Spain to rotate F1 race venues, France return in doubt

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In the round-up: the Circuit de Catalunya and Valencia will share the Spanish Grand Prix from next year.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

F1 rotation for Barcelona and Valencia from 2013 as France faces wait (The Guardian)

“Spain’s two Formula One venues in Barcelona and Valencia will alternate from next year, and a return to France is looking less likely.”

Spanish races to alternate, France looking doubtful (Reuters)

“Although financial terms have been agreed, the change of French president with Socialist Francois Hollande beating conservative Nicolas Sarkozy in this month’s election, has cast doubt on any deal going ahead.”

Nico Rosberg (BBC)

“Whiting told the drivers that Rosberg’s move was on the limit, but that it was acceptable as long as the defending driver moved first, made a clear move, and the attacking driver did not have any of his car alongside the leading car.”

Karthikeyan gets permission to race (Autosport)

Narain Karthikeyan will be allowed to take part in the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday despite having failed to set a time within the 107 per cent in qualifying.”

Market jitters could slow F1 IPO-source (Reuters)

“Renewed turbulence in global markets could put the brake on plans to float the Formula One motor racing business in Singapore next month, a source close to the deal told Reuters on Saturday.”

Romain Grosjean Q&A: Lotus the perfect place to be (Lotus)

“Fact is that I feel so perfectly in place at Lotus right now – and I hope that it stays that way. We have a good momentum right now and I am sure that we will keep it – fingers crossed.”

Pirelli tells critics to enjoy the ride (The Telegraph)

Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery: “As the viewing figures showed last year, interest kept going up even when the championship was a foregone conclusion. What happens if we get a close championship with all that racing?”

Newey backs tyre formula (Sky)

“I think that brings a different set of skills to the fore. It’s almost like [Alain] Prost in the eighties when he got the reputation for being ‘The Professor’ for how he did the race – and I think that’s coming back. “It gives some variety, it gives some change in the field – both race to race, during the race and from qualifying to race. And that’s all good for the sport, good for spectating.”

Comment of the day

Lewis Hamilton’s penalty provoked well over 400 comments in six hours yesterday. Many, such as this from Bpacman, deemed the penalty was out of proportion to the offence:

The most galling thing is that far worse offences have received much more minor sanctions. Think back to Spa last year where Maldanado was given just a 5 grid place penalty for intentionally crashing into Hamilton . How can failing to complete the slow-down lap be deemed more serious than intentionally making contact with a competitor’s car?

It’s this disproportionate application of punishments which really damages the sport – this isn’t the only example either, think about McLaren getting a $100m fine for copying elements of Ferrari’s design compared to Renault receiving a suspended disqualification for instructing one of their drivers to crash.

All fans and competitors in any sport ask is that decisions are transparent, fair and proportionate. F1 continually fails on nearly all of these counts.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Stephen!

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

Felipe Massa won the Spanish Grand Prix five years ago today.

The McLaren pair of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso finished second and third – Alonso being squeezed off at the first corner by his future Ferrari team mate.

The result put the rookie Hamilton – who at that stage was yet to win an F1 race – into the lead of the world championship.

Image © Mercedes

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62 comments on “Spain to rotate F1 race venues, France return in doubt”

  1. So with Valencia out and Bahrain and Korea both possible non starter in the next couple of years does that mean more races for the US? Interesting. Somewhere on the East coast thanks Bernie.

    1. I want to know if the French GP cant go ahead, where does that put Spa?

      1. Spa was never confirmed as the venue France would alternate with. There was also talk that France would alternate with Spain or with Hungary, or even with Germany if the Nurburgring organisers declared bankruptcy.

        1. Hungary would’ve been a better option!

    2. There has been nothing to suggest that the Bahrain and Korean Grands Prix will not go ahead. Bernie said that the 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead at this year’s race; the only people claiming that it won’t happen are the fans who were outraged at the 2012 race happening. As for Korea, they managed to renegotiate the terms of their contract with Bernie, so they should be making less of a loss this time.

      1. well, there were concerns about Korea leaving the calendar for 2013, even after the renegotiations… so everything can happen.

        1. @fer-no65 – I think a lot will depend on the Concorde Agreement. I’ve heard that Bernie is looking to expand the calendar to include a maximum of 24 races, but each of the extra four races would require the approval of the teams; because of the extra demands placed on travelling around the world, the teams would have some say in where events take place. If Bernie gets the extra four races, then Korea is probably safe. If he doesn’t, then I imagine the Korean Grand Prix would be somewhat less stable.

          I suspect the Korean Grand Prix might be (or have been) an attempt to lure Hyundai into the sport. They were going to submit an entry for the 2010 season, but struggled during the recession. They’ve managed to regain a foothold in the market and they are on the up and up. They’ve also revitalised their image – in the 1990s, they were seen as “disposable cars” that you could buy cheaply and run until they died and then throw them away. The likes of the Veloster and the i30 in particular are very much sports cars.

      2. Reported on F1F that the Koreans wanted to “renegotiate” their contract. On Bahrain I predict a tactical retreat by Bernie and the Bahranis because he’s trying to flog the biz and the race was a PR disaster. Even if it did go ahead in the future and the biz was sold any sane buyer would discount the income from that race against the sale.

        1. Reported on F1F that the Koreans wanted to “renegotiate” their contract.

          Reported by The Korea Herald that the negotiation was successful.

          On Bahrain I predict a tactical retreat by Bernie and the Bahranis because he’s trying to flog the biz and the race was a PR disaster.

          I don’t know about that. The Bahrain Grand Prix was three weeks ago, and most people seem to have forgotten about the controversy. The tyres and Hamilton’s penalty are the big talking points now. In a year, the Bahrain protests will likely be a thing of the past, and present very little barrier to the race going ahead.

  2. lewis(well mclarens) pen was fine. rules are rules and they were stupid to run that close to the wind. its not a debate. it is what it is. they were warned about in canada and have decided to ignore it.

    as for rosberg well thats all fine but it means what michael did to rubens was fine. the wall being their makes no difference. the rules should be clear cut. a wall or barrier should make no difference. and if they do we shouldnt race at them tracks

    1. I think both moves were different. Schumi closed the line to the wall when Rubens was already there, whereas Rosberg moved to the inside line along with Alonso, who could’ve chosen to go on the outside if he wanted.

  3. What happened here? Last night, everyone was expressing disappointment for Maldonado, even his staunchest critics. Now, less than twelve hours later, we’ve got people lining up to launch another salvo at the stewards.

    I doubt there would be nearly as much outcry if, say, Daniel Ricciardo or Nico Hulkenberg had been excluded for the same infringement …

    Think back to Spa last year where Maldanado was given just a 5 grid place penalty for intentionally crashing into Hamilton

    At the risk of re-opening old wounds, the stewards reprimanded Hamilton for the incident as well. It was fairly clear that they felt Hamilton had provoked Maldonado by forcing him wide onto the wet track with aggressive driving at the Bus Stop. That’s why Maldonado only got a five-place grid penalty – the stewards felt that he wasn’t entirely to blame, and that if Hamilton had respected his right to set a flying lap time, the collision would not have happened.

    It’s this disproportionate application of punishments which really damages the sport – this isn’t the only example either

    The rules are pretty clear: a driver must return to the pits with enough fuel for a sample. If he does not, he can be excluded from qualifying. There is no happy medium (and rightfully so) where the stewards say “Okay, your lap time was so fast that you would have been in front even if you were fully fuelled, so we’re not going to do anything”. That is the selective application of the rules that will ultimately damage the sport.

    If ever a situation arises where there is no immediate provision for it within the rules – like in the example of Schumacher and Alonso at Monaco in 2010 – then the stewards need to make a snap decision. But they need to be careful, because their decision will serve as a precedent for the situation should it arise in future. Once they have decided, the rules can be rewritten to prevent it from happening again, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other loopholes that have never even been considered because the circumstances have never arisen.

    1. I doubt there would be nearly as much outcry if, say, Daniel Ricciardo or Nico Hulkenberg had been excluded for the same infringement …

      There’s a difference between getting sent to the back of the grid from 15th place and getting sent to the back from pole, though. It seems to me the rules are clearly written badly, the time he was underfueled for should be discounted, not his entire session even though he gained no advantage on any other lap.

      1. There’s a difference between getting sent to the back of the grid from 15th place and getting sent to the back from pole, though.

        I don’t think so. Getting sent to the back of the grid is just the biggest penalty they can give without kicking a driver out of the race. The driver’s qualifying position has no bearing on that.

        That said, I’m not sure if this is an appropriate penalty for the offence, but now they’ve set the precedent they’ve got to keep it.

      2. @george

        There’s a difference between getting sent to the back of the grid from 15th place and getting sent to the back from pole, though.

        That shouldn’t matter. Hamilton’s car didn’t have enough fuel to return to the pits under its own power. The stewards can’t give him a free pass simply because he qualified on pole. Doing so would open up all manner of unpleasant possibilities, with teams exploiting the rulebook to get pole, and then claiming that because they are on pole, the rules should not be enforced.

        The reason why I made that comment about it happening to Ricciarado and/or Hulkenberg (or whoever; they were the first two mid-field drivers to spring to mind at the time) is that people cry foul over the supposed selective application of the rules, when they themselves only ever cry foul on a selective basis. For some reason, people seem to think that Lewis Hamilton should be held to a different standard as everyone else. If Ricciardo or Hulkenberg or Rosberg or Petrov or any other driver was found to be under-fuelled, then they would be excluded and sent to the back of the grid. I think that a lot of people are only making a big deal about it because Lewis Hamilton was the one to be penalised.

        The same thing happened when Hamilton took a gearbox penalty in China. Sergio Perez, Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen were all victims of the same rule in Melbourne and Malaysia, and there was very little in the way of disgruntled fans claiming the penalties were unfair. But then Hamilton got hit with a five-place penalty, and suddenly the rule was unfair, and it had robbed him blind of the chance to take pole in Shanghai. But strangely enough, when Michael Schumacher and Pastor Maldonado took grid penalites in Bahrain for the same offence, the chorus of booing was silent (aside from the few diehards who had been protesting it since the Australian Grand Prix).

        In short, every driver needs to be held to the same standard, irrespective of where they qualify and what the consequences for their race of being held to that standard are.

        1. I remember a lot of people complaining that Maldonado got a gearbox penalty in Bahrain…

    2. PM A masterful twisting of the earlier Hamilton/Maldonado incident, are you apprenticing yourself to Bernie?

      1. Do you have some other explanation for it?

        At the time of the incident, the circuit was drying out on a very narrow line, and lap times were improving very quickly. This triggered a mad dash to set a lap time, and we saw several drivers jump up several grid spaces.

        Hamilton caught Maldonado right at the Bus Stop. Maldonado made a msitake on entry, which opened up the door for Hamilton – but not by enough. Hamilton’s move was very aggressive, and it squeezed Maldonado off the dry racing line and out onto the wet circuit. Arguably, this robbed Maldonado the chance of bettering his lap time. And although he only would have improved his lap time enough to climb one or two places – whereas Hamilton had the pace to end up in Q3 – it still didn’t give Hamilton the right to force Maldonado off the racing line. If he mistimed his qualifying run, then that’s his problem. Another driver shouldn’t have to suffer for it.

        Taken in isolation, the burden of responsibility rests with Pastor Maldonado. But, considering every incident that Lewis Hamilton was (and would be) involved in, a pattern begins to emerge: whatever was going on inside his head last year, Hamilton simply didn’t respect the other racers. Whether it was blaming Kobayashi for causing an accident without looking at the replay first, or tangling himself up in Massa’s car at the hairpin in Monaco, Hamilton showed no respect.

        And this is substantiated by the way the stewards reprimanded Hamilton for the incident at Spa. They thought he was too aggressive going into the corner, and that his move pushed Maldonado wide, costing him the chance to set a better lap time. Videos of the incident from a high angle clearly show Maldonado being forced out onto the wet circuit. This, in turn, provoked Maldonado into doing something stupid. It doesn’t exonerate Maldonado. The burden of responsibility was firmly on his shoulders. But it is the only explanation for the stewards reprimanding Hamilton for the incident when he was a supposedly-innocent victim. They thought Maldonado acted in the heat of the moment – hitting Hamilton was a knee-jerk reaction, albeit a stupid one. That’s why Maldonado was only given a grid penalty. If it had been a cold and caluclate move without provocation that was designed to take Hamilton out of the running entirely, then the stewards probably would have stripped Maldonado of his racing licence.

      2. That’s just PM being himself…

        “Hamilton had provoked Maldonado” … “That’s why Maldonado only got a five-place grid penalty – the stewards felt that he wasn’t entirely to blame”

        Intentionally taking revenge on an opponent during a game/race after being provoked is actually an aggravating factor, not a mitigating one.

        “The rules are pretty clear”

        Rules mean nothing without specifying the consequences of infringing them. That’s where F1’s “clear” rules fail conspicuously.

        I wonder what the “rules are black and white, period” camp would say if the law of their countries stated that tax evasion etc. is illegal (so the rules are “clear” according to their interpretation), but the judge may reprimand you for it or sentence you to death, as he sees fit.

    3. I agree with what you say about yesterday’s decision to penalize Hamilton. I think people just go mental because he was on pole and it’s a massive leap from P1 to P24.

      But the rules are very clear in this. You must return to the pits, with 1 litre of fuel left in your tank. Failing to do so (if there was no mechanical failure involved), you get a penalty. It’s simple…

      Sadly, as you say, if it was Verge, no one would have voiced any concerns about the decision. But it was fair to penalize him…

      1. The scope of the penalty is just the difference. When else has such a penalty happened? Schumacher parking his car in Monaco in 2006 got the same penalty. Schumacher pushed Barrichello into the wall only got him a 10 spot penalty. Are you say these are the same? Keep in mind, this isn’t even Hamilton’s fault.

        I’m not say he shouldn’t have got a penalty, but I don’t think you can claim is it a fair penalty.

        1. With all due respect I don’t think you can compare these incidents with Hamilton’s.
          When Rosberg pushed Hamilton off the track at the last race it was fair game to compare it to the Schumacher-Barrichelo incident because they were very similar.
          This was the first time anyone had broken this rule since Hamilton and Mclaren caused the rule to be put into place at the 2010 Canadian GP. The was no precedent, now it’s been set – simples. When it happens again and it’s a different driver and they’re given a reprimand then you can come back and compare it to ths incident.

          1. I think such punishment, especially one that is totally outside the control of the driver, is just too harsh. The reasons I’m comparing it to those events, as they’re events of other penalties which (especially in the case of Hungary 2010) were far worse than what Hamilton did, yet the penalty was less! I just can’t see the logic in it.

          2. I think such punishment, especially one that is totally outside the control of the driver, is just too harsh.

            When Ferrari gave team orders to Massa at Hockenheim in 2010, one of the big arguments in favour of the move was that Formula 1 is a team sport.

            What would be a suitable penalty that would affect the team and not Hamilton? A fine? If that were the case, you would have teams exploiting the rules to get pole, knowing full well that the worst the stewards could do would be a fine of a few thousand dollars. I can think of more than one team that would feel the fine would be worth it if they could get pole by breaking the rules.

          3. It is difficult not to penalise the driver. Perhaps a time penalty equal to or even double the expected benefit of running a lap less of fuel. But it is difficult to fairly determine what time it should be for each track.

            So, otherwise, do penalise the driver, but with a reasonable punishment fitting the crime- exclusion of that time, or all times from that session.

        2. @lightsout you’re comparing actions on track (99% of them are highly debatable), with a very specific technical regulations.

          I understand what you’re saying, but if there wasn’t enough fuel, there wasn’t enough fuel. The penalty was as inmediate as an engine or gearbox change. We often hear people saying it’s “unfair” that people that need an engine change get penalized 10 spots on the grid, but that’s the regulations.

          All I’m saying is that this is a strict rule. It’s either black or white…

    4. You won’t get away with that statement @prisoner-monkeys, as @george writes getting dropped back from pole to the end of the grid is pretty draconial. Its the same penalty Schumi got for intentionally parking the car in Monaco a few years back. Do you honestly feel these two infringements are of the same severity?

      I fully agree with the COTD from @bpacman about F1 needing more balanced, predictable and fair stewarding. Sure, the team broke the rules, but the reason we don’t leave stewarding to a computer fed with the rules is, that it needs carefull thought about how appropriate a punishment is for a case. And it should also take in account the balance between penalties handed out for incidents or infringements.

      To react to your completely misplaced thinking about Spa last year, what you write only supports what the COTD states. Namely that an incident where two cars could have caused a major accident completely unnecessary is worse than a technical infringement that theoretically gives a competative advantage. Clearly the Stewards found it important to highlight that drivers should refrain from either provoking or inciting such maneuvers, that is why they reprimanded Hamilton as well, but it only accentuates how much the small penalty for Maldonado was inappropriate.

  4. The penalty might have been too harsh, but if it’s in the rules, then that’s what it is. Technical regulations are quite easy to police afterall, as it’s usually either black or white (unless some loophole in a regulation).

    It’s up to the stewarts to provide a consistent and fair judgement over those actions which are subject to interpretation, like crashes, or actions on track. I mean, if a wing is too wide, it’s illegal and that’s it. If two guys crash while fighting a position, there are a thousand different opinions on the matter.

    1. I agree.

      Lewis’ car was illegal, as it carried too little fuel (or would have been, had he driven it back to the pits.) You run an illegal car, you get disqualified… just how it works.

      On a different note: Happy to see the Spanish races swapping. Would rather they go away entirely, but this is better than what we have now.

      1. On a different note: Happy to see the Spanish races swapping. Would rather they go away entirely, but this is better than what we have now.

        Or we could go back to Montjuïc Park. That would be fantastic.

    2. Spot on. All this debate about the harshness of the penalty is pointless, like it was a sporting rule being breached.
      Illegal car, disqualified. End of it.

      1. That car was not illegal per se. It became illegal by under-fuelling it in Q3.

        Does that mean that any car becoming illegal through a mistake at any time during qualifying (e.g. by losing a poorly attached wheel in the final minute of Q3) should be disqualified from the whole session?

        1. No, it does not become illegal if it has an issue outside the control of the team. The rules explicitely rules out that.
          But it became illegal because of the McLaren, hence the penalty.
          Yes, “mistake” is no excuse.

          1. an issue outside the control of the team

            That’s why I brought up “poorly attached wheel” as an example. It’s not a force majeure, either. Fixing it properly is as much within the control of a team as fuelling the car right.

  5. Agree wholeheartedly with COTD.

    Bernie looks like missing out on many millions of French taxpayers Euros, I say good, let him try to run the circuit as a self financing business like Silverstone and then maybe, only maybe, we might get more GPs at the great traditional tracks that cannot afford to pay millions to FOM when they have only ticket sales for income.

    1. The problem with the CotD is that two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because other penalties are lenient shouldn’t affect how we view this individual penalty.

  6. Good thing we have these “cliff dropping” tyres or this weekend would have been really boring, wouldn’t it?

    1. thatscienceguy
      13th May 2012, 5:41

      change the record, mate.

  7. Well considering we’re half way through 2012 and afaik nothing has happened at Paul Ricard yet, it’s hardly surprising they’ll have to wait past 2013. Was the GP relying on government support from the get-go?

    1. @george – I believe it was (and is) relying on some government support, but the majority of the funding was not public money.

  8. We are lost! When Adrian Newey defends the tyres as being for the entertainment of the TV viewers it is obvious that the USA Superbowl is the model a sporting event watched by millions of Americans that otherwise take little interest in the sport, will we be seeing the grid-bunnies twirling pom-poms, forming pyramids and doing the splits, perhaps the safety car could be replaced with parade floats and Justin Bieber could sing the national anthem. Bernies idea of having track sprinklers can be revived with a celebrity pushing the button to start them on a lap drawn from a lotto machine and kept secret till it happens, should be great TV.
    The irony of it all is that Newey defended the tyres by referring to the great racing we had in an era when tyres lasted the whole race.

  9. why Karthikeyan is always allowed to race despite failing to get within 107% rule?

    1. @snafu – Because the HRT is capable of lapping within 107% of the fastest lap times. The 107% rule is designed to eliminate cars that are too slow to make the grid. The only times the stewards have refused entry to the race is when a) both cars have qualified outside 107% of the fastest Q1 time and b) neither driver has come close to that time all weekend.

    2. Karthikeyan set a time in final practice that was within 107%. For whatever reason he couldn’t do this in qualifying, but practice times are taken into account by the stewards.

    3. He should not be allowed to race, but it’s OK as long as he does not hinder other cars too much (like Vettel in Malaysia).

  10. The battle between Romain and Kimi into Turn 1 could determine the race winner in my opinion.

    1. I am genuinely excited for tonight! This should be a classic.

  11. There is also a rumour going around that the Russian Grand Prix is “doomed” in Kevin Eason’s words. It was touched upon in an Autosport Plus article, it has something to do with Putin’s re-election as president.

  12. “As the viewing figures showed last year, interest kept going up even when the championship was a foregone conclusion. What happens if we get a close championship with all that racing?”

    Those that can afford it will continue to watch, I assume!

  13. All of you people posting about the Hamilton decision should be doing it on the relevant story page. How are we going to get to 1000 comments if you’re splitting them up like this?

  14. Regarding COTD:
    No even as a McLaren fan, I have to say it’s not disproportional. McLaren has done it in Canada a few years ago, and they have re-written the rules since to prevent something like that from happening again. Whether or not this was intentional, it’s clear that it was a clear breach of the rules.

  15. The most worrying thing about perhaps not returning to France is; what will happen with Spa? If they can’t be propped up by a race share then things don’t look too good.

    1. @andrewtanner – If you read the article, it’s not all doom and gloom. Hollande isn’t against the Grand Prix, he’s just against the Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. Joe Saward suggests Hollande wants the race at Magny-Cours, because the circuit is deep in the heart of the Socialist Party’s traditional power base. He also adds that Hollande might be willing to see the race alternate between Magny-Cours and Paul Ricard, in which case the French Grand Prix would be a yearly event.

      In the event that the French Grand Prix does not happen, or that it becomes an annual race, then I’m guessing that Spa would alternate with Germany. The Nurburgring is in serious danger of going bust, and if Hockenheim is unwilling to take on the race annually, then it makes sense to alternate with Spa.

  16. Really stressing about this race. Hope Alonso makes it through the first corner without pastor slamming into him.

    1. I don’t know why people seem to think that Maldonado is suddenly going to forget how to be a racing driver and crash into everyone at the first corner.

  17. A good clarification on the defensive driving vs. blocking issue. What simply shouldn’t happen is the kind of driving where a driver who is only marginally ahead anymore turns his car into another car’s side, which would be seen as trying to force the other driver off the track. Judging where to overtake your opponent has to be maintained as an essential driver skill, though, so I find it important that it doesn’t go in the direction of “As soon as the guy following you makes a move, you have to ‘disengage’ and let him pass you”.

    I happen to enjoy the tyre format / policy, as well. One should not forget or ignore that it’s an arbitrary format, as the tyres are specifically made to only last a short distance in the race, but the most likely alternative would be what happened with the previous tyre supplier, where you had one compound that would basically last the distance and another one you just had to use to sprinkle in some extra good lap times.

    What I’d still enjoy more was if they got rid of the mandatory elements in the rules concerning the tyres, so that everyone could choose which tyres to use after qualifying — and that there would be a possibility for real variations in race strategy, such as only using tyres of one compound (while still, of course, leaving the familiar option of using a combination of both).

    Always interesting to read about these race rotation deals in progress.

  18. Where does that put the European Grand Prix? Will it be discontinued or shifted to another venue?

    1. @thekingofspa – As far as I know, it will be discontinued.

    2. Dicontinued.. Greedy guts Bernie.

  19. Who would I like to see use a helmet cam? Perhaps Massa when he can see Lewis in his mirrors..

  20. My dad promised me that if I do well in my GCSE’s, he’ll take me to Spa in 2013. Until I told him that France would be in place of Spa, and that the circuit made me hillusinate because of all the Blue and Grey stripes on both sides. Now that France looks to not be alternating with Spa anymore, looks rosy!

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