There is a fair bit happening today in the F1 and automobile world and so I am going to do a quick round-up rather than blow-by-blow stories.
There is action aplenty with the newly-established Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV company, which was established in January and will IPO in the autumn. The Italian led firm has ambitious plans for its brands as it tries to take the fight to the industry leaders. FCA says that it now intends to increase its global sales from the current 4.4 million per year to 7 million by 2018. This compares to Toyota (9.98 million), GM (9.71 million), Volkswagen (9.7 million), Renault-Nissan (8.26 million), Hyundai (7.5 million) and the Ford Motor Company (6.3 million). In order to achieve this growth FCA is going to have to work hard. The plans include more than doubling Jeep sales to 1.9 million, plus pushing Alfa Romeo from 74,000 sales to more than 400,000. Maserati will go from 15,400 to 75,000. The biggest investment will go to Alfa Romeo with $7 billion being poured into the firm which will produce eight new models. This is likely to have effects on the FCA’s sporting activities which may be used to help drive sales.
Ferrari sales will not be increased, however, with the production capped at 7,000 a year, despite booming demand. FCA boss Sergio Marchionne said that Ferrari will stick with its V8 and V12 engines and will not downsize to V6s, but there will be more turbocharged models and additional hybrids. Marchionne added that the company will not be floated to raise money to pay for other developments. There were a flurry of rumours about Ross Brawn visiting Ferrari this week, but he says that the trip was just a holiday with some friends, providing the chance for them to drive some fancy cars at Fiorano. Ferrari also rubbished rumours suggesting that Ross is about to return to Maranello.
It is worth noting that while Ferrari is still baulking at too much sustainability, the Mercedes GP Petronas team has found that the new regulations are attracting new interest with a deal just announced with ebm-papst, which builds those funny fan units that are fitted into the sidepods of the F1 cars when they arrive in the pits. The company was named as Germany’s most sustainable company last year and will work with Mercedes GP Petronas to improve the energy efficiency of the team’s operational facilities.
Elsewhere, I hear that at last week’s Technical Working Group meeting Red Bull tried to pull a fast one and get a repeal of the regulations prohibiting the sale of car parts from one team to another, on the grounds that this might help to but costs. I believe that this was blocked because someone wisely pointed out that if Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso are allowed to sell parts to one another they would in effect be doubling the aerodynamic development possibilities for both teams, as one could concentrate on certain parts and the other on others…
My view is that no-one should be allowed to own more than one team, thus getting rid of the potential for such scams. having said that this would mean that Toto Wolff will need to finally get rid of his Williams stake and that car companies with more than one brand to promote might not be able to enter F1 in competition with one another. That would be a rare thing (although Volkswagen is doing it in sports car racing with Porsche and Audi at the moment).