Felipe Nasr, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015

Force India, Lotus and Sauber have “problems”

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Felipe Nasr, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2015In the round-up: The financial health of three of Formula One’s teams is a cause for concern.

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Force India seeks prize money advance (Autosport)

"We have made it clear to the commercial rights holder that we have problems, as have Lotus and Sauber. It's not isolated to one team."

Rivals welcome Marussia return (Reuters)

"Against all the odds it looks like they are going to be in Melbourne, which is fantastic."

Arrivabene calls out Ecclestone over fan engagement (Crash)

"I heard that in Australia the will apply more restrictions in terms of passes and I think this is not acceptable. So I said to the guys if we are going to have a situation where the paddock is going to be empty it is better we start training by going with the people and sit in the grandstand."

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Comment of the day

Jack witnessed Pastor Maldonado’s crash during yesterday’s test:

I was at the corner when it happened (first F1 crash I’ve seen in the flesh) and there was definitely a problem with the car, he didn’t brake at all late and never really attempted to turn in. I think it was on his out lap aswel, I don’t recall him coming past the lap previously.
Jack (@Jackisthestig)

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Happy 53rd birthday to WTCC racer Gabriele Tarquini. Previously an F1 drivers, he who holds the unfortunate and virtually unbeatable record for most failures to pre-qualify for grands prix:

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  • 62 comments on “Force India, Lotus and Sauber have “problems””

    1. Am I falling deeper in love with Ferrari? I think I am. Everything’s taking a turn towards the good, FINALLY, a decent team principal who understands the fans! Now I just hope they are competitive!

      1. Alexander (@)
        2nd March 2015, 10:01

        Maurizio is absolutely great, he’s view on the future of F1 whit the concept car and this protest. He really knows his stuff!

      2. One of the best things I saw last year at Monza was a group of people (mostly Tifosi) who had bought a single paddock pass and were sharing it to get into the paddock. One would take it to get in, spend a bit of time in there, then come out with a huge grin, pass it on to the next person and tell them the best places to go to see people.

        It was things like this that helped build the atmosphere of the event. It was healthy, friendly, and never at any point felt antagonistic. A McLaren fan sat in the middle of a stand of Tifosi felt no fear of cheering on his team. More than that, the Tifosi were happy to join in with the cheers for anyone who was doing well.

        Combine this with the podium celebrations (except for a pocket-ful of booing), and I came away with the feeling that the Italians had got F1 fandom pretty much right.

    2. If Mercedes have indeed maintained around a 1-second advantage over their closest competitors for 2015, then is there even any possibility of other teams catching them for 2016? Their development curve will of course begin to flatten out, but it seems as if the other teams have barely caught them at all since the beginning of 2014 – it makes it seem unlikely that they’ll be fully caught for next year either.

      It seems like the chances of a battle between more than one team for the championship in 2016 rests on the McLaren-Honda package having this “huge potential” we’ve been hearing about. It will be interesting to see how their package improves from its very slow start in testing.

      Even as a fan of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes (heck I’m a bit of a Rosberg fan as well) I would like to see more teams battling it out at the front. Lewis even said himself he would prefer to be battling other teams. Personally, I found 2014 very entertaining due to the intra-team battle (not to mention good racing throughout the field), but I imagine that’s going to get pretty repetitive sooner or later if other teams don’t catch up.

      Of course, I’ll be watching F1 anyway, I’m not the type of person who wants to be talking F1 down all the time – I’m sure the racing is going to be great again, and I’m sure Mercedes will again make their intra-team battle much more entertaining than teams like Ferrari usually did. But it’s starting to look like it’ll be 2017 (with the big rule changes) at the earliest before a constructor other than Mercedes wins a championship.

      1. Personally, I found 2014 very entertaining due to the intra-team battle (not to mention good racing throughout the field), but I imagine that’s going to get pretty repetitive sooner or later if other teams don’t catch up.

        Worringly, I don’t see Rosberg coming back stronger, as if not that he lost the championship after a year long battle in terms of performance. He just managed to be there when bad luck or mistakes (if there were any) disrupted Lewis’ progress.

        So if Mercedes is going to be as strong as in 2014 next season, I really don’t see much fight at the front between those two, and off track, even less of a problem for Lewis.

      2. @marcus,

        I’m not the kind of person who wants to be talking F1 down all the time.

        No need, we can always rely on Bernie for that.

      3. I hate intra team battles, you can’t really expect equal treatment you have to settle with “fair” treatment. There’s a hope for 2016 and that’s Honda, they have submitted their plans for their powertrain a couple days ago and they’ve obviously submitted an engine that’s brand new, possibly as aggressive as can be following of course the footsteps of Mercedes. From now to 2016 Honda has a full year to get it right and reap the rewards of coming late. Renault and Ferrari are probably frozen on fundamental changes to get even on Merc so there’s no hope for them, on the engine front, I think 2015 is probably a year they’ll use to prepare the 2016, it’s that depressing. Talking 2015, only Merc and Lotus brought the regulation limited short nose, so there’s more aero to come from most of the grid, so not all is grim even if the Merc engine gets stronger and stronger.

        1. @peartree

          Wow!

          100’s of millions of $$$ to be an also ran and hope for 2016?

          How is this sustainable ?

      4. Last season was pretty good but always the battle between different teams is better, more exciting I should say.
        2010 comes in mind where 3 teams where capable for victory. But sometimes was confusing (which car and which driver was doing what in every circuit, plus very complicated calculations for the champion before Korean GP…..very hard indeed).
        So my best season from the previous F1 era was 2007, were good things from both worlds were happening. Two winning teams, 4 drivers, 2 inter team battles. So simple. Kimi took it because of inter team rivalry (Nando-Lewis escalated and exploded in Hungary) and Massa’s unreliability (Massa-fanboy over here!).
        Anyhow, 2015 will not be a season like these but a carbon-fiber copy of 2014 without the double points nonsense. I am rooting for Nico all the way because if he doesn’t up his game in races Lewis will be champion before the last back to back flyaways.
        Finally this season promises a great constructors championship battle for 2nd and 3rd place. Which of Ferrari, Williams and RBR will be 4th? My guess is Williams….. :(

    3. F1 is truly one of the least fan engaging sports today, which is just depressing. Ecclestone and FOM simply don’t understand how to attract any new young fans to the sport. When you compare it to the NFL, they are universes apart; and FOM wonder why the viewing figures are down.

      1. Why go compare to the NFL, which is a completely different sport. Just look at NASCAR or Moto GP. Fans flock to NASCAR in the hundreds of thousands for a race weekend. Their coverage is brilliant and drivers and teams engage with fans…and its a sport that is awash with sponsorship money.

        Like Ive said before, F1’s problem is simple. Its run by people who are still living in the 1990s, further to this, its participants have an undeserving sense of self entitlement…which has bred the arrogance that will be F1’s eventual downfall. I just hope that it changes.

        1. There’s less people turning upto Nascar races nowadays, Both there TV figures & Circuit attendance are in decline.
          Its the same with regards to sponsors, There’s significantly less than there used to which is why you have seen so many so called Start & Park entrants the past few years.

          But coming back to F1, The problem with engaging fans & allowing access is not just limited to Bernie, Its an issue with the teams in terms of what they allow at the circuits. You see in testing for example that they put screens up to stop anyone looking into there garages & they used to do it during race weekends until the FIA banned it. The teams used to restrict what team radio was available to fans as they encrypted it, Only been recently that was banned.

          The problem is that the teams like to be as secretive as possible & they like to hide as much as possible to prevent other teams from figuring out what there doing & unfortunately that comes at the expense of fans who do get shut out along with the other teams. The irony of course is that for the most part all that secrecy doesn’t really hide anything because they all figure out what each other are doing anyway.

          The biggest reason for example Nascar teams are less secretive is because there’s not really anything on the cars thats worth been secretive about. With the exception of the engines & manufacturer specific body shape its pretty much a spec series & Nascar controls what they can change on the cars so tightly to ensure equality that there isn’t anything they need to hide so they can get away with letting fans see more.
          Same with Indycar, Everyone has access to the same bits & pieces so there’ not really anything worth hiding apart from downforce levels so all they need to do is throw covers over the front/rear wings during qualifying & just before the race.

          1. @gt-racer

            The teams used to restrict what team radio was available to fans as they encrypted it, Only been recently that was banned.

            There must still be some encryption going on as you can’t turn up with a radio scanner and listen to what they’re saying as people did back in the eighties. But as you say they do let FOM listen in for broadcasting purposes.

          2. The thing that winds me is that teams / FOM hide things they all know! They all have gps on each other for example, it’s just us who don’t.

            And while they’re tossing out half-baked fakery like standing starts after SC’s and adolescent fat tyres and OMG 1000 bhp, they can’t even get it together to show us a key tactical weapon that they used to show, of ERS usage.

            The racing itself, and the cars, and the drivers, are the best they’ve ever been. You only have to watch some old races to see that. The battle for 3rd this year is going to be fabulous.

    4. I drive past Alber Park to work and back everyday. Seeing the race prep going on just gets me pumped up for the season! Can’t believe it is only 2 weeks to go.

      1. Did my own round of Albert Park in 21min flat last Saturday.
        (running that is)

        1. That’s a pretty good time mate, good stuff! That’s an average of 15KMH or something, right? I think I’d die…

        2. Haha I’ll stick to driving. Is the track open for people to drive around by any chance? Haven’t driven into the park in some time.

          1. ColdFly F1 (@)
            2nd March 2015, 11:57

            It typically remains open until the Wednesday I believe, and then Monday morning again.

        3. Good enough for 3rd on grid after Mercs @coldfly

          ;)

      2. I drive past interlagos to work and back everyday. Seeing the race prep going on just gets me pumped up for the season! Can’t believe it is only 12 weeks to go.

    5. In a weird turn of events, Manor/Marussia, who were left for dead, have now pulled a Lazarus and is on the brink of making the grid, while the likes of FI and Lotus are now on the brink of not making grid!

      Its funny how the people that run the sport dont think there is a problem.

      The idea of the core car that was recently mooted appears to be a decent idea. One Dieter Rencken surely things so (http://plus.autosport.com/premium/feature/6403/core-car-idea-could-be-f1-saviour/?_ga=1.83063637.291539846.1421735743).

      So here’s a question. What would happen if the likes of Lotus, FI and Sauber, perhaps Manor, pooled their resources together and started sharing parts? Would that be against some kind of regulation? They would still construct their own chassis, but all the other bits that go onto the car could be shared perhap? How much could they save?

      1. It would be cheaper but it will also be illegal. All the F1 teams should agree to allow that to happen. ie. It aint gonna happen.

        1. It would also involve sharing parts with your closest competitors so it’s a big assumption that these teams would do this with open arms

      2. Oh– Nice to know the idea has a name now. I’ve been saying this since the USF1 debacle– Let the junior teams have a “standard” chassis, not so much a customer car, as a customer tub, that’s already fitted with electronics and mounts for the right PU.

        That way, a rolling chassis that can mount a drivetrain and pass crash testing would be significantly cheaper. Packaging, suspension, aero, would all still be team’s responsibility, but, for example, if Marussia could get the “Standard Ferrari Monocoque” design to go with their engine contract, they’d be much closer to having a car on the grid for Melbourne.

        Note, I’m not suggesting Marussia should turn up with an SF15-T– But if they could get the basic chassis for “assembly cost”, and focus solely on aero/suspension, it could save the smaller teams huge amounts of cash per season.

        1. I think the core car idea still requires the team construct its own chassis. Its all the other bits a bobs that can be collective.

          On the flip side, will the core car concept create a two class grid? We arent far off just now, but would it become more pronounced?

          1. I think a better idea (to avoid a two-class grid) would be to allow those teams that are struggling to cooperate. I think they could all agree to standardise a large part of the car (like the chassis) between them and then they could develop their own aero parts to attach (so they would still be able to compete to try and gain an edge on each other). My understanding is that this is currently banned due to complaints over Toro Rossos running what were effectively detuned Red Bulls when they first came into the sport.

            1. Just to clarify, the difference between my idea and the “core car” idea is the struggling teams are pooling resources and attempting to be competitive, rather than the FIA mandating a “core car” made by an external manufacturer (e.g. Dallara) that may not be as interested in competitiveness and, more importantly, wouldn’t work as closesly with the teams if they were under the FIA’s wing.

    6. Oh no a reduced number of paddock passes, does this mean some Rolex owners may be stuck mingling with the plebs? I just hope they keep the grandstands nice and distant from the general admission sections because God forbid they accidentally make eye contact with such riff raff.

    7. I think it’s time Ferrari and Sauber made an alliance like RB/TR . off course giving Sauber 100% freedom. It makes sense… you know it, I know it and Sauber know it. Maybe McLaren could hook up with Manor. Makes sense.

    8. All these idea’s of standard cars and teams asking for advances are easy to get involved with yet they only distract from the reality of the situation. If you can’t afford to go racing, don’t go racing. This is an adage that applies to thousands if not millions of enthusiasts. Likewise, if you can’t afford to go to the races, don’t go to the races. Etc, etc. The revenues of F1 are not based on spectator participation. Obviously, other sports have different models although the same underlying adage is true: if you can’t afford to go to the hockey, baseball, football, etc., game – don’t go. Those team owner’s/ operators aren’t too concerned about serving the lowest common denominator either. They all make their money from TV rights, merchandise and hospitality and I believe that is the route FOM is most interested in as well. Formula 1 has never been a proletariat pursuit. If, for example, Ferrari want’s to have their people sit in the grandstand’s that would be a pretty cool and exciting initiative but expecting the paddock to open up to people from the grandstands is not a recipe for financial sustainability. Just as allowing F1 coverage on the Internet without a rights usage paywall in place. I love the sport of F1 but all the belly-aching from fans who want this or that is just too much. It’s like all the goofs who go to hear a famous dj and then tell them what song they want to hear. Get over yourselves and let the professionals entertain. Enough rotten tomatoes and self-appointed ceo’s.
      This kind of negativity is only causing the demise of the sport you claim to be so passionate about.

      1. Not so Fast, the venues do depend on spectator participation. In fact, apart from a strong government’s backing, tickets are their sole source of income for the F1 weekend.

        1. Tickets in addition to concession rights and some merchandise/hospitality are the sole source of income for the promoter, not FOM. FOM is paid a fee up-front by the promoter to host the race. How or where that money comes from is irrelevant. As we’ve also seen, if one promoter can’t pay the fee another one will take their place. Obviously for sentimentalists, this creates issues. Yet, for gardeners it creates new opportunities for growth.

          1. @Fast: For ones some how understands F1 finances. But i would ad that in F1 teams have to learn how to do a budget(not make one that is bigger then the money they have in the bank or take into account the price money for next year) and stick to it.
            If you do a budget properly and stick by it you can not go under it is as simple as that.

            Team are earning more money with ever pound Berny makes. Like i said before and i see Ferrari and Merc is starting to do it. It is the teams job to promote them self and not Berny job. Bernys job is to promo the sport.

            1. Bernys job is to promo the sport.

              Yeah, but when have we last seen anything but talking the sport down from him instead @koosoos.
              Bernie is NOT promoting the sport, he is just “selling” both the right to stage a race and the rights to show it on TV.

      2. Not so fast Fast (2).

        If you can’t afford to go racing, don’t go racing.

        The teams agreed cost cutting measures/cap a few years ago (like many other sports), which got a few new teams in and convinced others to stay. The problem is that Bernie/FIA/big_teams never delivered on this.
        The actually did exactly the opposite: Engine development will be more due to poorly defined homologation rules; Manor has to spend big (money) because the nose has to be a bit lower/shorter.

        They all make their money from TV rights, merchandise and hospitality and I believe that is the route FOM is most interested in as well.

        The difference is that in F1, FOM will only distribute a part of that revenue (<70%), and only after deduction costs like interests (FOM has a huge debt, not because of investing in the business, but because they paid Bernie/CVC huge dividends).

        Enough rotten tomatoes and self-appointed ceo’s.

        Talking about Bernie?

        1. Agreed, all interesting topics of conversation.

          1. If you can’t afford to go racing, don’t go racing.

            I kinda agree with this comment – but the problem is F1 is more expensive than it should be anyway, and if all the teams that were struggling left only 6 teams would be left – Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and Toro Rosso. Given that some teams don’t want more than 2 cars (and all garages at all FIA tracks are set up for 2 car teams anyway) then we’d only have a pitiful (and contract-breaking) 12 car grid.

            F1 needs these struggling teams to stay but, unfortunately, FOM/FIA isn’t doing anything to help them. I think the only reason they stay in F1 (other than passion) is because they know that they are needed, and are just trying to keep their hand in so that when they are helped they are included in whatever the “help” is.

            1. Good points

    9. So three teams (at least) are in financial difficulties sufficient to put their participation in doubt (they certainly won’t be competitive); the EU may take a look into alleged anti-competitive practices concerning the FIA, FOM and the “strategy group”; F1 audiences, both on TV and at the circuits, are dropping; sponsors are leaving; and we’re not even sure how many races there will be this year – including the German GP! As if all this wasn’t bad enough, last year we had the spectacle of Bernie in court buying his way out of a bribery trial. And we learned that Ferrari get advantages that no other team enjoys (a huge amount of extra cash and a veto on the rules) – presumably because Ferrari believe that they would be backmarkers if they had to compete on the same terms as everyone else.

      How bad do things have to get before the penny drops and the people who run F1 realize that the whole circus is perilously close to collapse? Would Mercedes, or Honda, or Renault, or Pirelli, or the remaining sponsors, want to continue in F1 if the series becomes a laughing stock? One more problem, one more scandal, one more idiotic banana skin in the management of F1, and it could well be game over.

    10. I’m enormously glad that it appears Manor will start the season. My main concern is that with zero testing and a car that likely won’t even have been shaken down, they won’t make the 107% time in qualifying in Australia. And who knows how financially stable they really are?

      The last thing F1 needs right now is another Mastercard Lola situation.

      1. I guess the people who invested got some assurances that if they hold on for the year they can get a nice part of their budget from FOM, so there is some motivation to hang on @red-andy.

        But yeah, they really will be very much in a situation where the main talking point will focus around how many laps they can do, will they make it through 107% and will they be able to finish the race (oh, and won’t they be too much of an obstruction with blue flags).

      2. ColdFly F1 (@)
        2nd March 2015, 12:12

        @red-andy, I’m less concerned about that.

        The car is basically the same as last year’s which was shaken down more than Taylor Swift.

        Normally less than 3% behind in 2014, they have enough room to cover the 2% which Mercedes found.

        The biggest challenge is finding drivers who have some speed plus rich backers, and know how to interpret “objects that are closer than they may appear”.

      3. I suspect Manor’s motive for going to Australia is purely to fulfil the necessary requirements to claim the prize money for 2014. They may not actually have to race, nor qualify within 107% even; just present a technically compliant car, two drivers and complete any sort of lap in Q1. The prize money may well make them more viable financially for their investors.

    11. I’m enormously glad that it appears Manor will start the season. My main concern is that with zero testing and a car that likely won’t even have been shaken down, they won’t make the 107% time in qualifying in Australia. And who knows how financially stable they really are?

      The last thing F1 needs right now is another Master card Lola situation.

      1. I am dutchman
        2nd March 2015, 7:22

        I guess the people who invested got some assurances that if they hold on for the year they can get a nice part of their budget from FOM, so there is some motivation to hang on @blue-candy.
        But yeah, they really will be very much in a situation where the main talking point will focus around how many laps they can do, will they make it through 107% and will they be able to finish the race (oh, and won’t they be too much of an obstruction with pink flags)

    12. In other news, Alonso and his management have put in requests for the video of his incident as well data. Alonso has no memory of the incident and him and his medical team have real questions about his health risks, stating he only wants to be exposed to risks normally associated with being an F1 driver. What could that mean? Mclaren are denying these requests and stating the grainy video has no real value. What a great company.

      1. sir please dont rant without proof. Sir Don Rennis is a righthonorable gentlemen. He wouldn’t do something like that.

      2. source?

        1. Source? Pedro De la Rosa’s email inbox.

          1. not again )

            1. Spanish & Italian media stoking the fires again. Carlos Sainz, a personal friend & countryman of Alonso has categorically said that the incident happened “as McLaren has said it did” and there is no basis for the kind of crazy speculation that is going around. I’d rather trust his word than the Spanish “Daily Star” any day.

      3. @Baron, so you deny that Mclaren is refusing to release video of the incident based on the fact that it shows ‘nothing of value’ in their opinion? Also are you denying that McLaren has publicly flip-flopped on their version of events (specifically the concussion)?

        Also, do we know which forum members are employed by McLaren or PR companies they contract? Would be very interesting to learn.

      4. Layercake, why would Alonso and his management even need to ask McLaren for the video footage?

        The video footage was captured on the private CCTV system operated by the owners of the circuit, and therefore ownership of the footage belongs to them, not McLaren. If he wanted it, Alonso just has to approach them – there is nothing McLaren can do to block access to something they have no legal ownership of.

        Frankly, the story sounds like the usual sort of trash put out by cheap and lazy journalists trying to generate ‘click bait’ headlines…

        1. Who knows, but we do have confirmation that McLaren is in possession of a copy. One would think you would goto your team first before contacting the circuit owners directly. Its clear that with digital video there are many avenues for someone to receive a copy but I would suspect that if he has issues getting it from his own team that would hint at something quite sinister, I think you can agree on that, at least hypothetically. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle but do you really believe McLaren press statements anymore than click bait at this point? The are both equally full of hot air in 2015 – the lies about the concussion as evidence.

          1. Can you provide a reputable source to that claim that McLaren has a copy of the footage?

    13. If Arrivabene is getting to work this way and Ferrari’s push to improve F1 really takes the direction of more contact with the fans (like sitting in the grandstand during testing) then I will quickly warm towards him and the whole team.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        2nd March 2015, 12:19

        @bascb, so far he seems to be doing the right things.

        I was extremely sceptical of the guy – probably solely based on the fact that he tried to get more people to smoke in his previous career. But whilst I certainly do not have the hots for him I am warming to him as well.

        1. I was extremely sceptical of the guy – probably solely based on the fact that he tried to get more people to smoke in his previous career.

          That was pretty much my view too @coldfly, I do hope they/he keep(s) it up.

    14. Yes! Mclaren Honda clearly have the faster car & I also see them have the best car for next year. Ferrari have committed the most henious blunder by stopping development mid-way. They’ll have to face the repercussions next year, when they will play catch up against mclaren. Especially with the loss of brilliant brains,restricted testing & two hot headed Latinos, Ferrari are in for a long season next year.

      All the best to their beloved Tifosi :P

    15. Pronunciation
      3rd March 2015, 20:34

      Is Sauber pronounced like ‘sorbet’ or more like ‘panda’?

    Comments are closed.