The big news of the last few days came from Geneva late last week when David Campbell, the CVC-appointed head of Allsport Management, left his role at Allsport management after just over a year. He had taken over to replace Patrick McNally. Allsport oversees trackside signage, official supplier deals and “The Paddock Club”, F1′s VIP hospitality operation. Campbell joined Allsport after a career which involved working for Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, being group chief executive at Chris Evans’s Ginger Media Group, running the Ministry of Sound and later the London Tourist Board. He joined the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) in 2005 and made his name by turning the Millennium Dome into The O2 entertainment facility, which opened in 2007. It was clear from quite early on that Campbell and Ecclestone were not a good combination. The word is that the most likely replacement is Australian Judith Griggs, who is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Allsport. She has been involved in Formula 1 since 1985 when she worked as a lawyer for the inaugural Australian GP in Adelaide. She was then hired by Ecclestone and transformed his business operations in the late 1980s. She then returned to Australia to become the CEO of the Australian GP in Melbourne before returning to Europe 12 years ago to work with McNally.
Meanwhile there are hints of change to come at Ferrari where Luca di Montezemolo is now actively building up his centre-left movimento called Italia Futura (IF), which he is transforming into a political party in the run-up to the next Italian general election which will be in 13 months. Montezemolo has the advantage of not being seen as a politician in a country that is fed up of its political classes. At the moment the country is being run by the unelected economist Mario Monti. He leads a government of technocrats that was put together to save Italy’s economic situation and is supported by the political parties, largely because they are worried about going to the polls. Montezemolo is hoping to sweep into the vacuum with a party untainted by the old faces and old ideas of Italian politics. He is currently recruiting and a number of his people come from the Formula 1 world: notably Simone Perillo, who was head of FOTA, but is now in charge of Institutional Relations at IF. Another name that has popped up is that of Manfredi Ravetto, who was working with Colin Kolles to try to put HRT on the right track before the Spaniards decided to do their own thing. He has been appointed the head of Italia Futura in the Veneto region.
The testing in Barcelona failed to reveal much with six-tenths of a second covering the first 14 drivers. Kimi Räikkönen was fastest of all in the Lotus-Renault with a best of 1m22.030s, while Mark Webber was 14th quickest in the Red Bull, with a best of 1m 22.662s. Between the two were Sergio Perez (Sauber), with a 1m22.094s; Jenson Button (McLaren), 1m22.103s; Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), 1m22.155s; Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 1m22.250s; Bruno Senna (Williams), 1m22.296s; Nico Hülkenberg (Force India), 1m22.312s; Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber), 1m22.386s; Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 1m22.413s; Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), 1m22.430s; Paul di Resta (Force India), 1m22.446s; Romain Grosjean (Lotus), 1m22.614s and Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham), 1m22.630s.
Elsewhere two motor racing figures have died in recent days. Peter Agg,a Formula 1 team owner, albeit briefly, in the 1970s, has died at 82 and Robert Fearnall, a key figure in the history on Donington Park, has died at 57.
Agg used some of the wealth from his family’s wine business to buy the right to sell Lambrettas in the British market and from there went on to acquire the Trojan car company and the licence to sell Heinkel Bubble Cars in the UK. In addition he bought the Elva sports car company and began to manufacture customer racing cars for McLaren. Later Trojan took on Ron Tauranac, who had just left Brabham, to design a Trojan T101 for Formula 5000. The first of these appeared in March 1973 and several were raced in Formula 5000 that year, notably by Jody Scheckter, Bob Evans and Keith Holland. The Trojan T102 followed for Formula 5000 in 1974 and the T103 was a Formula 1 car – which was run in selected Grands Prix that year with Tim Schenken driving. The timing was bad because of the Oil Crisis and the team closed after just a season. The Trojan company did, however, manufacture around 200 McLarens over a 10-year period.
Fearnell started his career in racing as a journalist with Autosport magazine but then moved on to become the Press Officer at Silverstone and to co-drive James Hunt on the 1973 Tour of Britain. He then became associated with Donington Park, helping Tom Wheatcroft to revive the circuit from 1979 onwards. He would later became managing director and eventually took over all of Donington’s promotion with his Two-Four Sports company.