners near F1 track worried (Kxan via YouTube)

COTA: We’re happy to wait for 2013 (Adam Cooper)

COTA boss Steve Sexton: “We have been excited for and working towards a 2012 United States Grand Prix race and now understand that Mr. Ecclestone is interested in moving the Austin race to 2013. We know the US market is important to the teams and their sponsors and 2013 certainly allows time for the Circuit of The Americas to be ready.??

Mark Webber says drivers want DRS rethink (BBC)

Webber says drivers want the use of DRS to be restricted in practice and qualifying as it is in the races. But without the incentive to run longer gear ratios for qualifying, will the system still provide any benefit for overtaking in the race?

Gutierrez: Crash all part of learning (Autosport)

“I’ve driven the F1 car four times before and not crashed, so there’s always a first time. To know the limit, you have to. It was because of a mistake with the DRS.”

Sutil hopeful of Force India stay in 2012 (Daily Mail)

[Adrian] Sutil’s manager, Manfred Zimmermann, reckons there’s every chance Sutil will begin a sixth season with Force India next year.”

BIC gets an award (The Telegraph Calcutta)

“Buddh International Circuit (BIC), which played host to India’s first Formula One Grand Prix on October 30, has been awarded the ‘Motorsport Facility of the Year’ award at the Professional Motorsport World Expo 2011, held in Cologne, Germany.”

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Comment of the day

Thoughts from Portugoose on this year’s young driver test line-up:

I find it rather odd that McLaren picked Turvey and Paffet over Kevin Magnussen. The young Dane is part of their young driver development scheme, and he also had a brilliant second half to his British Formula 3 season which was marred by an unusually high amount of mechanical failures.

For the next young driver’s test, I’d really like to see Gravity-backed Richie Stanaway test for Renault instead of Charouz. Charouz is not a completely bad driver; his impressive LMS record proves this. However, since he returned to open-wheel racing, he hasn’t really achieved much, especially in the World Series by Renault. Essentially, his whole career has been driven by his father, who runs the successful Charouz Racing System team.

Chilton and the two Venezuelans, based on their GP2 records, did not deserve their runs. Leimer, Coletti, Razia, Clos and Turvey have been too average in GP2. That being said, they do have potential.

Based on Formula Renault 3.5 results, Charouz and Berthon did not deserve the tests they receive, although Berthon had a strong rookie season in the series.

On the flipside, Ceccon, Vergne, Bianchi, Korjus, Pic, Bottas, Bortolotti, Wickens, and to an extent, Gutierrez and Bird, all deserved the tests as they have impressed this year in their respective categories.

All in all, money talks. If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be any Venezuelans participating and I believe we’d see the likes of Felipe Nasr, Albert Costa, and Roberto Merhi in Formula One cars.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Matthew H!

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On this day in F1

Takuma Sato won the Macau F3 Grand Prix ten years ago today. He had already signed with Jordan to make his F1 debut the following season.

Images © McLaren

Author information

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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55 comments on “British prime minister visits McLaren factory”

  1. Some people are claiming that PDVSA’s sponsorship of Williams is illegal under Venezuelan law, which states that public money cannot be spent without government approval, and nobody seems to be able to produce the contract between PDVSA and Williams. However, a Venezuelan newspaper has since published details of the contract, which reveals two very interesting details: firstly, that PDVSA are paying Williams between twenty and twenty-eight million pounds this year along (which is set to increase to somewhere around thirty million in 2012); and secondly, that PDVSA has an unprecendented level of control within the team – they can nominate a list of drivers to Williams (which must be done by October 15), and Williams are obligated to consider them when assessing their driver line-up for the next year (though they are not obligated to take them if they feel those drivers are not suitable).

    1. Of course is ilegal, remember that Venezuela is ruled by a dictator and he manAge the money as he wants.

      How can you use the money of a country to buy a sit in F1?

      1. Belive it or not, Chavez was elected democratically by the Venezuelan people.

        1. Yes, back in 1999. Since then every time the media says something agains him he close them down… he had arrested members of the rival political parties. .. Everyone who dares to cross him is in danger to get arrested or killed…

          1. Since then every time the media says something agains him he close them down

            Oi, you’d be surprised just how fast ITV would be locked down if they were trying to get their viewers to use violence against the British gouvernment.

          2. @klon – People are quick to criticise Chavez because he is classified as a dictator, probably because they don’t want Formula 1’s reputation tarnished. And while there are issues in Venezuela, it doesn’t even register on the “Outposts of Tyrrany”, the six countries – Cuba, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Myanmar (since disbanded; with Qaddafi’s fall from power, Syria is probably the best replacement), Iran and North Korea – rated as the most totalitarian outposts. In fact, I’d say most of Chavez’s criticisms come from the way he opposes America’s foreign policy rather than any critical problems in the country.

          3. Iran is only there because they wont bend over the the US.

        2. @Fer no.65. Believe it or not, not all “democracies” are democratic.

          I’m from, and I live in Angola so, I know a thing or two about it.

          1. @ PM, where did you get your list from, the bumper book of naughty people according to the good ol’US of A?

    2. Great find PM, wouldn’t mind seeing that list of drivers they nominate!

      Guess there had to be some catch in a driver who brings that much money and is half decent too when you consider he is in his rookie year.

      1. Guess there had to be some catch in a driver who brings that much money and is half decent too when you consider he is in his rookie year.

        From the sounds of things, Williams only have to assess each of the drivers PDVSA recommends (which they may or may not do; I haven’t heard about them recommending anyone this year). They’re under no obligation to sign those drivers up, they’re free to find their own drivers without PDVSA’s input and – I think – PDVSA cannot veto any driver Williams find of their own accord.

        It’s a small price to pay for $225 million over five years.

        1. If them figures are anywhere near right Hulkenburg never stood a chance of keeping his seat if they wanted to keep Rubens. And the thing is from what I remember Williams(probably Parr!) saying Maldonado replacing Hulk wasn’t about money!! After all like $225 million is nothing!!

          1. If them figures are anywhere near right Hulkenburg never stood a chance of keeping his seat if they wanted to keep Rubens.

            Only if you assume Hulkenberg was asked to find the same amount of money as Maldonado has brought to the team.

        2. If they know anything about Formula 1 it’d be stupid for Raikkonen not to have crept into that list or at have least been on there in the first place…

          1. Actaully, I believe PDVSA would have their own agenda. They are, after all, a Venezuelan company; most of their interests are in South America. So I think they would use their power to draw attention to talented drivers from South America. PDVSA are a sponsor, and like all sponsors, they have to look out for their own interests. I very much doubt that Kimi Raikkonen was on their list of drivers (assuming they submitted one at all – they don’t have to suggest drivers if they do not want to), especially given Raikkonen’s dislike of PR work. And like I said, Williams are under no obligation to run a driver suggested by PDVSA, and nor can PDVSA prevent Williams from running a driver who was not on their list.

          2. @PM
            Maybe so, but having a previous champion in the car would definitely raise its profile

        3. With Valtteri Bottas’ comments that he is “ready” for Formula 1, the current conspiracy theory among Raikkonen fans is that Williams will drop PDVSA and Maldonado at the end of the year, which is why they are looking for new sponsors in the Middle East. Of course, most of this is born out of the assumption that Raikkonen will race for Williams, so Maldonado has to go to make way for Bottas.

          Unless we somehow end up with three-car teams in 2012.

          1. Despite Chavez being vocal against capitalism, he loves oil and dollars and PVDSA is very strong in the US to where it exports a huge amount of crude oil and holds interests in some refineries.

    3. It is hardly unprecedented that a major sponsor has significant influence over the driver line-up. It has been that way ever since sponsorship started to have a significant role in Formula 1.

      1. @Huron.. yes but wouldn’t have thought so much that they nominate a list of drivers for a team although the fact that Williams can also get there own makes it not seem so bad.

        1. It is still hardly unprecedented. It is surprising that someone that comments to the point of absurdity about F1 doesn’t know that.

          Funny that….makes one wonder.

    4. I did post à link to tha Same contract yesterday, at tha article on young drivers and money. However, tha link I provided had à reply from Williams in it: they denied it being real @Prisoner monkeys

      1. That’s funny, @verstappen – when asked by Autosport, Williams declined to comment.

        1. Well @Prisoner_Monkeys that is different. They declined to comment on those questions in parliament, while that blogpost I linked to states that Williams said that this contract is not their (final?) contract.
          So two different things. But indeed, there’s something going on on on…

    5. You mean that a state-owned company cannot spend money without state approvall? OK then.

      Whatever governance chicanery formally blurs the distinction, everyone knows that Chavez controls the state and all of its organs.

      Ergo, Pastor Maldonado is a state employee/contractor of Venezuela.

      As far as Chavez not being on the very lists of the most dastardly dicators, it may have something to do with the fact that the U.S. relies on his oil supplies, about 10 percent of the U.S. total, and is even more important than that as none of it passes through the Persian Gulf. Nonetheless, PDVSA was recently punished by the U.S. for violating Iran petroleum sanctions, which are mirrored by EU and UN sanctions. CITGO only escapes because of the affiliate-loophole in the U.S. law.

      Williams should be careful that it’s dealings in PDVSA monies does not now bring it afoul of international or U.S. sanctions against Iran.

      Williams’s submission to PDVSA and Chavez really marks the sad extent of their downfall.

  2. Comment of the day is epic – how do you know so much?!

    1. He eats his Weet-Bix and pays attention in class. Sorry Cornflakes. Oh my, that was terrible!

      But I believe he’s only my age or thereabouts, which makes it even more terrifying that he knows so much!

      1. Or maybe he’s just been paying attention to a lot of the junior series. I know I’d be watching GP2 and GP3 with keen interest if they were broadcast here in Australia.

        1. @prisoner-monkeya Similarly so with the UK. I know enough to get by.

    2. Agreed; Epic in his knowledge of younger drivers. However, are McLaren keeping Paffet, simply for the experience? I know it’s called ‘Young’ Test Drivers, but in the end it’s testing time on track, that they are limited too. Why not get the valuable data and try some proper testing out. They certainly do not need a new driver at the moment.

      1. Thanks, @Fixy! Cheers!

  3. I’m interested to see what @portugoose thinks of the young drivers now that they’ve had their runs. Some of them clearly wouldn’t have been there if the teams decided their line-ups based on their talent alone, but others, I think, surprised – like I said yesterday, I was impressed by Nathanael Berthon, who was a late addition to Hispania’s line-up and had one of the smallest programs, and still managed to get within seven-tenths of a second of Vitantonio Liuzzi’s qualifying time. Others, I was considerably less impressed by; Stefano Coletti was a clean second adrift of Kevin Ceccon, who himself was a second and a half slower than Jaime Alguersuari’s qualfying run. Likewise Alexander Rossi, two-tenths of a second adrift of Rodolfo Gonzalez, who is already a little out of his depth in GP2.

    1. Hooray, COTD!

      Anyways, I never thought I’d be saying this, but Gonzalez impressed me most. Sure, it’s hard to judge the speed of these drivers due to the different programmes/parts the teams run, but it seems he had some genuine pace….. or maybe it seemed like he did as everyone had low expectations for him due to his poor GP2 record. Berthon was also quite impressive; he displayed the potential he showed from his debut WSR series.

      Charouz was disappointing, but that was expected. Coletti and Pic left something to be desired, while Ceccon seemed to be very quick, building from the solid result from the GP2 final.

  4. I used to get confused when I watch F3 and the commentator says “Felipe Nasr”. He might even drive at the Daytona 24 Hours next year.

  5. About Webber and DRS, I got this crazy theory where he wants DRS banned from parctice and qualifying because he can´t used as other drivers do.

    I like DRS during qualifying, if it is usless during the race is up for debate but during qualifying is very exciting to watch how some drivers use it and how and when…

    1. I agree entirely. If we must have DRS (I was skeptical, but think its been good) then it should remain as it is for practice and Qualifying.

      It separates the men from the boys, brings out driver skill / decision making and can affect car set up (gearing, downforce levels). I personally wouldn’t want to see the removal of one of the few variables left.

      1. Exactly. No need to ban it’s use. IF a driver doesn’t feel comfortable using it then don’t use it. But some drivers will feel comfortable using it so let them do so.

        Its like putting speed limits on corners because someone deems a faster apex speed to be dangerous.

  6. >Mark Webber says drivers want DRS rethink

    And JUST when I thought somebody had finally said that DRS should go…

    >ay mates let’s just use them only in the drs zone in practice and quali too, mates

    Damn it.

    1. Reading the article sounds like he’s got a pretty tough time sugar coating his opinion regarding DRS. I think he flat out hates it, and I wouldn’t be surprised most drivers do.

      1. I did get Same impression

  7. I won the Macau GP? why thankyou :)

  8. Austin will delay their race until 2013 if they have to, “conceding for the first time that next year’s race is probably not going to happen”.

    This twentieth race is proving to be something of a bogie for Bernie. First Bahrain gets pulled, now Austin is tied up in red tape. What next?

    1. And according to this opinion piece, the whole thing might be a conspiracy to squeeze Tavo Hellmund out of his position:

      The scuttlebutt I hear from Austin insiders is that COTA purposely failed to provide the necessary letters of credit due to their falling out with Hellmund. It was well known within the organization that this failure would lead to a cancellation of the contract, and it was known that Hellmund could not fund the fee requirements without their help. It appears that they let the cancellation happen so that they could enter into a contract with FOM that did not include Hellmund. I don’t know if this is fact or fiction.

  9. As the Austin GP organizers haven’t been able to get their act together this year, I don’t see the reason why they should be able to make it work for 2013, sadly. The only difference I can see is that they have to wait a year longer for any return on their investment, in addition to the fact that the Texan authorities now only consider subsidizing the event if it has taken place successfully, rather than in advance.

    If it doesn’t go ahead, I would find it a great shame, not in the least because the track layout looks more exciting to me than the one in New Jersey (and a nice backdrop doesn’t imply exciting racing – just look at all the criticism Abu Dhabi has had to endure).

    1. Think of the jobs too. I always feel for construction workers during these kinds of situations.

      1. Whats surpriseme the most is how blindly people got in to this bussiness.

        I mean, Tavo got parners that don´t have the money.

        And this woman Combs to approve US$25000000.00 with out being presented with a plan on how the project will develop, and how ot will be founded… I don´t see this kind of inefficiency very often…

  10. The implications of the CoTA situation are awful. The video about the landowners is no doubt causing damage to F1’s reputation. It is of course a loss to F1 if the race is lost but it will move on. I hope Texans can do the same and they aren’t left in trouble.

  11. Nooooooo!!!! Hamilton and Cameron! Kill me now!

  12. I dunno if you picked up this story about “fun green vehicles from an F1 designer” –

  13. PM hails F1 whilst BBC axe races???

    why is there not 100,000 signatures on the e-pettition?
    why is there not a facebook/twitter campaign?
    why are there not protests in London?
    why does Keith not have a specific section about it on this site?
    why is it is the only site seeming to give a dam?

    come on people, join the fight back!

    1. Because the fact is, there’s nothing we can do, it’s a done deal. BBC had to make cuts, it’s tough for us UK viewers, but we gotta just deal with it.

      1. However the government could easily rectify this.

        The government has a list of sports and or sporting events that are protected, and as such have to be shown on free to air tv.

        They make this list based on if they believe it to be a national interest, or a British industry/institution.

        How he can say it’s a British success story, but doesn’t think it deserves protected status is beyond me.

        1. @kest I really, really doubt that David Cameron was part of that selection process. I don’t even think he was in power when that decision was made. I doubt it’s top of his agenda right now.

          Perhaps it doesn’t affect that many of us?

Comments are closed.