Formula One - On and Off Track week 11

Formula One - On and Off Track week 11

By: Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent

Story Highlights

  • Kubica faces uncertain future
  • Senna - The Movie at SXSW Festival
  • More and more doubts about Bahrain GP
  • Rumors claim HRT F111 is not ready

Robert Kubica faces uncertain future

Robert Kubica faces a long recovery according to his doctors and his manager. Kubica again underwent surgery on his elbow last week carried out by specialist elbow surgeon Prof. Luigi Celli. A statement from the hospital read: “It was decided that noteworthy elbow specialist Prof. Luigi Celli should operate on the elbow to improve its functionality. Prof. Celli expressed his satisfaction with what has already been done and said he will be available Saturday to rehabilitate the functionality of the elbow.”

Kubica faces uncertain future
Kubica faces uncertain future

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Renault’s team doctor Riccardo Ceccarelli admitted Kubica has a long way to go before he can return to Formula One. “Nobody has a clear idea of when he will be ready,” he said. But also said Kubica is still making progress, “His physical and psychological recovery is encouraging and all the doctors at Pietra Ligure Hospital are surprised when they see how quickly he is recovering from everything.”

Although reports about Kubica’s recovery have so far been optimistic, it still questionable whether the 26-year old Pole will be fit to race again. “Even the surgeons don’t know because they say we need some months to see the recovery of the muscle tissue and the nerves, which varies from person to person. All we know that it will be a long recovery, but we have no idea how long. We see his progress day by day, but we can’t make any predictions,” Ceccarelli said.

We can’t make any predictions

Riccardo Ceccarelli

The main concern seems to be Kubica’s hand, which was almost severed during his horrific accident during the Ronde di Andorra, now almost six weeks ago. “He is moving fingers, moving the wrist. That is positive, and we cannot predict anything else. The main fracture was in the arm and everything follows with the improvement of that, with the elbow and the hand,” Ceccarelli said. Asked whether Kubica needs more surgery he said: “I would say no at the moment because everything is going very well and there have been no complications.”

After his accident Kubica underwent a total of 24 hours of surgery, which is also an indication he had sustained severe and complicated injuries to his right arm and hand. He also sustained injuries to his right hip and ankle, and he is still not able to stand on his own legs without any aid. Renault has indicated Kubica will stay at the Pietra Ligure Hospital and will follow an extensive rehabilitation program.

Ceccarelli about the decision, “We decided to stay in Pietra Ligure because there is a full medical team looking after him, so the care he is getting is first class. There are highly skilled physiotherapists for his kind of injuries, who are working with him for many hours each day, and for the moment the best solution is for him to stay there.”

Senna - The Movie at SXSW Festival in Austin

The movie “Senna” about the life of the legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, will be shown during the 2011 SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The Senna movie already won the World Cinema Audience Award for Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, and it will be no surprise tickets for the premiere last Saturday were already sold out last month.

Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna

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The movie will be shown again on March 17 in the Paramount Theatre for visitors of the SXSW Film Festival, but due to the limited number of tickets available, this second screening has also sold out. The movie was directed by British filmmaker Asif Kapadia and the documentary has already made a successful debut in Brazilian, Japanese and Italian cinemas.

One of the VIP guests in Austin was Austin Grand Prix promoter Tavo Hellmund, who joined Kapadia for a panel discussion about the film and life of the Brazilian racing legend. The Williams Formula One team brought one of its cars to Austin and it was at display during the reception after the first screening in the Paramount Theatre.

The movie will make its general debut in the UK on June 3, there will be an official first screening one month earlier on Tuesday May 3, at the Curzon Mayfair in London. The movie will be released on May 12 in Germany, on May 20 in Spain and on May 25 in France.

Tavo Hellmund, Austin GP promoter
Tavo Hellmund, Austin GP promoter

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A very interesting movie for the younger Formula One fans, especially for those who never witnessed the great Brazilian champion at work on Grand Prix circuits all over the world. It is impossible to describe what Senna was, and still is, for Formula One, and it is impossible to capture or describe the charismatic personality of a man who’s life came to a tragic end on May 1 1994 during the San Marino Grand Prix. The movie contains so far unseen and unique footage, and interviews with several members of the Senna family. A must see for every race fan, young and old.

More and more doubts about the Bahrain Grand Prix

Bernie Ecclestone’s hope to reschedule the Bahrain Grand Prix has suffered a big blow yesterday, when King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain declared a three- month state of emergency. The Bahrain TV stated: “Due to the ongoing circumstances in Bahrain ... King Hamad has announced a state of national emergency as of Tuesday for three months.” Not much later armored troops from the neighboring countries Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates rolled into the tiny Gulf state to help the King to solve his problems with the many protesters who have taken possession of the Pearl roundabout in the capital Manama.

The support of foreign troops was already an ominous sign the King of Bahrain might be prepared to use violence against his own citizens, unfortunately these suspicions were confirmed today when the news broke that soldiers and the riot police had launched an assault on protesters occupying the Pearl roundabout. Several sources reported three protesters were killed and dozens were wounded. Officials of the Bahraini opposition today described the situation as ‘catastrophic’.

Bahrain International Circuit
Bahrain International Circuit

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The FIA and FOM have given Bahraini officials until May 1 to resolve their political problems and decide whether the Bahrain Grand Prix can safely take place this year, but with the state of emergency declared until the end of May, and with the current developments in mind, it becomes increasingly more unlikely Formula One will travel to Bahrain this year. The possibilities to slot in the Bahrain Grand Prix later this year were already slim, and the increasing violence which is used to muzzle the pro-democratic protesters makes it virtually inconceivable FIA or FOM would or could make a positive decision before May 1.

Ecclestone about the situation, “Formula One must never be political - full stop. My job is it to do the best deals possible for Formula One - to secure jobs.” And added, “Five thousand people have jobs which are directly or indirectly connected to Formula One, and I want to secure these jobs. It is not my business to make politics. We have politicians for that.”

Formula One must never be political

Bernie Ecclestone

So, Ecclestone doesn’t want to get ‘involved in politics’, but what does ‘involved’ mean? Involved means people do care about other people, and don't care about the FOM missing out on the 30 million Euro race fee from Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain. After the Bahrain Grand Prix had been postponed earlier this month, many drivers and teams have hinted they do care about what is going on in this world, and that has nothing to do with 'getting involved' in politics, but has everything to do with 'ethics'.

Even for Formula One it is impossible to ignore what is going on in this world, that is just not acceptable anymore this day and age. The FIA today announced they will maintain the May 1 deadline, but even if the riots would stop before May 1, it still wouldn’t be a good idea to go to Bahrain. There is an old saying: “Peace sometimes means having a bigger stick than the other guy,” which could very well apply to the situation in Bahrain, and the only right decision would be to cancel the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix altogether.

Rumors claim HRT F111 is not ready

HRT announced last Friday, the same day they launched their new F111, they could not participate in the last days of testing, because a vital part of the car, the dampers, were not released by Spanish customs. Colin Kolles, Hispania Racing Team Principal: “Unfortunately we could not get the dampers out of customs. The result of this is that we can’t run tomorrow. This is life and we will overcome this problem.”

The HRT Formula One team last week at Barcelona
The HRT Formula One team last week at Barcelona

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That announcement made a few people laugh, but made others frown, wasn’t the testing in their home country Spain, Barcelona to be precise, so why on earth would Spanish customs refuse to clear the much needed parts? And why did the car get through customs, and the dampers not? And what did Spanish customs had to do with it anyway? A lot of unanswered questions remained.

The Spanish outfit has been plagued by financial problems from day one of their existence, and last year Karun Chandhok was ousted in favor of paying driver Sakon Yamamoto, who not much later (presumably when ran out of sponsor money) suffered from a sudden inexplicable food poisoning and was replaced by Christian Klien. Yamamoto looked very healthy that weekend, and he was even spotted in the HRT garage, watching how Klien took over his race seat.

There are other teams who are more desperate than we are

Collin Kolles

Reporters and photographers who observed the new F111 last week, concluded it bore a striking resemblance with the 2010 car, could it be the F111 that was shown is in fact the 2010 chassis with new body parts? HRT also attended the previous pre-season test with the old car, but Kolles maintains HRT’s future is, financially speaking, secured.

In an interview with the German online Autobild Magazine yesterday, Kolles argued that there would be more money available for struggling teams, if there would only be ten teams on the grid. Kolles, “With only ten teams on the grid there’s more security for the teams, as the revenues are shared by ten teams instead of 12. That would give us more security [money-wise] and that would be better for the sport.” Asked whether HRT would still be in Formula One with only ten teams on the grid, he replied: “To be honest I think so, there are other teams who are more desperate than we are.”

Join us again next week for another episode of “Formula One: On and off track”

Formula One - On and Off Track week 10

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers Ayrton Senna , Karun Chandhok , Christian Klien , Robert Kubica , Sakon Yamamoto , Colin Kolles , Bernie Ecclestone
Teams Williams
Tags austin grand prix, bahrain, ceccarelli, hrt, kubica, renault, senna