Formula One: On and off track - week 7

Formula One: On and off track - week 7

Engine freeze, FIA due diligence, FIA License, the Silverstone Arena During the presentation of the 2010 Red Bull Racing car last week, team boss Christian Horner again warned the FIA other engine manufacturers might leave Formula One if they ...

Engine freeze, FIA due diligence, FIA License, the Silverstone Arena

During the presentation of the 2010 Red Bull Racing car last week, team boss Christian Horner again warned the FIA other engine manufacturers might leave Formula One if they don't do something to equalize engine performance. Currently there are four engine suppliers in Formula One: Ferrari, Renault, Mercedes and Cosworth. The engine freeze means that upgrading and developing an engine is not allowed, and the FIA hopes to get more equality in engine performance, while at the same time teams don't have to spend vast amounts of money on engine development. Horner about the engine disparity: "I think the Renault has some good aspects and Renault took it a bit more literally than some of the other manufacturers. I think there is disparity currently within engine performance. On a fair and equitable basis, we rely on the governing body [FIA] to ensure that you don't have large disparity between engines."

Red Bull Racing during testing at Jerez.
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Renault was already granted an engine update at the end of 2008, also because of an engine disparity. And now they want an engine upgrade again? The Renault engine is believed to be the most fuel efficient engine, but is slightly underpowered compared to the other engines, but teams with a Renault engine can start a race with less fuel onboard, which is already an advantage. Unfortunately for Horner, the FIA said it would only allow the most powerful engines, like the Mercedes engine, to be de-tuned, but other engine suppliers did not support the proposal, and therefore an agreement on engine equalization between FIA and FOTA could not be reached. And, in case you missed it, Red Bull will use the Renault engine again this season.

Campos-Meta again made the headlines this week and last week. The Spanish based and by ex-Formula One driver Adrian Campos led team has financial problems. Rumors have emerged that Campos will leave the team and co-founder Spanish entrepreneur Jose Ramon Carabante will joined forces with Bernie Ecclestone to save the team. After 2010 the team would be sold to the German VW car manufacturer, but VW sofar denies any involvement.

Looking back, it seems that ex-FIA president Max Mosley didn't do his homework in 2009, he announced that the new 2010 candidates had been selected following a process called 'due diligence'. Mosley at the time about the due diligence process: "We are using professional advisors to make checks on the substance behind any funding sources on top of obtaining reviews of pertinent contracts and other relevant documentation. Bank references have been supplied in many cases. We have requested documentary evidence to support all the new teams' assertions, in particular with regards to funding. Thus we have been provided with accounts, contracts, multi-year business plans and other supporting material."

Checking out the credentials and funding is of course a good idea, but did the FIA really select the right candidates? Campos, financially backed by Jose Ramon Carabante is in financial problems, Manor GP was sold to Richard Branson's Virgin company, Lotus is funded by AirAsia airline owner Tony Fernandes, and still no news about US F1, a team financially backed by YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley.

Isn't this remarkable? All four new teams are financially backed by business entrepreneurs, and without Vijay Mallya, Force India wouldn't exist, and Renault was saved by Genii, a private investment company. The very existence of those teams depends on those private investors, and what will they do when the going gets tough, or when the financial market slides into a slump again? Will they stay, or will they withdraw from the sport, like the car manufacturers did? I think we all know the answer...

FIA president Jean Todt announced that the FIA will introduce a license system for team principals. After ex-Renault boss Flavio Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds won their case against the FIA to overturn their ban from Formula One, the FIA has been looking for possibilities to ban 'undesirable elements' from the sport. One of the things that emerged during the court case, was that the FIA can only ban drivers or teams who have a FIA license. Briatore and Symonds had no FIA license and could therefore not be banned by the FIA according to the French court.

Jean Todt in an interview with the Italian Gazetto dello Sport: "We will re-visit the matter; particularly on the subject of licenses, we'll make sure that all team managers must have one." Todt also stressed that the court decision certainly doesn't mean Briatore and Symonds are innocent, the FIA does have evidence, and according to Todt, only one member of the WMSC voted against the ban. When the FIA will introduce such a license system, both Briatore and Symonds will have to apply for an official license, and the FIA will almost certainly not give them one, and hopefully we can leave the whole Crash-gate scandal finally behind us.

Silverstone village sign.
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Good news from the Silverstone circuit, again - after the Donington disaster - the home of the British Grand Prix for the next fifteen years. To comply with the MotoGP regulations, the circuit has build the Arena Complex, which has been designed with a view to creating three new overtaking opportunities. Although designed for MotoGP, this new part of the track, which has been approved by the Formula One Management (FOM), will also be used during the Formula One race on July 9-11 this year. The circuit length has increased with 760 metres, has now 18 corners, and the lap time will increase with approximately four seconds, and the new track design retains the essence of Silverstone, a fast and flowing, yet technically challenging circuit that the drivers love.

Silverstone has invested more than ?5 million on this new super fast circuit and they of course hope it will increase the number of spectators, the new section can accommodate up to 20,000 additional spectators. Remarkable to say the least are the comments of Damon Hill, chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club, who owns the circuit. Hill: "If you are asking me to say it's fantastic, I'm afraid I am not going to do that. I am not satisfied that we will be providing the best facility we could. It is fast, exciting corners that drivers love. It is what fans love. I have the idea of my perfect, fantasy track and that's not what we are building."

Whether Hill likes it or not, Silverstone desperately needed a total revamp, the circuit has never changed its layout since the first Grand Prix in 1950 and the pit and paddock area and the grandstands were in a deplorable state. Bernie Ecclestone in 2009 about Silverstone: "I like visiting Silverstone - it's a reminder of what racing was like in the 1950s." The time has now come to forget about the past, the circuit has to move on to secure its future. Work on Silverstone's new Pit and Paddock Complex is scheduled to be carried out between the spring of 2010 and the summer of 2011, and Silverstone will be ready for the future.

Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track".

See also: Formula One: On and off track - week 6

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers Damon Hill , Flavio Briatore , Adrian Campos , Jean Todt , Bernie Ecclestone
Teams Red Bull Racing , Force India