Britain’s Business Secretary Vince Cable is to announce grants of £133 million from the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) which aims to invest in developing and commercialising technology for future vehicles in the course of the next 10 years. The first batch of winners include Ford, Cummins, JCB and GKN.

“The next generation of cars, buses and diggers will be powered by radically different technologies and I want them to be developed here in Britain,” Dr Cable said. “These projects will be the first of many to receive funding from the new £1 billion Advanced Propulsion Centre which we set up to turn technologies into products.”

Ford is getting cash develop the EcoBoost engine, while GKN is getting £7.5 million to apply Formula 1 technology from Williams for use in buses. This was developed when Williams was looking at ideas for KERS systems. This will provide fuel savings of 25 percent for your average bus.

The Gyrodrive system is designed to save the braking energy of a bus as it slows for a stop and use it to accelerate the bus back up to speed. By avoiding wasting the energy every time a bus stops the system delivers fuel savings of 25 per cent. JCB and its partner Flybrid will receive a £3.3m grant using different Formula 1 technology in diggers.

The Business Secretary says other companies can now bid for a further £75 million from the APC.

My wife sometimes calls me “Sawar”, which is the result of a terribly nice driver in Cuba who thought that this was my first name and spent an entire day calling me that as we drove around the Valle de Viñales, looking at tobacco farms, cliffs and caves. Such mistakes are not unusual, as some countries have a tendency to put the family name first, followed by the other forenames that one is blessed with by one’s well-meaning parents. I have three, the last of which is Christopher (which, to be quite honest, I could happily live without). If one applies Chinese hotel check-in logic to this situation, you will understand how it was that on Thursday last week I became Mr Christ, first name Saward. I guess the electronic form did not have sufficient letters to make it all the way to Christopher, hardly surprising in a country that could have given the world Fu Manchu if the Birmingham-born Sax Rohmer had not got there first…

This seemed fine and dandy until I realised it was the Easter weekend, which never a good time to be called Mr Christ.

There was not much Good about Friday. The smog was horrible, the taxi driver hopeless, and when I turned on the computer at the circuit, it did a number of odd things, suggesting that something very nasty had crawled into the USB port and nibbled away at some connections. The next thing I knew, I have no Contacts, no E-Mails, no Preferences. Oh well, I thought, at least I’ve not been crucified…

In such circumstances there is only one course of action when one is in a country where one can call a policeman “Pig” and not be arrested. I went to see the FIA’s computer expert, Mr Bentley, the Rolls Royce of computer experts. He fiddled awhile (as computer experts tend to do) and declared that my Profile had been corrupted and would likely never return. However he clicked, scrolled and tapped and my address book returned and then emails began to stream out of every known virtual orifice. He even snuck in somewhere and revived a few preferences. The next time the FIA gives out their gold medals I think he should get one, rather some old codger in a blazer who has sat on a lot of committees and voted in the correct fashion at moments of crisis.

And so the weekend was survivable and four hours after the race, with GP+ already out there, despite the best efforts of the authorities to stop the uploading of scurrilous content from within its borders, we were off to Pudong International Airport, in a rush to catch the slightly-after-midnight getaway plane, a favourite among F1 folk. We were greatly aided in this task by the offer of a ride from the Mercedes Communications chief (more intelligent PR) and after a couple or three minutes in the lounge (which, given the people present, was pretty much the same as the F1 paddock, without the lakes), it was a quick seven hours of working and/or sleeping or both at the same time until we were in Dubai and I was off to the next lounge to file copy and finish off the last bits and bobs of other jobs.

Then I was off on the next plane (a blur in the memory) to be home in Paris shortly after lunch, on what was a nice sunny national holiday, thanks to a Mr Christ of yesteryear.

When I arrived in Charles de Gaulle Airport I began looking for my iPhone (groan) and realised that it was not about my person and must therefore be somewhere between Roissy-en-France and the Yangtze Delta. A small search area. As I was going through my belongings for the third time, F1 driver-turned-commentator Franck Montagny wandered up and politely enquired what was wrong. I explained and he smiled. “I lose three a year,” he said. I think that made us both feel better…

When I got home I activated the fabulous Lost iPhone app on my computer and this informed me that, allowing for some small margin of error, my phone was functioning very well in one of the creeks near Abu Dhabi. I guess it must have fallen out of the window of the Airbus A380…

Given my experience of dropping iPhones and other Apple products into liquids (and vice versa) I was not convinced and so I tried a secondary search that revealed the startling news that in the course of five minutes, the missing iPhone had swum all the way to the town of Meaux, famous only for being the home of mustard, a celebrated Brie-producing town, and a pivotal place during the Battle of the Marne. Not to mention a place on the flight path into CDG.

I wondered if perhaps ghostly signals from the iPhone had been left flying about in the atmosphere above places we had flown over, but could not come up with any scientific evidence to back up that theory.

The truth was (probably) that the iPhone had neither been stolen nor made a bid for freedom but rather had been left behind as the whirlwind called Mr Christ went flying through one airport or another.

It was my fourth iPhone of recent years: one was left on a plane in Dubai (and nicked), another was stolen in a bar at the airport in Sao Paolo and I have the third in my desk at home. Sadly this one went loco after it was dunked in the sea (albeit briefly) last summer on Cape Cod. I have no excuse for my repeat offences against iPhones except to say that at this time of year no proper F1 reporter is entirely together because of the mental abuse we have suffered in recent weeks. We have been to races in Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain and China and most of us have been home between races whenever it was possible. I’ve perhaps done less flying than some, but I think 56,018 miles in six weeks is pretty impressive, not to mention the fact that we’ve probably traversed 80 time zones. It’s a daft F1 calendar this year and I note that the men who agreed it have not been seen actually doing it. Ah well.

Yesterday was spent sorting out all the mess. Emptying out the briefcase, I found money from 12 different countries, one of which I’ve never been to (work that one out) plus a “20 percent off” laundry coupon from the Equatorial Hotel in Shanghai, and a bill that reads “Mr Saward JM Christ”.


China Cover

The Great Firewall of China is not going to stop GP+ publishing – although the Chinese are none too keen on allowing us to tell the world about their Grand Prix. There was a huge crowd in Shanghai to watch an absolutely exemplary display of driving from Lewis Hamilton, who led from lights to flag to score his 25th Grand Prix victory – and equal Jim Clark’s total of Grand Prix victories. Two more wins and he will be up with Sir Jackie Stewart. The race was a bit of a runaway victory for the Mercedes driver but there was action behind as Nico Rosberg battled his way through to take second to give Mercedes another 1-2.

This week’s GrandPrix+ features

- A chat with the new Ferrari team principal – Marco Mattiacci
- Lewis v Nico – the whole story
- Gene Haas has some odd ideas
- Ron Dennis remembers Ayrton Senna, as does Joe Saward
- And a look at a man called Boillot, who took on the mighty Mercedes team
- We look at the opening round of the Renault World Series
- DT expresses some opinions about Pastor Maldonado
- Mike Doodson looks at FIA Courts of Appeal
- JS looks for new adventures in Shanghai
- While Peter Nygaard adds some colour to the Shanghai fog

GP+ is a racing magazine like racing magazines used to be, but is published in electronic form in PDF format, so you can read it on a laptop or a tablet. We take you behind the scenes in the F1 paddock and explain what is really going on. We have forthright opinions and we don’t care if we knock noses out of joint. There are plenty of fascinating stories from Grand Prix history as well, plus great photography and old style reporting, giving you a blow-by-blow account of what happened, both in qualifying and in the race, so you have a proper record which can stay in your computer for years to come.

It’s a real bargain. You get 22 issues for £29.99, covering the entire 2014 Formula 1 season. And all for the price of a pizza and a couple of drinks. And if that is not value for money, we don’t know what is.

For more information, go to http://www.grandprixplus.com.

Because someone waved a chequered flag at Lewis Hamilton on the wrong lap, the results in Shanghai have to be changed. According to the FIA’s Article 43.2 of the Sporting Regulations, “should for any reason the end-of-race signal be given before the leading car completes the scheduled number of laps, or the prescribed time has been completed, the race will be deemed to have finished when the leading car last crossed the line before the signal was given”. This means that Kamui Kobayashi’s last-minute overtake on Jules Bianchi does not count, the race having been declared at 54 laps.

Sleepless in Shanghai

The clock says 03.15 and here in Shanghai it is pretty quiet. The elevated freeway that stretches away into the darkness is almost empty. There are only 30 cars at the intersection below my hotel window where normally there are 200. It is all 21 floors beneath me but I can still hear the occasional hooting, the sonar of Chinese driving. I find it amazing that the people do not think that hooting at three in the morning is a selfish thing to do.

Even in the darkness the city is still hazy with pollution. As I am up and unable to sleep I decided to read up on the Chinese car markets (lack of sleep does funny things to people). The country accelerated through 20 million sales last year, up nearly 14 percent on 2012. China has been the leading global market for cars for the last five years and continues to extend its lead over the United States, which registered only 15.6 million sales last year.The Chinese Passenger Car Association says that sales for the first three months of the year (the quiet period) are up 9.5 percent to 4.6 million. As a result of this boom, more and more cities are clothed permanently in smog. Six big Chinese cities now have laws to curb sales, with number-plates allocated by auctions and lotteries. The latest is Hangzhou where at the end of March the government announced plans for just such a restriction. The following day 70,000 vehicles flew out of the showrooms in the city. One need not weep for the car dealers of Hangzhou.

For those of us who travel a lot, one trend that has been obvious in recent years has been the number of Chinese and Russians travelling the world. Perhaps there will be fewer Russians now that President Vladimir Putin has donned his black hat and gone out to meet the West, with his six-guns loaded. He is pretty isolated politically but he clearly thinks that he can be a Clint Eastwood-like figure in a world that is now filled with men in white hats.

On the way over here I was reading at some point remarks made by Russia’s Finance Minster Anton Siluanov, who was warning that Russia is in a very delicate situation at the moment. In the first three months of the year the country has seen $63 billion fly out of its economy as currency traders dump their roubles.

“Continuing capital flight lowers the opportunities for economic investment and creates risk of an unbalanced budget,” Siluanov said. “The main reason for capital flight is instability in the way the geopolitical situation is developing.”

By that he means the Ukraine Crisis and he reckons that Russian GDP growth could hit zero this year as a result. And that is the crazy thing. More than anything else, Russia needs to move away from its dependence on oil and gas and yet messing in the Ukraine is driving away foreign investment in diversification – and costing Russia more money. The only kind of sense it makes, is that it gets nationalistic feelings going in the country. And maybe that is what this is all about. In theory a strong government keeps everyone under control and that allows for growth. The trouble is that a punchy government pisses off the money men.

In recent days I have been wondering more and more about the logic of holding a Russian GP in the wake of the Ukraine Crisis and I have reached the conclusion that it is best for F1 that the race does not happen because an event will upset western sponsors and will add to the unfortunate image that F1 is willing to do anything for money. One might even argue that it is also better for Russia not to have a race because all it will achieve is to promote the man who is harming his country’s economy with his actions. I know that some Russian readers will probably get upset by that suggestion and there are always going to be those with odd views such as the concept that the West is somehow to blame because it was encouraging Ukraine to do more business with the EU. What’s wrong with that? It is called the market economy. Still, I guess it is all about subtlety. If the West is the bad guy then he is a very subtle bad guy, whereas Putin’s pushing back is about as subtle as a juggernaut through the window. I think it would be better if we could all learn to live together without needing to get into such fights. It is simply a question of giving people their own space.

Oddly, I encountered the same basic problem on the plane from Dubai to Shanghai as I found myself sat next to one of those people who cannot sit in an airplane seat without spilling over into the personal space of the people beside them. Maybe he cannot help the fact that he is fat, but he should know the rules of aviation etiquette. You keep yourself in your own space, even if it uncomfortable. You do not have the right to invade the space of others. I had to bite my tongue to stop myself saying: “Excuse me, but I don’t believe you bought two tickets for this flight.” In the end, being English, I indulged in a little appeasement and made an allowance for him rather than making a scene. No doubt he will go on spreading himself around too much until someone tells him how to behave. I know that I would be embarrassed if I was spilling into someone else’s space, but I guess it goes back to the hooting thing. Some people just don’t think.

We all like getting more than others, don’t we? I am a little old-fashioned in that I think we should earn our perks. That is my philosophy and now and then it actually works. When I got the airport in Paris there was a vast queue at the check-in. I was delighted. Why? Because endless travel means that I have earned gold card status, so I can check in quickly and efficiently. And a big queue means a full plane and a much better chance that I will be kicked upstairs. It is the reward one gets for being loyal to an airline.

If you haven’t yet flown upstairs on an Emirates A380 I do recommend it highly. It really takes the sting out of long haul flights. It gives one the chance to relax and think about Vladimir Putin, rather than wasting energy wondering if one should tell the fat bloke to shift his leg…

A very smart view

I don’t know John Leicester, but I do know that he is what we call “an agency man”, with more than 20 years experience with the Associated Press, a venerable institution that is generally trustworthy. For the last five years Leicester has been a sports columnist and he has just produced a very good column called “Fuel-careful F1 less of a guilty pleasure”. I think it is something that all F1 fans should read and so I am reproducing it, in full below.

“As Earth’s atmosphere warms alarmingly and fills with heat-trapping gases, and the writing on the wall – “People, we’re in trouble!” – looms ever larger, Formula One has steadily become a guilty pleasure, the motorsport equivalent of blue whale burger or wearing panda fur. All that precious fuel going up in smoke, speed, and outrageous noise. Unsustainable and increasingly unjustifiable. So F1 deserves a pat on the back for now doing its little bit for the planet. Let’s not kid ourselves: Strapping drivers into combustion engines can never be a “green” sport. Polar bears on retreating ice sheets shouldn’t dance with joy -”We’re saved!” – simply because F1 downgraded this season from monster 2.4-liter, V8 engines to somewhat less viciously thirsty 1.6-liter, V6 turbo hybrid engines. But it is something. More than that, it recognizes that if we are to have much of a collective future, then everyone must make and accept compromises, eke out and protect resources and learn to do more with less. To cover a meager 190 miles, the length of all F1 races except the shorter Monaco Grand Prix, the V8s guzzled around 50 gallons of fuel – sometimes a bit more, sometimes less, depending on the track and conditions. That was just on race day. Now add practice and qualifying sessions, and multiply all this by 19 races a season, for a truly staggering fuel bill. In the real world, a midsize Toyota Prius hybrid might cover about 2,500 miles on those same 50 gallons, almost enough to cross the United States from Washington DC to Los Angeles, according to fuel economy figures for that model from the U.S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency. F1 wouldn’t be F1 without excess. Fans worldwide wouldn’t tune in for World Champion Sebastian Vettel driving a Prius. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone got fabulously rich with the sales pitch of bigger, faster, costlier, noisier equals vroooom. “Rush,” director Ron Howard’s glorification of 1976 world champion James Hunt has the notorious bad boy of F1 mouth-rinsing with champagne and puffing on an illegal-looking cigarette before races in his early Formula Three days. Swap the risk and glamour of F1 for quiet-as-a-mouse electric engines and showers of dandelion tea on the podium and you can be sure that petrol-heads would walk away. But as road cars become more fuel efficient, with electric and hybrid-engine technology making increasing inroads, F1 needed to reconnect with its time or risk becoming an anachronism, racing on regardless the costs to the environment. This season’s switch to fantastically complex hybrid engines puts F1 back ahead of the technological curve. That is exactly where the sport must be to retain fans and stay relevant in today’s energy-challenged world. The engines still generate most of their power from burning fuel but also recuperate and reuse far more energy from braking and exhaust gases than the previous V8 cars and their KERS energy-recovery systems. New rules slash by about one-third the amount of fuel that teams use in the cars and also limit the rate at which they burn it. Again, that doesn’t make them anywhere near green. The 100-kilogram-per-race allotment of fuel would still get a Prius from Paris to Moscow. But at least F1 can now argue that it is going in the right direction. If improvements in fuel economy, engine technology, energy recovery and hybrid-power know-how also bleed over into future road cars, F1 will be able to stick that feather in its cap, too. Critics who loved the fiery crackle of throaty V8s complain that the new engines are too quiet. But that nostalgia over-plays the supposed link between engine noise and the appeal of F1. The V6s certainly sound different, with a top-end squeal like a dentist’s drill. That will take getting used to. Ultimately, however, what makes F1 watchable – or not – isn’t noise but the quality and closeness of the racing. V8 races may have been loud. But many of them were boring, too. Also misleading is the argument that F1 drivers shouldn’t need to economize fuel or tires and instead should be able to race flat-out from first lap to last. Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo is in this camp – itself a good indicator of how poorly his team has adapted to the new regime. But not every race needs non-stop wheel-to-wheel action to be interesting. In fact, you’d be naive and sorely disappointed if you expect that. The unfolding chess game during races of teams balancing the need for speed with the need to make tires and fuel last, the strategies they employ and adapt to squeeze the most out of those resources, make F1 a more cerebral sport. Fuel economy isn’t beside the point – for F1 or for any of us. It is the point. It must be.

I read that some talking head from the Italian Olympic Committee has come out and talked about Formula 1, in support of Ferrari’s campaign to have Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen ride dinosaurs around the Circus Maximus. I have some advice for him: Go away, shut up and worry about your own sport. If that seems uncharitable, I can only say this: What would his reaction be if Bernie Ecclestone or Jean Todt got up and started spouting on about doping in international athletics? I gave up watching athletics and cycling years ago because I did not trust anything about either sport. It would be nice to believe in them because athletic endeavour and physical achievements can be inspiring, but too many champions have tested positive over the years…

So, Mr Malvolio, or whatever your name is, slide away somewhere and do something positive for your own sport and don’t mess in Formula 1.

I think Ferrari is a great thing for the sport. It a legend and its fans are filled with passion. All over the world there are Ferrari fans. Terrific. However, I really do not like the current attempts to manipulate the sport simply because the Italian team cannot compete with Mercedes Benz in terms of engine design. Sorry, if that does not quite fit the Ferrari image of great engineering, but if you live by the sword, you have to be prepared to get stuck in the ribs as well.

Ferrari competes in F1 with a number of unfair advantages and if there was some logical thinking going on down there someone would have realised that if there is one team that would gain from a cost cap, it is Ferrari. Why? Because it is smaller than the big manufacturers like Renault and Mercedes Benz, so when it comes to ramping up costs to win, it cannot compete. It even struggles against the soda pop manufacturer Red Bull.

So, if Ferrari was being sensible, it would be in favour of a cost cap…

But, of course, if there was a cost cap, Ferrari would probably need to give up its advantages. We don’t know for certain what these are, because these things are secret, but we do know that under the terms of the last Concorde Agreement that ran from 2009 to 2012 that the Italian team got 2.5 percent of the F1 prize fund, off the top, before anyone else got a taste of anything. While some argue that this is grossly unfair, Ferrari says that it should be rewarded for the power of its brand, which is synonymous with Formula 1. You can be absolutely sure that the new deals that last from 2013-2020 will not have given Ferrari any less money – and the likelihood is that the company got a bigger slice of the pie, straight out of the oven.

What does this advantage actually mean? Well, folks, it means that in 2011, for example, the prize fund was around $682 million. That meant that before this was divided up Ferrari was handed a cheque for $17.5 million. If you do the numbers based on that year’s prize fund: Red Bull Racing earned $98.8 million for winning the championship. McLaren got $88.6 million for coming second and Ferrari made $95.8 million for coming third. How is that fair?

These days there is no such thing as a Concorde Agreement and the sport is based on bilateral agreements between the Commercial Rights Holder and each individual team. The deals may be based on the terms of the old Concorde Agreement but the numbers involved are not known. The details are locked away in safes.

What we do know is that until 2020 Ferrari has a right of veto in respect of the introduction/modification of any technical or sporting regulations (except for safety requirements). There are some conditions that must be met in order for this veto to be used including the proviso that the veto can only be used if it is not prejudicial to the traditional values of the championship and/or the image of the FIA, and that Ferrari considers that the new regulations are likely to have a substantial impact on its “legitimate interest”.

Let us not just blame Ferrari for this because this situation was not arrived at without the complicity of others, looking after their vested interests, and it is fairly clear that Red Bull Racing has some kind of similar financial deal, and probably others have had their deals sweetened as well, either with a signing bonus or a year-by-year deal.

Is that the right way to run the sport? Would it not be so much better if all of this was transparent and in the open and everyone got the same? I am in favour of success being rewarded, but I think it would be better to have a prize fund that operated on the basis of points-per-dollar involved, rather than just World Championship points. That way the smaller teams would be rewarded from their efficiency and the successful smaller teams would be legitimately rewarded for success achieved. It would also be an incentive for the bigger teams to bring down their spending.

That way there would be a solid field of competitors, no dodgy side deals and a feeling that there was a level playing field.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 32,155 other followers