The latest odds and ends

There is a generation of young New Zealand drivers who have been making an impression of late in the upper echelons of single seater racing in Europe: Mitch Evans just won the GP3 title, Richie Stanaway was competing in the Renautl World Series up until June when he suffered two fractured vertebrae after a nasty shunt in the rain at Spa where he went over the back of another car on the long drag up the hill to Les Combes and was hurt when the car crashed back to earth. He is taking things easy at the moment but wants to be back in action again in the final races of the year. he is now managed by Eric Boullier’s Gravity Management so he is in good hands. In addition Brendan Hartley is now picking up the pieces after being dumped from the Red Bull young driver programme, in true Red Bull style. At the time he was an F1 reserve driver for Red Bull and doing good work on the team’s simulators. He has since been picked up by Mercedes AMG Petronas to do similar work and after a year doing that he is being given the chance to drive a real F1 car at the Young Driver test at Magny-Cours.

“It’s a great chance for me to prove myself and work alongside the race team but ultimately I am there to help develop the race car, and to correlate and validate the simulator,” he said. “Two years ago it was difficult to believe I would have another chance to drive for a top Formula 1 team, I have worked hard behind the scenes with Mercedes and have stayed motivated and focused. I feel much more prepared in comparison to my first Formula 1 test in 2008 when I was just 18 and fresh out of Formula 3. Since then I have learnt a lot about, both myself and the business of racing, and I will do my best to make the most of this opportunity!”

While the tests have been going on at Magny-Cours, Paul Ricard has tried to remain in the spotlight and this morning the French media was reporting in France that both Paul Ricard and Magny-Cours are making bids for the French Grand Prix with the Fédération Française du Sport Automobile. The two tracks are expected to try to create an event that alternates with a foreign event, but the two will not be working together. Bonkers.

Paul Ricard wants a late August date, presumably aiming to alternate with Spa, in the longer term. The local authorities have raised around $12.8 million a year, the money having been collected from regional governments and chambers of commerce and there is no need for any state aid. The Paul Ricard consortium includes the département of the Var, the city of Toulon, the combined communes of Sainte Baume and the Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie of the Var. Their goal is develop business and tourism in the region. The crowd at Paul Ricard would have to be small as the capacity of the track is just 60,000, of which two-thirds would be in grandstands and the rest general admission. The goal is to charge entry at only €50, with grandstands starting at €220 for the weekend. This they hope will guarantee revenues of at least $12 million, while the local money would be used to pay the other costs of the event. The authorities would also need to guarantee the money and it seems that they are willing to do this.

Magny Cours’s bid is less clear but will involve the same kind of consortium.

It is not clear why the two bids cannot be combined.

All of this is dependent on Bernie Ecclestone agreeing to one project or the other and to the finances. Both tracks have been trying to construct packages with their local governments from their different regions and from French sponsors. It remains to be seen whether Ecclestone will accept the bid.

The word is that Ecclestone wants to have 22 races in 2013. Valencia will disappear because there is no money and we are hearing that the new races will be New Jersey, France and Turkey. The teams who have signed the new Concorde Agreement have agreed to 20 races a year with a number of possible extras. This will make the season ever more tough and expensive, but the teams like the idea because they can earn more. The scheduling needs to be such that races are back to back and so overall costs are reduced, but it remains to be seen whether there really are 22 viable races.

39 thoughts on “The latest odds and ends

  1. Turkey’s back?! When did they find a load of money? When will they find a load of spectators come to think of it…

    Was actually quite tempted by Valencia next year given that there was a decent race this year.

    Like Magny Cours and Ricard, but not if it reduces Spa’s chances of staying on. Rename either Monaco or Spa the French grand prix and it will massage their ego enough for them to not care its not actually in France…(Yes Joe it’s not actually true, I’ve never paid taxes in France etc etc)

      1. Wasn’t Le Castellet/Paul Ricard rumoured to now be in the possession of Slavica Ecclestone after the divorce. Any idea if this is the truth or not Joe?

    1. I know nothing about any details, but I certainly hope the Turkey race can work…

      Two reasons for my bias: (1) that turn, and (2) the Turks seem to have figured out how to have a mainly Islamic society that features both positive, constructive attitudes and a sane and sensible gov’t… which seem to be difficult things to do these days… respect to them for all of that.

      (Of course, in the U.S. we don’t hear much about them, simply because they don’t generate video clips of carnage, so therefore our so-called news people think nothing there matters…)

  2. Does Evans’ involvement with Mark Webber’s GP3 team give him a leg up on the others? Both Fisi and the Kimster had junior teams but never seemed to elevate any of the drivers aside from Bruno Senna.

    1. Hartleys’s money supply ran out, Evans has a lot of backing so can fund decent drives. Stanaway is the great kiwi hope. Renault/Gravity paying all of his racing bills. He’s been told to sit out this year, fully recover and not to worry. As long as he carries on his upward trend in his racing, he should be the next ‘Boullier boy’.

  3. No chance of Paul Ricard and Magny Cours alternating with each other? If both are being funded by separate consortia with money from separate regional governments and locals authorities, what’s to stop there being a French GP every year (barring calendar issues, of course)?

  4. It’s gratifying to hear some good Kiwi drivers are budding through.

    One chilly morning I was approaching Oulton Park for a race-day, when I was stopped in my tracks by the sound of a solitary F3 car approaching and attacking Lodge Corner. I was still outside the track, couldn’t see anything, just the sound told me this driver was special.

    Once inside, I discovered it was the March F3 Team, who’d booked a private session for teenager Mike Thackwell.

    There hasn’t been a NZ F1 driver since Mike turned his back on racing. (A bit of a Hunt/Kimi-type personality).

    Far too long ago. Come on you Kiwis!

    1. There’s no better sound than that solitary engine, reving up the track.
      The mind immediately wonders at who, what, how fast, and wish it was me, instead.

    2. Ah yes I remeber Mike Thackwell, he had his nerves removed and knew no fear on the track. It was in BTCC, he often used to win but it all seemed to be a bit boring for him. “Yeah I won, so what” Oulton Park, a beautiful circuit.

      1. I think that mclaren should do something to support some young and upcoming kiwi drivers given the obvious link that mclaren has with new zealand.

      2. Thackwell made it to F1, but then seemed to lose interest, and became a Bournemouth beach-bum instead. Setting up a surf-shop, and did a bit of heli piloting to support his new venture. His own man, like Hunt and Kimi.

  5. Thanks for mentioning the young Kiwi drivers – it’s tough for our boys to catch a break these days – things looked good when Colin Giltrap funded the A1GP NZ team (and if rumours are correct, helped fund the series to enable it to complete its final year), and Red Bull adopting Hartley, but then it all seemed to vanish for a while.

    Good on Mark Webber for helping Mitch Evans – really impressed with his support of him!

    1. Colin Giltrap and his family continue to support young Kiwi drivers. The Giltrap company name is on Mitch Evans’ helmet and suit (and car I think?).

      Great to see Mark Webber mentoring him too. He is living in a cottage on Webber’s estate in England and training with him and picking his brain at every opportunity I hope.

  6. Turkey? I assume that is just a placeholder for 2013 to pad the calendar until Russia arrives (presumably in 2014) ?

    Hopefully Bernie can knock some French heads together and have them come up with a sensible plan to alternate between the 2 tracks. With noone having a huge pot of money available to fund a race it would seem like a far better option than having no race in France at all.

  7. Are there many circuits in NZ?
    My neighbour’s daughter is out there ATM but it would be useless to ask her.
    How about an NZ GP? An earthquake or two could enliven a dull race. In the last few weeks there has been a volcanic erruption and three earthquakes.

    1. Yep there is quite a few good race tracks here in NZ, many which used to hold the NZ GP back in the day, and still do (Mansfield in Fielding is one of the only tracks in the world to host a “GP” without it being F1).
      Taupo raceway was built upto FIA standards to host the A1GP from 06-09, while there are a few under renovation and still more which are character tracks but are a little underdeveloped.

      I think that taking the piss out of our fragile tectonic situation however is rather distasteful, seeing as it has just been the 2nd anniversary of the 2010 Christchurch earthquake last week. Why not stage it in Iceland, or Hawaii, or Haiti, if that be the case? And what dull races do we realistically have these days anyhow?

      1. No offence mate, it’s just that I had not realised that in fact you have lesser earthquakes almost every week (In Wellington at least).
        Were circumstances different I would very much like to visit and and tour the tracks.

    2. As Dylan said there are quite a few tracks in NZ, we also have quite a strong racing tradition in both tin tops and open wheelers.

      As far as FIA graded tracks we have:
      Grade 2: Taupo, Hampton Downs
      Grade 3: Pukekohe, Manfield, Ruapuna Park, Teretonga Park, Timaru Raceway.

      There may be more, but that is what Wikipedia has listed – I know it’s a joke but New Zealand is large enough that the chances of being effected by a natural disaster are pretty slim.

      1. Kiwi drivers have a strong tradition in F1 F5000 design too.
        One thinks of Bruce McLaren, George Begg, Chris Amon, and McRae.

        The pressure to perform comes on them when they hit Blighty, so they feature beyond their numbers.

  8. 20 races is too many IMO, it starts to diminish the value of winning races. 17 always felt about right.

    Dropping Spa from the calendar, or alternating it with another race, is madness. Why can’t F1 just prop it up and leave it on there for the fans? The FIA conducted a poll a few years ago and found that Spa was the fans favourite track (by a long way). But no, lets go racing in Bahrain instead. I understand the need to pay the bills, but what about the need to keep eyes glued to the TV screens? Spa surely does ok in that regard.

    I do like the idea of two US races though. That is a country with a rich racing heritige that deserves to be on the calendar. Same with France.

    Props to Webber for looking after Mitch Evans, he’s done a lot for his career (and read what Webber did for Will Power, it’s incredible).

    Webber seems like the kind of guy that wants to give something back to F1 (and fellow up and coming drivers) as it’s obviously given so much to him. He has no sense of entitlement nor feels that F1 owes him anything. A few other drivers could learn a thing or two from that, Hamiltons recent contract negotiations spring to mind…

    1. It will be interesting to see if Mitch Evans can manage to get into a competitive team in GP2 or Renault 3.5, I doubt he has much of a budget. Hopefully Arden will give him a discount.

      1. The target for Mitch is GP2, perhaps because of the Pirelli money … 200K. You are right he does not have much of a budget and the budget for GP2 is huge, almost impossible.

        MW Arden have already given Mitch a huge discount this year and also helped find backers. Mitch also lives free of charge at one of the most beautiful spots in England, you can see it in a vitamin advert that MW did.

        Mitch also has another backer and I’m hoping he can help, Kiwi’s know the man.

        I’m not a Kiwi, btw.


        1. Yep he’s backed by Colin Giltrap who owns quite a few car yards in Auckland – worth about 300 million dollars so while he has deep pockets they probably aren’t quite deep enough to fund an F1 drive.

  9. “It remains to be seen if there are 22 viable races.” This is why I am finally going to the Korean Grand Prix this year, despite having lived here for more than a decade-I honestly don’t believe there will be another race after 2012.
    One race down, one more to get rid of…

  10. Joe do you think that mclaren should do something to support some young and upcoming kiwi drivers given the obvious link that mclaren has with new zealand, or did the p4/ marlboro merger kind of kill most of that connection ?

  11. We really need a french grands prix, F1 without it is redicules. 22 gps by 2013 sounds great to me a longer season to enjoy, a tougher season for journalists and the teams….more money in the kitty….

  12. With three weeks between the likely New Jersey date and Silverstone, I guess there’s a chance the French GP could appear the week before the British GP, if anywhere. It would be difficult to fit it around the mid-season break in August when there are already back-to-back races before and after it. Turkey could fit in just by making Spain and Monaco back to back as happened in 2011.

    Also, I must admit I am quite biased to this French GP viewpoint as I’m living in Paris until 2 July so it would be great to see a French GP before I leave!

  13. Anyone musing on exactly why all of a sudden there are three Kiwi hotshoes in Europe doing well (in between damaging their backs etc…). The common factor for all three is the Toyota Racing Series, five three-race rounds in five weeks in the middle of the antipodean summer while Europe shivers under sleet and snow (and in the case of some categories a testing ban). Josh Hill, Will Stevens, William Buller, Felix Serralles, Alex Lynn could all tell you more about that…

  14. Hi! With a team principle also involved with a driver management agency, are not the individuals involved and the formula 1 team in danger of being exposed to conflict of intrest litigation?


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