My notebook at Spa

NotebookI have been having a look through my notebook from Spa and the following is a summary of the rumours and stories that were circulating over the weekend. Formula 1 reconvened after the summer break and discussions about the driver market were focussed on Williams and McLaren, as a result of the announcement that Kimi Raikkonen is staying at Ferrari. This flew in the face of earlier suggestions from Italy that Kimi would be replaced by Valtteri Bottas.

There is no question that Ferrari went to Williams and asked for Bottas, but it seems that the bill that would have gone with a transfer was too much even for the deep-pocketed folk in Maranello. The stories about the number involved vary, but it seems that Williams wanted 10 million in one currency or another, in order to release the Finn from the two years that are left on his contract. However, it might be that this was all only done in order to convince Raikkonen that a pay cut might be a good idea. Kimi has been earning rather well of late and it seems that some in Italy do not think his results match his pay-check. The word is that come January 2016, the numbers will be about 75 percent less than they have been, probably with a sensible bonus scheme to keep Kimi interested in success. With the Ferrari IPO coming up in a few weeks, the company wants to look lean and hungry and so some of the fat in F1 has been trimmed.

The word in Spa was that, in preparation for the IPO, the team has also extended its arrangements with James Allison, who joined the team in the autumn of 2013. The suggestion I have heard is that James has agreed to a further three years as the man in charge of all things technical at Gestione Sportiva. Allison spent five years at Maranello earlier in his career and is comfortable with the lifestyle in Italy. He has played a big role in getting the team up to speed and is still leading that charge. This made him a rather attractive proposition for some other teams, looking for new technical leadership, but it seems that Ferrari has recognised that danger and has now tied him in for the long term.

I heard at Spa that Williams is in the process of concluding an important alliance that will stabilise its financial situation for the long term. It seems to be rather more than a traditional sponsorship, but there is not much detail available. What is clear is that the team has been trying to squeeze more cash from its current supporters as some of them, notably Martini, got very good deals when they signed with the team. Now, with much better results, the space on the cars is worth a lot more so one can imagine that there will be changes when the deals come up for renewal. The team is not now expected to change its driver line-up in 2016, although I am led to believe that discussions with Jenson Button were quite advanced when it looked as though Bottas might be off to Italy.

From what I now hear, Jenson will be staying at McLaren in 2016 with Fernando Alonso and GP2 champion-to-be Stoffel Vandoorne. This means that Kevin Magnussen will probably be on the market. It seems that all of these factors convinced Nico Hulkenberg that it would be best to get himself sorted out with Force India and I heard a whisper at Spa that The Hulk has just agreed to a new two-year deal. I suspect that he will have included a clause that would allow him to escape if a big team comes calling.

One intriguing rumour I did hear was that Aston Martin is still out there looking to become a sponsor of a Mercedes-engined F1 team. This might explain the rumours about Williams having a mysterious deal as Aston Martin and Martini plus a bit of British bulldog would all be a lovely fit if stirred but not shaken. Aston is also looking for help designing new road cars – hence the rumours of an Adrian Newey supercar with Red Bull – but one can envisage a suitable product emerging from Grove, where there was a team of engineers at Williams Advanced Engineering designing the abortive Jaguar X75 hybrid supercar. Perhaps we might see a similar concept for Aston Martin.

Williams, incidentally, recently signed a £17 million contract to design and manufacture systems for General Dynamics UK’s new Scout armoured vehicle, which will be supplied to the British Army between 2017 and 2024.

I also heard the name Aston Martin associated with Force India, on the basis that the car company would get more space on the cars with the Silverstone team than it would for the same money with other teams. Vijay Mallya took the odd step of telling journalists that he is talking to Renault, which is not what F1 teams generally do when there are secret discussions going on, and so one must conclude that he let this slip in an effort to hurry up some other deal. The funding of Force India is going to be interesting because Mallya’s empire in India is contracting and he is in legal action with Diageo, which is an odd situation to be in when the drinks company is your primary sponsor in F1. Mallya’s business partner in Force India, Roy Subrata, remains in jail in India. The country has much potential for Aston Martin, which is in the process of trying to double its production by 2018. While a car company sponsoring an F1 team with another car company’s engine in the back may sound a bit odd, it should be remembered that Mercedes supplies road car engines to Aston Martin and owns five percent of the English (although Italian-owned) supercar company. It is not that different from having the bizarre concept of Lotus-Mercedes F1 cars…

This brings us to the big question at the moment in F1 – the future of the Lotus F1 Team. Things are not great, despite Romain Grosjean’s terrific performance in Spa. In the course of the weekend Charles Pic sent bailiffs into the paddock to try to secure settlement over a dispute he has been having with the team over his role as a test driver who did no testing.

This is a relatively insignificant problem as Lotus’s problems go, but it got plenty of coverage. The team is up to its neck in debt and the creditors are beginning to get worried. Renault has been looking to buy the team for months, but has been hesitating because, apparently, they are worried about what they might find if they buy the team in its current state. The option is to organise a pre-packaged administration agreement that would mean that the team would go into administration for a few days but with a rescue package already in place. That would need to be agreed by a majority of the creditors but if the buyer is likely to bring more business in the future, most creditors will accept a deal (as happened with Manor last winter). This would mean that the team could restart with a clean slate and, if Renault was to take over, the designers would immediately start work on a car with Renault engines for 2016. The team’s rights and benefits will remain in place as long as the company is not declared insolvent at any point. From what I hear, Renault has now agreed to put together a plan to go to the board and if that is accepted then it could all happen very quickly. This would be great news for Enstone. One would imagine that Renault would ship in Bob Bell to run things and put Alain Prost in a chairman role, similar to that Niki Lauda has with Mercedes. This would encourage engineers to go back to Enstone and would be good for F1 as it would cement the future of the once-great team, which won the World Championship as recently as 2006 (when it was previously under Renault ownership). Romain Grosjean would lead the team and there would be quite a competition for the second seat, although Renault would have the financial clout not to need to take money and so Pastor Maldonado’s future would likely to be limited. The financial meltdown going on in Venezuela will not help his cause.

There would likely be other knock-on effects of a Renault takeover of Lotus with Red Bull and Scuderia Toro Rosso being in the firing line. The Red Bull team has a deal with Renault until the end of 2016, but it is an unhappy relationship and if Renault comes back with a factory team, Red Bull will be unlikely to renew that relationship. The problem is that there is no obvious engine supplier to replace Renault. Red Bull’s options are fairly limited because it does not seem able to attract a new manufacturer and does not really want Ferrari or Honda customer engines. The best option is Mercedes, but while there are attractions of such an arrangement, it is tempting fate as Red Bull might easily beat the Mercedes factory team and, if not, would likely make a lot of negative noise about the engines. On the other hand, there is an argument that Mercedes might be able to benefit from Red Bull’s young customers. Mercedes would also be seen to be acting in the best interests of the sport, which is no bad thing for them, while also getting more political power, as it would gain influence in more teams. The other element that has not been much discussed is the fact that Mercedes and Renault are involved in an industrial alliance which is far bigger than F1 and so Mercedes is not going to do anything to jeopardise that. Poaching one of Renault’s teams in F1 and thus causing its partner some difficulties is not going to happen. However, if Renault does not care about losing Red Bull then this might happen. One sticking point might be a very specific gagging order on Red Bull personnel because the team has a record of trashing partners (Renault, Pirelli etc) when things do not go right. The other option for Red Bull is to shut up and rekindle the relationship with Renault for a few more years, while waiting for a new manufacturer to come along. The team says that Red Bull might get out of F1 if it does not have a factory engine deal, but there is not much sympathy for the company amongst the other teams. If Red Bull does walk its two teams would be sold and there would be new owners. Aabar is already a partner in Scuderia Toro Rosso and could take over that business, while a solution would, no doubt, be found for Red Bull Racing.

The other suggestion I have heard is that we could see Manor using Mercedes engines in 2016, rather than the old Ferrari engines that are currently being employed. The team is building up its numbers rapidly at the moment, is fitting out a new factory in Banbury, a building next to the new Prodrive factory. It seems that the factory actually belongs to Prodrive and will be leased by Manor, but the team should be in there by the end of September. If Lotus switches to Renault engines Manor could get Mercedes power units and from what I hear this would be entirely independent of any possible deals between Red Bull and Mercedes. Mercedes would need to ask permission from the FIA to supply engines to a fifth team, but the federation is unlikely to do anything to stop that happening, as it rarely says “Boo” to anyone in F1 outside Race Control and the Scrutineering Bay.

Every new customer represents more revenue for Mercedes while also meaning more data and the potential of additional cars between Mercedes and Ferrari… The Italians might not be happy about this, but if it offered customers a realistic chance of success using its engines, perhaps it would be able to attract more of them.

The last note in the Spa notebook is that Phil Kerr, one of the early members of the McLaren team has died in his native New Zealand at the age of 81. Kerr was hill-climbing with an Austin Seven when he first met Bruce McLaren in 1951. Kerr studied business management and was running an engineering company when McLaren suggested to Jack Brabham that he might be a useful recruit. Kerr helped Brabham set up his operations in Chessington and also took Denny Hulme there, as he was also acting as Denny’s manager. After Denny won the World Championship with Brabham in 1967, Kerr and Hulme moved to McLaren where he was joint Managing-Director with Bruce McLaren while Denny drove F1 and CanAm. The two men played an important role in keeping the team together after McLaren’s death, but as Teddy Mayer took over running the operation Kerr was moved across to run the semi-works Yardley McLaren team and then, when Hulme retired as a driver, Kerr decided to return home to New Zealand where he built up several successful businesses in the 1980s and 1990s.

108 thoughts on “My notebook at Spa

  1. So.. McLaren are running 3 cars for Button, Alonso and Vandoorne next season? Or do you mean Vandoorne will be placed in another team or as a (useless) 3rd/test driver?

    1. I would suggest that it is obvious that I meant that Alonso and Button would race and Vandoorne would be the reserve driver, learning the ropes in preparation for going racing in 2017.

      1. A little bit off topic: Can you explain why the likes of Massa, Button, Raikkonen etc. are allowed to stay that long on board (contract or no contract). I do not understand it. In other industries, sports, the replacement speed is much higher when the performance is not there. Being it right or wrong, I leave in the middle.

          1. But why are they willing to sign them as in particular with Kimi, the speed isn’t there, and that has got to be one of the main factors in choosing a driver.

            So what non performance factors are ensuring these people remain in a job. Does Kimi’s image and marketability outweigh his lack of performance, did he catch Arrivabene in a compromising situation or any other factor?

            1. Kimi is still quick, but he is not as consistent (nor as lucky) as Vettel. I cannot say I really understand why Ferrari have kept him but I suspect it is because they want stability at a time when the company is about to go to Wall Street. I doubt that the ultimate decision was taken by Arrivabene.

        1. I think you’ll find that Massa and Button’s performances justify their being there, Raikkonen is more of a mystery.

  2. Re: The Manor Mercedes rumour – is it also possible that if Ferrari would be unhappy with this arrangement, could it not be a ploy to get up to date engines from the Scuderia rather than old ones?

  3. Thanks Joe. Marvellous piece. So IF the Lotus F1 Team is bought by Renault what’s likely to happen with the “Lotus” brand?

      1. I was under the assumption that the Lotus name may stay like Marussia (or BMW Sauber a few years ago) has due the prize rules. I don’t understand these rules with naming cars!

        1. It will need to stay for a while unless all the teams agree to the change. Someone could be dim and block it but in this game what goes around comes around and so they would get payback eventually when they needed something and Renault would remember… In the best interests of the sport the team name should be changed to Renault as rapidly as possible.

  4. Are you able to offer any insight as to the mood within the McHonda camp?

    Both sides of the partnership keep going out of their ways to ramp-up expectations about improved performance, yet nothing measurable seems to be realised from the fan’s perspective.

    Based on Spa, Monza looks like another write-off, but perhaps Singapore can offer a glimmer of hope?

      1. The problem is, from the outside, it’s virtually impossible to tell how good the chassis is with the engine under performing like it is. I would like to know what Honda thinks in that respect as most of reported comments come from Eric Boullier or the drivers.

        1. Honda’s thoughts about F1 at the moment are probably best avoided, for their own good. Problems are not solved by being delusional, problems are solved by facing them.

          1. Remember this is the same guy that told the world, Mausoor Ijaz and his Quautum Fund and the $200M Bond that never was, and oh I forgot, that Kimi had been paid and wasn’t. How he is saying that Renault and a Chinese group are interested in Enstone.

            I am not sure what world Gerard Lopez lives in, but the Chinese Stock market has crashed and still is crashing, as even Joe has pointed this out before his holidays. So we can forget any Chinese players riding into town and acquiring the Enstone factory.

            Renault and a pre-pack sounds feasible, but Renault is partly state owned and any screwing of the little guy – small creditors, would not be acceptable to the Socialist Government, currently in power. The political fallout would be huge, unless Bernie can engineer a deal that is acceptable to all parties.

            1. To be fair, Quantum DID have the money but somehow it disappeared. This has been confirmed to me by a variety of people who all saw the money appear in a Genii bank account and it then disappeared again because of exchange controls or something and it was never possible to get it back. It is true that the deal never happened but the reason people believed it was because there really was some money there… I saw the bank statement myself!

          2. yes, its just as likely that they gave him a ring, or even an email question after they learned about the pic thing Bartosz Wroblewski.

            And off course Lopes is rather likely to say his team is doing nothing wrong in when it is in danger too.

    1. RIP, Phil. For those interested, Phil Kerr’s book is a great read and gives a lot of insight in professional racing in the 60’s and 70’s.

  5. Would you venture a guess on who might want to buy RBR (personally I don’t care for them either and I get that sentiment from a lot of fans) maybe some people in Wolfsburg might want to get in on it…?

  6. Brilliant Joe. Many Thanks

    Is there any chance that you could give us more information on the relationship between Mercedes and the teams to whom they supply engines in terms of operational procedures. Are the engines sold or leased to the teams? There seems operational protocols for the engine which sound as if they are strictly enforced which is understandable.

    Rob Smedley has stated several times, I think, that they are receiving the same engine as the factory team and therefore it is up to Williams to build and operate a better car to beat them. Is this your take on the situation?

    If you have covered this in Grand Prix+ and I have overlooked it please point me in the right direction to look in the archive.

    Thanks Siddle

  7. ….and so despite keeping F1 at arms length recently (Pay TV / uncompetitive racing, new baby etc.) I am now up to date with the stuff which is interesting in F1 – the behind the scenes stuff.

    Loved this post Joe – fascinating to see how the paddock changes in the near future

  8. Joe – I am reliably informed that Williams have bagged a large British telecommunications organisation as a new sponsor……..

  9. Thanks Joe. I love reading about all the behind the scenes machinations. I would miss not having the Lotus name in F1, but then again Enstone is not the “real” Team Lotus anyway. That team can never be replaced.

  10. Whether the 30million Venezuela pays for Maldonado’s seat is dollars or euros, that would buy a LOT of toilet paper, which I understand is in zero supply there.

  11. Joe–Please consider writing a book of short vignettes of F1 history…these pieces are among your most fascinating work. Expanded beyond the strictures of a blog, they could be both compelling to us gray-beards and useful perspective for the next gen.

  12. Joe, it is gems like this that mean I come back every day to read the latest news.

    That explains the factory by the M40 that I have seen going up over the last few months next to Prodrive then… I wonder whether there will be more of a technical linkup between the companies over time, Prodrive-Manor F1 in a few years perhaps.

    Hopefully the Lotus/Renault situation gets sorted too. The hard-working crew at Enstone deserve better than going through this uncertainty again.

    1. Weren’t Prodrive one of the possible teams that applied for an entry the same time as Manor, Caterham and HRT?

  13. Very interesting information. This is the kind of information that is hinted at in the Sky F1 broadcasts, so it’s great to get a bit more background on these topics.

    Thanks so much for providing rumors and rumblings. It’s very difficult to find truly interesting stories from the big news outlets.

    As you mentioned, if Renault buys Lotus, it seems likely that Maldonado will be out. Any sense of where he might end up? I assume he’d land at one of the teams with money problems (e.g. Sauber, Manor, etc.). It doesn’t seem like Williams or Force India would want him. I’m not sure how it would play back home if he ended up at Haas, given the state of US-Venezuelan relations.

  14. Quick question – given the amount of money Maldonado’s sponsor provides, would he be finished from F1 if Renault wanted him away from Enstone? One wonders if a team like Manor or Hass could use the money?

      1. I suspect there’d be enough Swiss-based F1 constructors willing to take on PDVSA as a sponsor in exchange for taking Maldonado on board.
        However any Swiss-based F1 team would also have to discount the sponsorship’s value by the forecast increase in destroyed components!

        Wonder if that net value would come to greater or lesser than Banco do Brasil’s sponsorship…

        1. The point Joe was making there with the state of the economy in Venezuela is that its pretty dire, and its not all that likely that anyone in the country is currently willing to sign that kind of money for having Pastor drive anymore

  15. Marvelous reading, serious analysis of the market. Could you say something about Kmag? Danish media BT says he is talking to Haas? Could he replace Pastor Maldonado? Will JB go to Top Gear as rumoured? Well, anyway very interesting

  16. Amazing article joe, after 3 weeks of f1 boredom a great race followed by a these stories I feel like A dieter who has just discovered low fat chocolate . Just one query you mentioned that a greater industry deal might stop merc from pinching Renault’s customer teams , why did this not stop the lotus switch last year?

      1. Next time you see Eddie Jordan maybe remind him Lotus are mercedes engined now. He made a right *** of himself in the post race coverage by banging on about how the Lotus podium was evidence of Renault raising their game. DC’s face was a picture!

  17. Regarding Lotus, there was an issue regarding Kimi’s last year with them and getting paid. Does anyone know if that was ever settled?

  18. Hello Joe, thanks for the insight in your notebook. Much appreciated. I wondered: the lack of sympathy among other teams towards RBR that you mention; is that mainly down to them being a bit of a noisy neighbor, the way they fired shots at partners and their loose anything goes attitude when success was theirs? Or are there other sentiments beneath the surface? Thanks.

  19. You after Mr Kravitz’s job perchance Joe? 😉

    I quite enjoy ‘Ted’s Notebook’ on Sky but I reckon ‘Joe’s Jotter’ could knock it out of the park!

  20. “This might explain the rumours about Williams having a deal as Aston Martin, James Bond and Martini would all be a lovely fit if stirred but not shaken.”

    **please be true, please be true, please be true**

  21. Joe, nice post!

    Didn’t Merc stopped supplying Mclaren because it didn’t wanted to be beaten by another team they are supplying? I think I goth this idea from your blog some time back. So what would have changed that they would supply red bull, who would be able to beat them?

    1. Well, Merc was supplying McLaren, which, even though it had good 2007 and 2008, didn’t get any WDCs. Honda pulled out leaving Ross Brawn without an engine, I think it was even Martin Whitmarsh who persuaded Mercedes to supply Brawn GP with engines. Then Brawn GP won the 2009 WDC, and Mercedes started wondering if they could just divorce McLaren (or make them just customers instead of partners) buy Brawn and control their own destiny. McLaren didn’t want to be just a customer team, so they looked elsewhere for their engines.

      Funny how Honda and Mercedes as engine suppliers basically swapped F1 teams between them…

      1. Did you miss the bit at the end of the 2008 Brazilian GP when Felipe was champion for about five seconds before being cruelly robbed by some bloke called “Hamilton” in a Merc-powered McLaren?

  22. Joe,

    Very interesting and I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. You most likely don’t have the pre-IPO pack that we get in the financial world about Ferrari’s IPO, but there are some very interesting figures in there regarding the Race team.
    It is now about 8 months since Ron Denis was to put up the funds to reduce his partners share – equity holdings in McLaren, yet so far nothing has happen. Based on what he was seeking in funds and the value he put on the company. He really is dreaming. So how much longer will his partners hold out? I am basing his valve on what we have seen regarding the IPO and Williams share price, as the yard stick to gauge things by.

    Also the chatter – rumour about Dieter putting together a war chest to take out CVC shares in FOM, has gone very quiet. Has he stopped thinking about, getting out of team ownership and actually owning F1? It would solve a lot of his current problems with engine suppliers?

    I am sure Renault would be interested, but would have to break the piggy bank to afford the place, owning Red Bull and it new Technology Centre and Adrian. It would solve Dieters problem and provide him with some funds at the same time.

    Does Mario Illen still work as a consultant to Red Bull Racing and the Technology Centre? I have a feeling that he had a good look at the Renault PU and said it would take too long to fix, hence the move to Mercedes.

    Any more news on Gerhard Berger and his couple of Billionaires he was showing around doing anything in F1 – with regards to team investment – ownership?

    I know your extremely busy making a living as a freelance journalist in F1, but any advancement on writing a book about your travels in F1. My much better half loves to read about your road trips and really enjoyed your trips to Korea.

  23. Great piece Joe, as usual.

    – Are there any news on McLaren´s financial situation? The lack of sponsorship isn´t very nice and the team´s current results do not help at all…

    – Could Honda supply Manor so they could have both Magnussen and Stoffel (doens´t Manor and McLaren have a development agreement?). Is this even reasonable?

    1. McLaren has a policy of not reducing its rate card and so the sponsorship you see on the car may be small, but this does not mean that the team has no money.

  24. Reading your Spa notebook summary and all of the possible engine team swap scenarios I recalled that earlier in the year there was some mention that Mario Illien had been paid by Red Bull to do some research on a better engine package (possibly still labelled Renault) but that wasn’t mentioned in any of the current wave of possible changes. Do you have any further intelligence about this possible engine solution for Red Bull?

    1. I believe that Red Bull paid for Mario Illien to do some development in parallel to Renault Sport F1. The fact that nothing more has been heard about this means that either the work he did has been integrated into the engines, or that it was no better than the factory. I don’t know the answer to this question. The question of who owns the IP to this work is interesting. I think that there is potential for Red Bull to do what Roger Penske did back in 1983 when he got together with Mario Illien and Paul Morgan (then of Cosworth) in order to create a new engine company. Penske paid for the development of a new Indycar engine and took half the equity in the business. He then sold half of his shares to General Motors and in consequence Chevrolet got a cheap route into Indycar and 86 race victories followed between 1987 and 1993, including six Indianapolis 500 victories and five CART titles. Ilmor was later commissioned by Mercedes-Benz to design an F1 engine. Initially this was called a Sauber V10, but it became a Mercedes when the German firm bought GM’s shares in Ilmor. This provided a double whammy because Mercedes was able to win races in F1 and Indycars. In the end Mercedes bought the entire company, which builds all of its F1 engines today, but Mario Illien started another business and so could do the same again if the right cheques arrived in the post. The new F1 engines require a certain amount of new equipment (testing rigs etc) but once the capital investment is done, this would be a cheap route into F1 for a manufacturer as much of the technology is already out there, and Illien must have access to some of it.

      1. It’s a probably years too late for Honda to be sending a few cheques to Illien. And, Honda seem stuck on their NIH syndrome and will have to play the painfully long game.

        I want to watch Monza, however, have used all my grimace tokens for the season. With their hefty pay cheques, assume Alonso and Button can afford winning therapists if nothing else.

        Joe, you’ve seen a few bad engines in F1, where does the Honda rate in the grand Pugeot scheme of under delivery?

      2. Hi Joe great read ,this article say Renault didn’t use Mario Illiens prototype
        [Link deleted – See blog rules]

    2. Hi Dean, i read an interview with Cyril Abiteboul a week or 2 back and there he mentioned that Illiens ideas (which has been tested on a 1-cylinder testbed) were presented to Renault, but that Renault did not incorporate any of it in their current development, at least for now, but mentioned it might be used in the future ideas.

  25. It would be a shame if Vandoorne had to do another year on the sidelines. Realistically on talent and maturity, he should be in F1 now, but at last not everything that should happen does.

      1. True to a degree, but realistically he was already ready to go by the end of last year.
        While thrashing the GP2 competition this year is nice, it is a bit of a holding station and if it leads to nothing (again) next year, then what is the point of him being on McLaren’s books?

        This is his third year at this level on the junior series ladder and despite his successes, McLaren are showing precious little drive to actually promote him.

        1. Can this not be said for a great many promising drivers stuck in the queue in F1? Discounting ‘pay’ drivers there aren’t many places left all the time experienced drivers earn their keep. You didn’t mention K Magnussen Leigh, or is he already yesterday’s man?

          1. Joe would know better, as I’m not that up to date with where Kevin is right now, but I gather he is looking at options beyond McLaren.

  26. Exemplary reporting.

    Allows for sense to be made of the present, and very educated (by your work) assumptions to be entertained about the future.

    Thank you!

      1. Hah, anyone could see that one coming from miles away. Still don’t get why the collective F1 press failed to do so.

            1. I have explained about 20 times why the deal did not happen. If you have not read these, I cannot be any more help. The reporting at the time was perfectly acceptable, but things change and while it allows people to criticise journalists, it does not mean that they are right. So, just accept that you may have ended up right, but you were wrong at the time and all will be well. I accept that I was right at the time and ended up wrong. Such is life. Try to get over it.

  27. Hello Joe,

    Speaking about Spa, I have always been surprised by sudden excellent results by some F1 teams in very bad situations.

    Examples :
    – Lotus has been nowhere since 18 months. R.Grosjean’s podium in Spa 2015 comes with a perfect timing to help the team with the talks with Renault (and Redbull Racing).
    – Williams was nowhere in 2012. Maldonado suddenly won in Barcelona at the right time for FW’s 70th birthday and when the team was in difficult sponsorhip situation. And they did nothing else that season after that particular racewin.

    There are other examples of timely surprise wins in F1 but I cannot remember them exactly now.

    Some people have told me that some engines were getting an extra boost in one of the F1 feeder series…

    How likely are there some manipulations of performance/result when F1 or a particular team needs them ?

    Loving F1 as a sport, I obviously do not want to feed any conspiration theory on F1, but I think the question is worth being asked.

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