India and F1

We flew out of Singapore about eight hours after the race, having gone straight from the Press Office to the airport at Small O’Clock. Breakfast in the lounge consisted in some cases of cornflakes and in others a glass of Chardonnay, highlighting the bizarre nature of the time-keeping in Singapore . People were living on completely different clocks and for those on Singapore time it had been a VERY long day. The moment we were on the plane we were asleep. When we touched down in Dubai I was amused to see that a colleague was sitting two seats away and neither of us had even noticed because we were so bushwhacked.

Back in Paris, the first job was the Indian visa, always one of the most disagreeable tasks of the year because if that country’s fixation with make life difficult for itself. They have tried to modernise the system using online forms, although I still don’t see why they need to know where one’a parents were born. Anyway the online system did not work at all. I spent the entire morning filling in the over-complicated online form no fewer than three times having been told to do it with different browsers. None of them worked. I even did it on different computers. I rang the helpline about 10 times and was hung up on in three of the calls. What a brilliant advertisement for India…

It is this kind of thing that has led to the race being dropped from the calendar next year. Oddly enough, ask around the F1 paddock and it is hard to find anyone who really wants to go to India, least of all the teams. The race is probably dead. I don’t know why it has to be like this but a lot of my dealings with India seem to end up in similar messes… It is a great shame because demographically India is the future for the world economy. However if that is going to happen there needs to be some serious reform to get everything working without rubber-stampers wrapping it all up in needless bureaucracy.

The gossip in the Singapore paddock was plentiful but the reality was thin on the ground. I believe that Jenson Button re-signed for McLaren, but no announcement was made. I expect Nico Hulkenburg to sign for Lotus soon and I have a feeling that we could see Adrian Sutil at Sauber.

Felipe Massa is hoping to get a ride somewhere, but the opportunities are thin on the ground. The good news for Felipe is that Mr E needs a Brazilian and will be very supportive as there are no real alternatives, as it seems that GP2 driver Felipe Nasr (which bizarrely rhymes with Massa) does not yet seem to be ready. However if he has the cash – and rumours suggest he does – he could find a berth somewhere at the back end where drives are traded.

123 thoughts on “India and F1

  1. I read comments that F1 would prosper if the cash flowed more equitably to the teams instead of to CVC.
    However when you read that no team wants to go to India, or similar, then calculations would show that but for Mr E’s consummate deal making skills the cash raised would be far less and that a Mr E.less FOM would produce far less income so there would be no great extra pool of cash to distribute to the teams.
    I mean start adding up where the teams would prefer not to go, plus those where they would like to go but the tracks cannot meet the demands of Mr E. and it is soon a simple add up to much less dosh.
    This is not from a paid up fan club member of Mr E. although I did see him race at Crystal Palace in 1953 but just a commentary on the current state without ready reference to the split of income but stands to reason Mr E. has pushed out the envelope and all below him have prospered. If you want more income spend less.
    Otherwise F1 will end up like the Americas Cup but perhaps that proves all one needs is 2 competitors………

    1. The America’s Cup had more than two competitors. They were eliminated in the Louis Vuitton Cup phase of the competition.

      1. Correct, but only two teams got eliminated for Team NZ to make the final, and one of them had already given up advancing due to the loss of a team mate. Not exactly packed with competition.

        If Oracle wins tomorrow, it would have to be the greatest comeback since Easter Sunday.

      2. This America’s cup has had fewer legitimate competitors than recent cups. The US defenders and New Zealand were so far ahead of any opposition, they may as well have be racing in a different category.

        It would be as if there were only 4 teams in the F1 championship, Ferrari, Red Bull, Caterham and Maurisa.

        The poster is not wrong in suggesting F1 is on a similar trajectory. Though I’d disagree with his holding Bernie blameless. If Bernie cared about building the sport and garnering younger fans instead of auctioning races to the highest bidder, the sport could be far healthier.

          1. All Americas Cups have only two competitors. There is a defender and a challenger. The challenger is decided in a different competition called the Louis Vuitton Cup.

            1. Louis Vuitton Cup only if there are more than 2 challengers and there have been 2 recent absences of the challengers event which is part of the Americas Cup Deed of Gift. Go read the regulations Joe.

              1. The Louis Vuitton Cup this year featured three contenders: Artemis Racing (Sweden), Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand), and Luna Rossa Challenge (Italy).

                There was no Cup in 2011 because legal actions resulted in Louis Vuitton setting up a separate racing series unrelated to the Cup. The Cup was a straight match race.

                The 2007 the Louis Vuitton Cup featured 11 contenders.

                In 2003 the contest featured nine teams.

                In 2000 there were 11 teams. And so on…

                The rules change depending on who wins the Cup but Louis Vuitton has kept up the competition despite this.

  2. Joe,
    Being Indian, all I can say is that countries such as the US, the UK, and occasionally the Schengen nations make it equally difficult for us to apply for visas. In fact, the UK has now made it mandatory to deposit 3000 pounds in order for Indian citizens to get a visa to the UK. An Indian friend here in the US applied for a UK visa and they rejected her application because the UK Consulate was shifting offices! She lost ~$4500 towards an exchange program. Every time I’ve applied for a US or Schengen visa, the process has taken several months to sort out. Interestingly, the same has never held true when I’ve travelled to SE Asian countries.
    Not trying to play a blame game, but the sad fact is that red tape and delays aren’t just an Indian visa characteristic.

    1. I think their software works better and the call centres do not hang up on callers but apart from that I am sure you are right.

      1. Joe, I think India is far ahead in terms of IT than your country…After all Tata communications runs Formula one which is lot dependent on data transferring ….lol ..India is far better than what you guys think..get your facts right. I’m an India but stay in Germany and I don’t have any issues with their website..don’t exaggerate things, please.

        1. Tata Communications runs F1? I think you need to learn a bit more about the sport before commenting on these things. Secondly, India is not better than we think. If it was F1 would be staying there. It is not.

    2. Not to mention, there is greater demand for tourism into the US, UK and the Schengen countries. None the less, onerous visa processes are still a nightmare. Very few are happy about it in the US too.

    3. Speedback its normal practice for all immigrants to have the some form of cash in the bank when applying for a UK Visa. I’d think showing that you can stand on your own two feet is a good per-requisite for entering a country, regardless of where you come from.

      I am from New Zealand. For every one of us there 310 of you. The average annual Indian wage is $1100NZD while the average New Zealander wage is $44,000. I still needed to prove I had money in the bank. So being Indian, you’re treated like the rest of us.

      I have just applied for one for the very reason that a job came up in a Formula 1 team, and I simply was not ready to move at such short notice and did not have my visa ready. Two things resulted from this – I think about it most days, I got a UK Visa so it doesn’t happen again.

      1. f1 yarn, all the countries look into your financials bank statement etc, but unlike uk they dont charge 3000 pounds as a security deposit. American’s or any one else dont even need a single penny to take with them to go to any of these countries, so yes in a way its an unfair system. and what these visa people dont get, not everyone is interested in staying in your country and feel that this is a goldmine or something, most of the people who go abroad from india have a real and settled life. European countries make it just as hard for indians to travel, so I am not surprised by the Indian visa issue.

    1. Easy, WhatThe! I’ve worked in calls centres “In the North of Britain” as you refer to it and it’s a two way thing about unpleasantness. The amount of stick I’ve had to take from customers would make your eyes water. Including if I was of a geographic region in Asia known by a very racist term. “No, I’m from Derby” soon was soon followed by silence from the other end. Don’t always believe what you see on TV…although EJ’s shirts are a different matter…

  3. Joe, I have to agree with you on the India issue. I am Indian, stay in Bahrain and bleed for my country. It’s a shame this is happening. The complicated bureaucracy, shameless politicians and a system that needs serious reform, all combine tomake a visit home frustrating even for me, let along non-Indians.
    India is a great nation, Indians are a great people but it’s about time the entire system underwent a “correction.”
    Hopw that happens soon.
    Meanwhile, all good wishes for the remaining races on the calender.

    1. Not a snowball’s proverbial that things in India will change. That would involve, potentially, the loss of employment, or changes in employment practices, or a shift in the emplo… you get the idea. Somebody would lose, and that can be a tragedy in India for those for whom what’s lost is income for a family.

    2. Bureaucracy = Jobs for the boys.

      Do you think there is sufficient interest and a fan base with disposable income in India to support this race beyond the novelty of the first year?

  4. India the Jewel in the Crown no longer.

    Joe the parent thing every time we come to UK or EU the ask my wife the same question maybe they worry you will stay their and bring your parents with you.

    On another note, everybody keeps going on about McLaren needing to keep Perez as they need a new Sponsor, I thought they had a new sponsor already but aren’t saying till end of season.

  5. Joe,

    I read earlier in the year that Force India pay their drivers a lot less than the other middle-rank teams. This was in an article on on 2013 dirver pay – how true it was, I don’t know.

    It was my assumption that a prime reason for Hulkenberg moving from Force India to Sauber was double the pay and the promise of a same-or-better car. If I was DiResta, that would also be motivation for me to move on, too.

    I know it’s not all about the money, but we all have to pay the mortgage on our Monaco apartments; could this be the reason Sutil also wants to ‘do a Hulkenberg’?

    1. I don’t think Hulkenberg appreciated the decision he made very much later on. Turned out to be a poor car and the team are struggling to make ends meet. As much as I like Sauber as a team, the move from SFI to Sauber was a fail for Hulkenberg.

    2. “Force India pay their drivers a lot less than the other middle-rank teams”
      That they pay them at all is the surprising thing, given VJ’s other financial woes.

  6. Joe,

    Google Chrome worked for my Indian Visa application today on a Mac but only after I installed the security certificate.


  7. Hi Joe.
    Have you scheduled An Aside With Joe anytime soon?
    Regarding this blog entry, Whitmarsh and Button seem like they could almost be a longtime happily married couple, I can’t imagine the latter leaving the team (unless he retires) while the former is there.
    But you don’t mention Perez, and I’m reminded of a couple of your former comments, firstly when talking about Button and Hamilton, you said something to the effect that Button may appear to be going slowly on track, and Hamilton quickly, but Button often seems to be up there at the end of the race. Currently it seems that Perez is always rushing around quickly, yet finishing behind Button.
    Secondly you were confirming another poster’s comment, which was something like Whitmarsh and Dennis would almost always be unable to agree on anything. So is Alonso to McLaren in 2015 or 2016 more likely than it would first appear? Or is this is irrelevant as teams do not look that far back in time when making decisions?

  8. My dad travels to India many times per year from Hong Kong, for work. He says exactly the same thing about it, bureaucracy everywhere and almost as corrupt as China. Great food though, apparently.

  9. Not a big fan of cricket so does anyone know if the touring teams from England or Australia have faced the same inefficient bureaucracy? If so how do they cope?

    1. Cricket teams are much better off as they’re provided with all sorts of hep and support from the government. The BCCI is the richest cricket board in the world and that results in a pretty significant pull on the system. They rarely have any problems. Its a pretty well-oiled machine, as hard as that is to believe for a country like India.

      1. I thought India had a specific organization to ensure visiting sporting teams were easily able to visit their country? One suspect it may lack the authority to over rule petty local bureaucrats.

        India’s bureaucracy is renowned the world over for its intransigence. It’s doubtful that losing a single race will cause an immediate change.

  10. Interesting stuff. If Sutil went to Force India (and assumeing Di Resta stays there another year), who could end up in the second Force India? It might be a decent option for Massa if he brings some cash.

    I also wonder about Perez at McLaren – if they did get rid of him who would they bring in as a replacement?

  11. All will change in 2014 Joe. I mean the red tape in India. We shall have a new Prime Minister, who would be forward looking. He has already shown what he can do in one of the states in India. Hope to see you here in 2015.

    1. Surely it is a very deep rooted basic character change, that is needed to bring India into the 21st century, when parts of it are still stuck in the Raj.
      I reckon 20 years will be needed, but only if they all want to change. Some religions seem to prefer the early centuries before the west corrupted everything, with trains and paperwork.

      1. Nope, Nepotism and corruption all gone by 2014, Guaranteed. Come on over to the promised land. Pull all your investments and get in on the ground floor!

    2. Hopefully not.

      The red tape is one issue, but you have to understand no one really wants to go there. I know India is a country that is growing into a superpower but in that respect it is still in its infant stages – being a third world nation.

      Look it from someone who travels there perspective. Once you finally get approval to enter the country it is absolute chaos. I can understand the respect for ones culture but people defecating in the street and what occurs on the motorways over there are just poverty and absolute stupidity respectively. Monaco, Melbourne, Budapest, Montreal, Mumbai – catch my drift?

      That, and theres one point I think a lot of people have missed. The devaluation of the rupee – somewhere in the vicinity of 25% over the last 3 years. What does Bernie like?

      1. Bernie likes the fact they want to tax F1’s world wide earnings for a cut being the Humanitarian and philanthropist he is, anything he can do to help and he’s there.

        1. Bernie is the CEO and like most CEOs gets paid in the form of a wage, and a bonus.

          If you took all the transactions that occur in a year for the Formula 1 circus I think you’d struggle to find a cheque made out to Bernard Ecclestone.

    3. LOL. Pigs will fly before anything like that happens. Coming from a fellow Indian. Don’t believe the hype. They’re all the same behind the curtain.

    4. That was the most innocent thing I’ve heard all day. Either that, or you’ve totally bought into the smokescreen campaign. All will change in 2014? It’ll take another few decades before you could quantify the scenario as “change”.

  12. We don’t seem to get the same problems with people getting into this country!! We welcome them and all their families, however tenuous the link!

  13. Interesting that you mentioned that Sutil may end up at Sauber, Who would fill his seat at Force India? Do you reckon Paul Di Resta will stay?

    Im surprised you have issues gaining the visa for India? I go on the yearly basis and its very quick and simple… must be France embassy…

      1. Yup, holiday visa and working visa are two different entities all together. That goes for most countries, but India seems to be extreme in this.

  14. I totally understand the feeling Joe. I’ve seen enough of it and faced even more to know exactly how messed up and painful Indian systems are. Its a catastrophic mix of new and (really) old and many parts of the system contradict each other and end result, more often than not, is a pile of frustration & failure. I feel terribly sorry for all Indian fans and the Jaypee group. That venue deserves all the support and appreciation it could have, I think you’d agree.
    The governments are too busy bankrolling voters in with last minute perks, knee-jerk reforms etc for the 2014 elections. One slice of hope, somewhere in the corner of my mind, is that one of the parties would take this up and offer support in order to garner some brownie points from the people (although the number of people who would seemingly care about F1 in India is rather small).

    This country just keeps hacking at its own two feet!

  15. Try getting a Shengen visa as an Indian, and you probably won’t crib so much. When was the last time you had to submit 6 months bank statements to an embassy? India’s visa philosophy is very simple – it’s reciprocal. If you make it difficult for us to visit your country, you can bet your ass that we aren’t going to be rolling out the red carpet for you.

    1. If you read it properly I was complaining about the systems that did not work and the call centre that behaved badly. The questions are intrusive.

      1. Joe, try and fill out visa forms any country italian,american, canadian, or swedish, there’s always a lot of paper work and they ask a lot of stupid questions we wish they didn’t. I understand what you feel, getting a visa always feel like a pain, but I would say judging by my own experience that this is basically true for every country. There’s always a lot of senseless paper work to be done, and there’s no way getting around it. one just has to go through it, I get that you would be annoyed for the technical difficulties you have to face. as an indian it is really painful to get a schengen visa, and I guess menon is right in the reciprocal behavior of the government.

    2. And that progressive business attitude should serve the country well by retarding it’s growth. Makes sense to someone. Who we’re not quite sure?

  16. I can’t see why Sutil would give up a pretty competitive FI seat for a team who can barely make ends meet? Unless FI have no interest in keeping him. Colado an outside shot for the vacant seat?

  17. Massa to Force India would be a great move for the team.

    A known quality with real depth of experience could move the car development along very well whilst bring in money : it’s a win win.

    Massa might have concerns about the facility at Silverstone but that could change soon if money becomes available apparently.

  18. Joe, I attended the Indian Grand Prix last year (as I was travelling through the area) and with the exception of buying and picking up your ticket in Delhi, it’s utter chaos from start to finish. The coach drivers don’t know where the circuit is, you can’t move around the circuit and have to stay in your allocated section, when you leave the circuit each day, you have to queue and swipe yourself out, no real choice of what to eat or drink and worse of all, if you want a cup of tea, it comes in a premix and contains sugar….I thought I was going to have an enjoyable and relaxing weekend but turned out to be stressful!! I was then forced to spend a week in Goa just to calm down!! 🙂

  19. “bushed”, not “bushwacked.” Bushwacked means to be ambushed; the term comes from guerilla fighting in Missouri during the Civil War.

    An excellent movie about bushwackers is director Ang Lee’s 1999 “Ride with the Devil” starring Toby Maguire and Skeet Ulrich.

    A nit pick to be sure on my part, but…

    1. … but a failed nit pick.

      The Oxford English Dictionary reports that both “bushed” and “bushwacked” are used to denote the state of being exhausted. For example, in my 1999 copy of the Concise OED, “exhausted” is the _only_ definition given for “bushwacked”.

      (Only bothered to check as I’ve used it that way for decades, too.)

  20. Hi Joe… speaking of Adrian Sutil’s possible move to Sauber..Is it wise for any experienced driver to move to a team that is going through major financial problem… and..whats the current situation of Sauber’s deal with Russian companies… Is it still on….

  21. Any news what is happening with the Williams seat as maldonado brings the cash but it looks (To me at least) that Bottas is not bringing the needed talent – Almost a shame as Senna was let go although (again in my opinion) he did a more solid job then Maldonado.

  22. The Sutil – Sauber rumour is a bit leftfield. Is this alongside Sirotkin?

    I would have thought that seat was nailed on for Bianchi

  23. Button and Perez staying for 2014 makes sense. Additional Telmex sponsorship will help pay for the Mercedes engine. But with Honda who knows, either if the engines are free and/or how much input they will have with drivers. Maybe keeping Button until retirement would be enough for them.

    Sutil to Sauber is interesting. Having always been at Force India, it’s hard to see him driving at another team, or why wouldn’t he have earlier? But Force India have always been on the up until now. The tyre change has really hampered those who designed their car around the 2013 tyre. But Sauber and Sutil are both German speaking, and he brings some backing.

    I assumed taking Bianchi nulled the outstanding £9m owed to Ferrari for engines, but maybe Sirotkin’s backing does that instead. So, I can see Gutierrez there instead, unless his money runs out, and he’ll be stronger in year two (as in Singapore) and more consistent. If neither Bianchi or Gutierrez, why not Massa or Sutil. I thought it would be the same at Force India, but they do pay the least allegedly (maybe the difference goes onto the car development costs to McLaren instead).

    The other option is the increased role of FP1s for next year (30 mins and a set of tyres exclusively) for youngsters such as Magnussen, Valsecchi, Bird, Calado, Juncadella, Sirotkin, Kovalainen/Rossi, Gonzalez, Razia (if money can be found, applies to others such as Petrov), Kobayashi perhaps, de la Rosa at Ferrari otherwise? I wonder if Red Bull will do this, all their drivers are occupied unless Felix da Costa doesn’t get the Toro Rosso ride. Even Buemi does many sim laps back at the factory each weekend. It would be nice to see someone like Coletti (ex Red Bull junior) get a chance at Toro Rosso but I can’t see it happening. I can’t help but think that if F1 were totally financially healthy then Leimer would get another chance at Sauber.

        1. Pardon me if there is some kind of language misunderstanding, but I just find funny to call “youngster” a guy who drove fifty or hundred GPs (not mentioning age).
          It’s even more amazing than 30-years-old Young Guns like Paffett or Nicolas Prost.

    1. At the time it was announced, I recall that Honda were to provide powertrain to mclaren for no cost. I would think that they would expect any savings to be invested in a top line driver, or have some input into selection (ie Japanese driver).

  24. ‘I rang the helpline about 10 times and was hung up on in three of the calls. What a brilliant advertisement for India…’ Bet it was Joe. Was it an Indian call centre in Mumbai? Hardly surprising in my experience. They seem to be more adept at making ‘cold calls’ that nobody really wants to receive! If you’re making the call, the service is usually abysmal.

    1. There are some problems. China is always a problem because there are complicated systems that do communicate well with one another. But they generally try to help as much as they can. Several are very efficient and done online, notably Bahrain and Singapore. They want F1 so they make it easy. The US is a pain given what you have to come up with, but it is very efficient and is only once every five years.

  25. I just got home from the Americas Cup race held across the bay from my house. Quite a comeback considering we all thought Oracle was toast last week. It was an epic beautiful day on the bay.

  26. Joe – there has been an awful lot lot of muscial chairs over the past few years, yet Di Resta’s name is rarely in the mix. Can you give some insight as to why? Thank you.

    1. Good question. The kind of question that this blog is supposed to generate, rather than some of the drivel that appears.

      Formula 1 is about communication and sport. I think that the problem lies in the perception that exists because of Paul’s character. He is not really a people person and sometimes comes across as dour. It is not in his nature to be chatty. The rival teams know he is quick, but worry that his presence will not inspire, so they chose someone else with a sunnier more communicative personality. That may not be right nor fair but it shows that F1 drivers need more than speed.

      1. Hi Joe
        Surely if a dour personality and boring to listen to is a criteria, Kimi should not be anywhere? I would love to see Paul in a really good car, the same as i would love to see Seb in something other than a Red Bull just to see if he really is as quick?

          1. Joe what do you think about Mclarens current line up?
            Many fans seem to think and even some journalists that Button and Perez are not getting the best out of the car, that Hamilton would have scored a podium by now. Do you think this is the case or is it impossible to say unless you are in the team. Could this maybe be why Perez has not been extended yet?
            I feel Button is doing well from the car but its clear over one lap Hamilton would add something and Perez isn’t a one lap specialist but neither is Alonso who people are still talking about. Who would you like to see in the Mclaren cars next season?

              1. I thought that myself Joe but was starting to wonder with all the criticism around what the actually view from someone in the paddock was. I think its a little harsh on Perez in his first season with a dog of a car to throw him to the wolves and it makes me think Mclaren really must have someone else in mind or why would they not just announce Perez and save him from criticism.
                Button has drove well i think this season and from the first half of 2008 I get no indication Hamilton would score better in a bad car. It is clear though Hamilton would probably get better qualifying results on occasion.

                Do you think there is a significant change taken place in F1 in terms of the driver market and how much PR and spin is used to make one driver look like everything he does is down to him and another down to the machinery. I see certain drivers comments and always think that they are sticking to a script to give an impression repeatedly until it sticks in the mind of the fans. The reason i mention this is because I think that its so cut throat in terms of drivers these days, the fans are fickle and the young drivers seem to be cast aside unless they are performing from the start like say Lewis Hamilton did in 2007 (which was probably a one of and as exceptional as he is he also was in the best car that season).
                I hope I am wrong and this has always been the way of the F1 driver market but the constant change and reluctance to invest time in drivers (Jamie Alguersuari for example) makes it difficult for me to invest my time as a fan in new drivers if they are not going to be given a fair shake of the dice. I hope Perez gets that fair shake I am talking about.

          2. Yes Joe, and it’s also worth noting that Mika H was not the most talkative guy outside the car but of course, we all know what he was like behind the wheel. Mika definitely let his racing do the talking. That’s why these guys are (or should be hired). Let’s be brutally honest here, if PR & presentation is your ‘bag’ then, by all means, hire someone like Dan Ricciardo; you’ll get the affability & easy-going nature; the huge smile, the lucidity, the positive vibe (his glass is always half full; never empty oh no!), never one to be in the slightest bit controversial. You’d certainly never hear Dan saying to his mechanics during a race; ‘leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’. I was brought up on a diet of Senna, Prost, Mansel, Hakkinen etc and now, Kimi. It’s ‘racers’ I want; not PR boys.

  27. Hey Joe, do you know if you’re application is also different because you not only are going to work there (so that will probably add extra stuff over just holiday Visa) but are also a journalist? Do they treat the media even differently?

    Plus you said something about Singapore, I’ve been there many times and always Visa on arrival, or is that also because you work during your visit? I am from the Netherlands so I think I’ve got it pretty easy Visa wise….

  28. Would Sutil really ‘gamble’ away his Force India seat (provided they would like him to stay)? See what happened to Hülkenberg this year, only the last couple of races he was able to show his talent. Nico, I think, might have doubted his move early in the season, when the Force India cars were regular Q3 runners.

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