It is springtime in Paris and a delight to be home after five weeks spent yo-yoing between Europe and the orient. It’s great for the air miles (although I have used them all on upgrades) and I’ve seen so many movies that I won’t need to go to the cinema for a while. To put that into perspective I was watching Russian and French films on the way back from Bahrain because I’ve already seen all I want in English… Anyway, the F1 world is a little devoid of real news. The driver market is just getting to the bubble-forming stage (simmering will follow) with stories about the future of Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa and whether Red Bull is wise to state that it might quit F1, giving all its contracted drivers a decent element in any argument about their long-term contracts. Bernie Ecclestone did his usual trick of wandering into the media centre to drop the story he wants to be out there: 1,000 horsepower engines and blah blah blah. Given that the Mercs probably have peak power of around 910 hp these days, it is not a great leap forward and one would imagine that natural development could get us to 1,000 anyway by 2017. The teams are happy to agree to some aerodynamics cut backs and there is talk of a wind tunnel ban, which makes a lot of sense financially, even if the engineers don’t want to have their toys taken away from them and are wailing like terrible two year olds at the idea. There is some speculation too that the boardroom dust up at Volkswagen could lead to the company entering F1, but that won’t happen until at least 2018 or 2019 and Ferdinand Piech’s mandate as chairman goes until April 2017 and he’s still opposed to F1, even if he was outvoted on keeping Martin Winterkorn as the company’s day-to-day boss. If F1 wants more manufacturers it must either get regulations that will stay stable for 10 years, in order to give newcomers a chance, or it must have industry-relevant new regs three or four years into the future to allow proper planning. As the latter would cost more, the former is the logical way forward with tweaks to improve efficiency in stages. The teams are grumbling that Bernie Ecclestone seems to be talking only to Ferrari and Mercedes these days and occasionally to Red Bull. There is logic in this. He needs to stop the engine manufacturers getting together in alliance against him. If that happens, his grasp of power in F1 will weaken further. It is logical for them to get together because when it comes to doing new financial deals for 2020 and beyond, if they are divided politically they will get less. One other gripe at the back end of the grid is that the new Haas F1 Team is going to have big advantages because it is not bound by the rules in place until it enters the World Championship. This means that the US operation can have unlimited wind tunnel time and other assistance from Ferrari, in addition to the same internal combustion engine and other power units and transmission. This means that in principle the team could be as competitive as Ferrari when it arrives in March next year. The small teams believe this is unfair as they are limited in what they can do. One can see the argument, even if the sport needs the US market and the fastest way to make a bigger impact is to have a US team and a US driver. Fans relate to people and success so a competitive Alex Rossi in a Haas-Ferrari would be a good thing for the sport, although it is unlikely there could be more US races until the Formula One group moderates its financial demands on race promoters. The commercial rights holder remains fixated on short-term profit and under the current ownership and management that will not change. One area where the CRH is weak is that it needs half the races to be in Europe and, I believe, North America. Aside from Austria the only new European race on the horizon is Azerbaijan (it’s not Europe but one can make a dubious claim that it is). Thus if the CRH wants to axe some low-paying European events, the only choice is to find some government in Central America or the Caribbean that will foot the bill for a Grand Prix… Cuba would be a good choice if the country had any money. If the agreements say “the United States” rather than “North America” then the Formula One group will need to start looking at the wealthiest US states.