It has been a busy few days and not much has been going on in the F1 world, at least nothing worth getting excited about. The fact that there is a smoke haze over Singapore will not stop the Grand Prix taking place, unless the drivers cannot see their gloves in front of their faces, so that story is not worth boosting.
The driver market is quiet, the calendar for next year is still being negotiated and beyond that the rumours are pretty uninteresting. Melbourne has confirmed a new deal until 2023, which makes sense.
The Lotus situation is still not settled, despite a meeting on Monday between the owners of the team and representatives of Renault. Given that the team has an administration hearing on Friday in the High Court, one might suggest that things are pretty desperate. Renault has been playing hard ball for some time, trying to get the owners to sell up for very little and swallow their losses. There has, not surprisingly, been resistance to this, which is why nothing positive has thus far happened. Renault is obviously sensing that there is a chance to get the team for much less than it is worth and has been trying hard to squeeze money out of CVC Capital Partners to help pay for the plans. Renault is right to argue that it has as much right to demand historical money as does Mercedes. Renault has won three of the last four titles with its engines. CVC, the owners of the Formula One group, being financiers, are keen to hold on to their money and so things have been slow in that department as well.
The problem with all this is that if Renault’s deal is not reasonable enough, the owners may simply decide to let the team go into administration and as the biggest creditors are almost certainly the shareholders themselves, that would complicate matters for Renault. Renault continues to believe and to tell its media friends that the team has no choice but to accept whatever terms it is offering, but Andy Ruhan, the majority owner (by all accounts) is no shrinking violet when it comes to playing hard ball in business and has an impressive record of success behind him. It is always possible that he has options that we do not know about. If not, something would probably have happened by now…
In the meantime, I popped up to Dieppe yesterday to visit some friends. It is always a pleasure to drive around France, as there are so many old racing sights to see. Yesterday I set off down the autoroute on which the GP de l’Autoroute was held (in Saint-Cloud) after World War II. I went past the celebrated hillclimb venues of Vernon and Gaillon, which were important in the very early days of the sport and ended up doing a lap of what is left of Rouen Les Essarts, intermittent home of the French GP in the 1950s and 1960s. The track is little different in places to how it was back then and its plain frightening as you dive down the hill to the hairpin. It’s a fabulous place, with much history.
After that I went to up to Dieppe, which was home of the French GP in the early years of the sport in 1906, 1907 and 1912. That was all on public roads and most of it is still there, although these days there is tarmac!
A pleasant day out with a nice seafood lunch in Le Treport…