Sauber latest team to join FOTA exodus

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Sauber quit FOTA and Jos Verstappen accuses Michael Schumacher of cheating.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Sauber also leaves FOTA (Autosport)

“There are also fresh uncertainties about whether or not Scuderia Toro Rosso has also quit the body – with sources revealing that the Faenza-based team did not send a representative to FOTA’s meeting in London on Tuesday.”

Formula One: Schumacher’s 1994 car illegal, claims former team mate Verstappen (Autoweek)

“There were electronic driver aids. It was never mentioned, but I’m convinced, and when I later asked [team boss] Flavio Briatore he replied ‘Let’s not talk about it.’ So I know enough now.”

For F1 Fanatics who can read Dutch, here’s the original article.

F1 boss confirms deal with Austin F1 organisers has been reached (Austin-American Statesman)

“Bernie Ecclestone confirmed a deal had been reached with Circuit of the Americas investors. ‘Yes there will be a race there. We hope it will be for 10 years.'”

No comment (Joe Saward)

“Within a few hours of the announcement that the FIA has confirmed Formula 1???s return to Bahrain in April, the Bahrain Health Ministry issued a statement saying that a woman who was seriously hurt during recent anti-government protests has died of her injuries.”

2012 FIA Regulations highlights – with James Allison (Renault)

“Recent seasons has seen the FOM nose cameras located in a manner clearly aimed at promoting the performance of the front wing rather than to deliver effective TV pictures. A new article (20.3.4) has been introduced to ensure a minimum standard for the field of view of any nose mounted camera.”

BBC looks to rebuild team after talent raid by Sky (The Guardian)

“The BBC may look to Jonathan Legard or James Allen to fill the void left by Sky Sports’ on-screen talent raid, as it seeks to rebuild its Formula One team virtually from scratch.”

Will Buxton via Twitter

“Speaking to Sky folks at the weekend, they will be sending at least 80 people to every race! Eighty! And in answer to a few of you, Speed send one person (me) to each race, and we use my man Alex, an FOM cameraman, for our filming. And, no… I don’t think Speed viewers get 1/50th of a BBC show, nor 1/80th of a Sky show. We punch above our weight and love what we do.”

Mark Webber: Retire? I can see myself going beyond 2012, claims F1 veteran (Daily Mail)

“Helmut [Marko’s] been quite keen to do one-year contracts, and in a way it hasn’t been too bad for me as well. That’s been his starting point for the last three or four years. That’s the way it’s been, and as always it gets to the middle of the year, we sit down and have a chat about things.”

Follow F1 news as it breaks using the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app.

Comment of the day

Mark Hitchcock on facing a 363 bill to watch the ten F1 races not live or unedited on the BBC next year:

It’s disappointing because there are long-term fans who now can’t afford to watch it. It’s not that we’re choosing not to pay, it’s that there’s no choice to be made.

I’d pay if I could, but I can’t.

That’s why people are getting so angry.
Mark Hitchcock

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Gfasulo, James_mc, Joey-Poey, Koper and Rick DeNatale!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

On this day last year Renault announced they also wished to use the name Lotus in 2011, kicking off the most tedious and wearisome saga of the last 12 months – the Lotus-versus-Lotus row.

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87 comments on “Sauber latest team to join FOTA exodus”

  1. I wonder if Ferrari are giving Sauber and Toro Rosso ultimatums – leave FOTA or we’ll take our engines back!!

    1. Maybe Sauber, Toro Rosso doesn´t need one from Ferrari…

      1. @celeste what do you mean Toro Rosso doesn’t need one?

        1. Since she is the “sister” of RBR, they will just follow the lead of the big one…

    2. That’s a great point. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s been the case!

    3. could be, reminds me of the incident at Jerez with Fontana in the Sauber…

      1. That was 97 wasn’t it?

        Power doesn’t change.

    4. STR’s ultimatum would come from RBR no?

      1. Either/or.

        1. Or both in the worst case!

      2. Considering Marko’s blasting of Alguersari when he held up Vettel in practice; and the ease at which the torro rosso drivers let the red bulls lap them, id say more red bull then ferrari

    5. I think it might rather be the promise of increased development of the mechanical side for Sauber and certainly Red Bull will use their 2 teams to maximum effect, its not as if they are owned by someone different, is it.

  2. Gratz verstappen only 17 years late you plum!

    1. Hè already said that in 1994 or ’95. I remember people saying that was stupid of him, because it cost him his seat.
      And of course there’s that strange software allegation from FIA. They didn’t get all desired data from Benetton, however they eventually got some, which made it clear that there were driving aids – launch control – available via à hidden menu called menu 13. But FIA couldn’t prove it was actually used…(based on data they got).

      But in this day and age, with fierce competition in internet news, combined with short memories, it’s à world story again.

      At dutch forums common sense is that that question was probably triggered by Senna – that movie was shown after Brasil…(Senna said basically tha same).

      1. I’m referring to this story

      2. A hack not discovered in this moment, was not a hack…. just think in Maradona hands goal to England in 1986, was a hack? Be able to make that the referee do not discover the hack in time, is part of the game

      3. Benetton’s explanation was that the systems had been carried over from 1993 and, rather than risk destabilising it by deleting the launch control, etc aspects of the programme, the team simply removed the normal way of accessing it.

        In the end, there was no definitive proof the illegal software had ever been used. The only evidence was circumstantial – Schumacher’s amazing start at Magny Cours, concerns from other drivers, etc. But on their own, they wouldn’t have stood up in court. If I remember correctly, McLaren also had their software checked and were pulled up for still having an automatic gearbox setting still accessible.

        There’s little doubt Verstappen got a pretty raw deal at Benetton in 1994 – it was only his third year of car racing, he was fresh out of F3 and he was parachuted in as a last minute sub for the injured JJ Lehto. Schumacher was by then at the top of his game and Benetton was by then virtually built around him. 1994 ultimately did significant harm to Verstappen’s career, but it’s unlikely we’ll ever know whether it was the result of something sinister or simply a case of too much too soon.

      4. Everbody knew at the time, but it was hard to prove. The way the fia acted was typical fia, they suspended schumacher for three races, trying to make him pay, but at the end he got away with the title doing a new trick. Fia was slow to act. They got cought napping in 1994, but not in 1997.

    2. I think everyone suspected Schumacher of cheating in that year. Some people believe it and some people dont. I dont understand why Verstappen had to bring up this issue after 17 years and still not provide any conclusive evidence.

      1. As @verstappen here says @Todford, the question probably came from the movie Senna, which Dutch RTL showed after the Brazillian GP – great for me, as I hadn’t seen it before.

        But the lack of evidence by him is clear to me: he didn’t have the use of it, is no software engineer, so without team help, or being much more canny, which he isn’t or he wouldn’t have been dropped by Benetton and would have made different choices in F1 after that, he never had the solid proof. He did comment on it before though, as our @verstappen mentions.

    3. But its taken guys in other sports several decades as well to go on the record and admit dope use.

      So why do you mind it took a while before we had someone saying this on the record now. Yes, its not a suprise, but it does confirm what many suspected (or even accepted for fact, see the Ron Dennis interview in the Senna movie), therefore its news.

    4. Unlikely that now someone will take action agains Benetton/Schumacher. Still, it’s a curious piece of information.

      1. I remember the joke at the time was that F1 teams and the FIA suspected Benetton of using illegal traction control but couldn’t prove it, so they went to Silicon Valley in California to find their best computer whiz such that they could police for suspected TC…the answer they got? He already works for Benetton.

        And hence MS got nicknamed ‘rainmaster’ when in fact I believe it was ‘tc master’…I also believe that since many of the crew went from Benetton to Ferrari with MS, MS had illegal TC there too…there were accusations of such at the time.

  3. FOTA is falling apart! To be perfectly honest i don’t know what the means for the sport. If you arn’t in FOTA does that mean the budget cap does not apply to you? What is the advantage of being in or out of FOTA?

    I tend to be more interested in the racing side of things.

    1. Well I think what it does mean is that ferrari redbull sauber and toro rosso can all attempt to utilize exhaust gases to gain performance. As far as i know and i could be very wrong. The placement and spec of the exhaust is obviously an fia stipulation but the agreement or rule about not blowing onto the rear wing or what ever else they may try was from fota. As for the rra it seems redbull and ferrari were already ignoring it.

      1. I don´t think that they will try to use exhaust gases, since it was FIA and nor FOTA who is changing the regulations.

        What does it mean, at least until I can´t understand and if they can´t get an agreement on subjects like the RRA and the Concorde they will simple not follow with what the FOTA is saying… I don´t know if I{m making any sense…

        1. Well i think the fia changed the rules of what is acceptable with exhausts but it’s more of a set of numbers that says this part has to be minimum and maximum x mm,cm,m from this point at x minimum,maximum angle. It’s fota that deals with the “spirit” of the rules and says you’re not allowed to find performance from this or do this.

          Unless of course a device is out right banned like the fduct but as far as i know they never banned exhaust blown diffusers. They simply changed the exhaust rules in such a way that it wouldn’t be possible, even if they have banned ebd’s explicitly exhaust blown wings or what ever else they might come up with wouldn’t count under that rule.

          OFC there is always the possibility everything i have said is wrong we need scarbs he’d know.

          1. It would appear scarbs has already been at it.

            Thanks to verstappen for posting this link yesterday. er not the racing driver our f1 fanatic verstappen.


            Long and short of it there’s definitely ways the exhausts can benefit performance next year and all the options also have the ability to back fire so someone will surely get it wrong. scarbs even reckons it could be possible to blow as far down as the rear break ducts.

    2. It is a little confusing to understand. But what I’ve heard is that there is a 2 month notice period for leaving FOTA, so they are still under the agreement they signed for 2 more months. So this runs up until about February.

      As for the Resource Restriction Agreement there have been rumours that it runs until 2012, not sure when, and it is a legal document meaning that if they break it they can be sued. Other sources say that it runs until 2017!

      It is very confusing but you can’t help but wonder the real reasons for Red Bull and Ferrari to leave.

      1. Or indeed they might still be convinced not to leave during that notice period!

        (I also read, that Red Bull dispute their signing of the RRA, stating that Horner would not have been eligible to do so!)

        Politicking full throttle here. Money, development, everything in it to play for.

  4. It’s like Piquet all over again, only not as big. My initial reaction was that Jos had kept it bottled up for too long, but it really must be hard for a driver to carry such knowledge with them. There’s a whole lot of stuff that goes on in F1 that we’ll never know about, and the drivers probably know some of it.

    1. Yes maybe some drivers know something, but is not the same to hide a mechanism or system in a car as to hide orders to crash your car…

      I think is sour grapes, and as Saint Thomas “I won´t believe it until I see it”… To believe him I want proves…

      1. Well @celeste, @damonsmedley, over the years it has become quite clear that there likely was a software option that could have allowed tc in that car. Given that, I´m sure they tested with it at least.

        So the only real question is: do you believe Verstappen that he didn’t have it, but Schumacher did, and used it during race weekends?

        From the way that Briatore dealt with Alonso vs. his team mates, and comments from several team mates of Schumacher at Benetton, I think we can safely say that the number one driver having most support and better hardware is likely, if not a given.

        I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see that Schumacher used it at some occasions, partly because I also lend credit to Senna thinking it.

        Does that mean Schumacher isn’t a deserving champion? Well, his 1994 WDC is a bit tainted for other reasons to me already, this just ads to that. But the guy got 7 WDC in 10 years, that can’t be all luck and cheating, I don’t think, so he clearly is made of champion material.

        Perhaps had he played a bit fairer, it would have been a WDC or two less, and he would have been a less controversial and more universally celebrated champion.

        Verstappen says himself that he doesn’t want to use it as an excuse, just that Schumacher’s relative lack of success now is not so surprising to him now he isn’t the absolute no.1 in a team built solely for him. Yes, some sour grapes, but we already knew they were there.

        1. I get your point. But then the lack of success for Rosberg will mean that he also “needs” help or to cheat to win… maybe is only that the car that both racer are drving isn´t good enough..

    2. Not really Piquet-level of revelations, it’s not a new claim and not the first time Jos has made it either.

      In any case, the way I see it Schumacher was stripped of 40 points that year by the FIA, motivated in my view by knowing the car was illegal but not being able to prove it (in the famous British Grand Prix episode, the stewards actually broke their own rules in what penalty Schumacher received and the timing of its notification). By then Williams had caught up to Benetton. In my eyes, everything was even by the time of the last three rounds and whoever won was the correct victor.

      This of course is being written by someone who’s been sticking up pro-Damon Hill statistics up on this website. If anyone has a reason to “take” a title away from Schumacher (who has so many anyway), it’s me.

  5. Mark Hitchcock: torrents are your friend. It’s the cheapest solution for now most likely.

    1. While torrents are how I watch some of the races, too, it’s still not as good as watching them live.

      1. Streaming mate!

        1. I live in a non English speaking country, and watch F1 by various means, including native broadcast, streaming and torrents…

          Streaming is by far and away the worst. The quality sucks, the feeds disappear at crucial moments, and the host websites disappear for obvious reasons.

          Torrents or the extended highlight package are the best bet I think….

          1. Yeah, I agree. As much as I’d like to see it live, living in the U.S. I’m kinda used to it by now.

  6. Just sounds like yet another bitter ex-Schumacher team-mate to me. Doesn’t actually prove anything.

    1. Yup, Verstappen, a true legend of F1 who scored as many points after 94 as Schumacher did world championships.

      1. @David-A But can you really blame him? Driving around in a Tyrrell and an Arrows isn’t the best way to win championships, is it? Besides, didn’t Michael say Jos was the man he feared most in his early years?

        1. @damonsmedley – Perhaps those weren’t great cars to showcase talent. However I’m just not pleased with Jos coming out with these statements almost 18 years on, while not really saying anything we didn’t already know or hear about.

          1. He wants $$$ from magazines, methinks.

    2. The fact that he wasn’t a champion or even a winning driver doesn’t means that the must remain silent.

      1. @horacio – But it does mean his comments will easily appear like sour grapes.

  7. “Former Formula 1 driver, Jos Verstappen, today revealed that Michael Schumacher cheated during the 1994 season, in which the German captured the first of his record-breaking seven F1 World Championships.

    In other news, it gets dark at night.”

  8. It seems like the Dacia Sandero news in Top Gear.

    Jos Verstappen: “Oh no! the Benetton B194 was illegal!”
    F1 community: “okay, moving on now…”

  9. I have thought of an (just one) upside to Sky getting the TV rights to Formula 1: people spend more time watching the races together. Think about it, a group of friends can pool their resources and get a subscription for the bloke with the best TV/sound system. Come race day, they can all gather at said bloke’s house for their bi-weekly fix of petrol, V8s and burning rubber.

    Sadly, the BBC’s F1 coverage team was something of a God-send. They were like the Avengers, or the Justice League, there was just no one who could match. :'( All the best to the BBC in rebuilding their F1 team, and of long-overdue thank you for giving us such awesome coverage.

  10. Verstappen didnt have to come out and say it, everyone already new it anyway.

    1. I didn´t… and for the record I don´t believe it

      1. @celeste check my link up above (it’s à FIA 1994 press release) ah well, here

          1. @verstappen thank you, I didn´t knew that… I think I was 10 o 9 about that time… but even so why only used it in a car… Is not like at the time Schumacher was already a champion at the time so it will made sense to used in both cars…

            anyways… is not like they are gonna strip Schumi from his championship, right now he is just being a sore loser driver…

    2. Anyone that didn’t know/strongly believe that the Benetton was running bent is either horrifically naive or wasn’t paying any attention.

      Symonds and Briatore, the crooked dynamic duo, no strangers to race-fixing, in charge of a car that was loaded with cheat-modes, secret keypresses and launch and traction control software … for the service of a driver with a let’s say “relentless” attitude to competition and racing ethics …. please.

      The question that can probably never be answered, is how many risks rival teams had to take to try to catch a dodgy B194 that year, how many safety limits had to be pushed or exceeded to try and make up the illegal difference … how many serious crashes may have been otherwise avoided.

      1. @Gold-Leaf

        Umm, wrong almost straight from the start..

        Symonds and Briatore, the crooked dynamic duo, no strangers to race-fixing

        I can only think of 1 race where they fixed it, and that was almost 1 and a half DECADES after 1994… How many other races did they fix? Imola 1994? Any of the 2005 races? 2006?

        They weren’t bad people, they were slightly controversial and then the one incident happened in 2008 and suddenly they’re ‘no strangers to race-fixing’…

  11. Oh Jos, tell us something we don’t know! 1994 was a painful year that we’ve all moved on from, I suggest you do the same.

  12. if Legard retuning doesn’t make people switch to sky nothing will. I know I’ll be happy to fork out, or watch by any reliable means if I can avoid such horrors. It appears sky have looked at an f1 fan’s top 5 wishlist items and bought them. The perfect commentary team, longer coverage, gp2 races, more Ted, and everything live. BBC chiefs appear to have spent the last few months thinking hard on different ways of ballsing everything up and losing every viewer they’ve got. Proud of the bbc, depressed by its management.

    1. They have GP2 races on Sky next year?

      1. well eurosport aren’t showing it so the next available buyer is….

      2. I don’t think GP2 is confirmed, but I saw a tweet from Martin Haven that hinted Eurosport had the rights bought from them by Sky.

  13. sid_prasher (@)
    8th December 2011, 7:12

    They might as well dissolve it now…

  14. As someone who’s spoke to guys who were at Benetton in 1994, The 1994 car wasn’t necisarily in the spirit of the rules but it was not actually illegal.

    The “Option 13” many state as the launch/traction control option was actually a sophisticated engine mapping system & not a full blown traction control system.

    1. Thanks for that insight @GT_Racer! That makes sense.

      Although how far away is it from full blown tc, really, to be able to control the amount of power that goes out independent of throttle position – just lacking an active torque control on the drive-shaft/wheels?, and importantly, active ride hight control, of course.

      In the Dutch interview, Verstappen mainly uses it to say: part of the difference between him and other Benetton drivers was that he had something extra in the car, without it his car wouldn’t have been able to go as fast, so he’s very sure Schumacher had some electronic help. He doesn’t say the car was illegal, but that MSC’s version had something extra they didn’t want to talk about.

  15. No!!!!
    Not Allen or Legard!!!

    1. Just when you thought it couldn`t get any worse!

    2. @svettel To quote Legard…

      “Oh no, it’s all going wrong for him here!”.

      1. That’s not what he wanted!

        1. @damonsmedley My favourite Legard-ism? When Alonso lost control in Spa and Legard was wetting himself with excitement… “Will he get back on the track?!”

          Doubt it mate, his wheel is hanging off.

  16. The only organization that seems could have fought Bernie is now breaking into pieces.

    1. yes Fota finish

  17. A big team of birthday bunnies today! Happy Birthday to all of you Gfasulo, @James_mc, @Joey-Poey, Koper and Rick DeNatale!

  18. I think we all know Schumacher would/will do just about anything to win so claiming they had a system on his car but he didn’t use it doesn’t wash.

    1. And still there’s nothing conclusive to prove it was used. So your opinion doesn’t wash either.

    2. I think it was not Schumacher call but Benetton’s. Even if FIA would have proved the use of forbidden electronics, I doubt they would have received anything other than a race suspension. Remember that they were proved to be cheating by removing the filter of the refueling system and yet they received no punishment. This was particularly troubling as Verstappen himself was about to be engulfed by flames. 1994 a year to forget.

  19. I smell some free Ferrari V8s for Mr. Sauber next year after this announcement.

    Is it just me or is all this endless politicking getting boring? I just want to watch good, fair and fast racing with some interesting cars, teams and drivers.

    It’s clear that F1 is nothing more than a commercial entity these days with a sporting facade stuck to the front of it to get people looking through the shop window.

    F1 is dying, please somebody help her!!

    1. what’s wrong with the free V8s from ferrari to sauber
      Mclaren also get the free V8s from mercedes (maybe this not the good exemple but getting engines for free is not a crime)

      1. As far as I can see my comment doens’t besmurch Sauber getting free engines.

        Mclaren pay for their Mercedes engines actually, they no longer receive factory support.

    2. @coefficient FOTA was founded with a view to making things fair, from a technical and economical point of view. If anything, there could only be greater disparity in the future.

      And F1 isn’t the only sport where commercialism is top dog. It’s not exactly new either. It’s always been an excuse to showboat!

      1. Doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it though does it?

        1. @coefficient Of course not. I would prefer it that way as well.

  20. Congrats on COTD Mark. You’ve hit the nail on the head in a very concise way. It’s not about how much of a fan someone is to pay for Sky it’s just about reality and most fans won’t be able to watch. It’s a sad day and there are plenty of fans (and fanatics) who love the sport more than I ever could and can spout the most random of facts but won’t be able to watched their beloved F1. I know that the BBC still has some races etc and the rest will be delayed highlights but how long will it be until it’s all just on Sky?

  21. Peter Sauber in that picture. ‘You talkin’ to me?’

  22. Next team to leave FOTA?

    *Banzai mode*


    1. Toro Rosso… then Lotus

  23. B194 was probably a car that was created and went against the rules of the FIA for that season on more than one occassion. The fuel filter incident was an issue in 1994 that could have hurt one of their drivers, but in the spirit of winning that didn’t seem to matter.

    The main accusation though is what is the true issue, a computer system on the car yet doesn’t get use is a funny paradox. Especially when we look at the facts, that the FIA wasn’t ever given the full team data and only slight evidence pointed to the use of such a system. I think the main issue is that in today’s world to alot of people that are fans of F1, Shumi is a god and to say that he didn’t win on his own making is wrong and upsetting to them. Shumi is great, but it’s not that hard to believe that such tools helped augment the already amazing skills of Schumacher. The final thing that helps me believe there was some cheating was the team boss for the time, Flavio Briatore. Who was forced to resign from F1 for race fixing, which is funny cause cheating isn’t something you develop overnight.

    I guess if you look at it from a perspective at that frame of time, people would probably have found this to be true more so then the present. However, looking at the evidence over time…it doesn’t sound that irrational.

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