I am going to do a quick round-up of the recent news but I’m afraid regular service will not resume until mid next week, as there are still things to be done, in relation to my sister.
I would like to say thank you to the many hundreds of people who have taken the trouble to send their wishes to me and to my family, and to those who have been kind enough to donate (some very generously) to the Jill Saward Fund, which is being administered for the moment by the Rape & Sexual Abuse Centre. In the last few days this has raised nearly £7,000, which we hope will continue to grow so that there can be some kind of permanent trust in the future, as a memorial to Jill and her work. The more money arrives, the more we can do, so write off some tax and help an important cause.
I haven’t had much time for the racing world in recent days but I remain sure that Valtteri Bottas will join Mercedes, Felipe Massa will return to Williams and Pascal Wehrlein will join Marcus Ericsson at Sauber. Esteban Gutierrez has announced a limited Formula E programme, but I doubt his F1 career is over if the Manor team can be saved. It would be crime if it is not, as the team is still in a very decent position if somone has some investment to put in. As I understand it, there are two nearly completed 2017 monocoques and a well-developed plan to be on the grid in Melbourne, but if that is going to happen, an investor is needed now and the investment needs to be considerable. If it does not happen, the team will have to be closed and the assets sold, which will not help anyone. One can hope that the administrator can find some sort of a deal with one of a number of group that were interested in the team, but were driven away by financial demands of the previous owners, which do not seem to have much base in reality. The word is that Ron dennis may be backing one of the bids, which would be very good for the team.
Elsewhere, it is confirmed that Paddy Lowe is leaving Mercedes and we expect that at some point in the not-too-distant future, he will be named to an important role at Williams, the title of the job will be interesting.
The director of racing at Renault Sport F1 Fred Vasseur is leaving. This is a loss to F1 as Fred is a racer from top to toe, but it seems that he was stuck in a situation where he had the responsibility but not the power to change things. Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul is now in charge and the F1 world is hoping that he will do a better job than he did in a similar role at Caterham. He ought to be able to, because this time he has some money behind him.
It is interesting to note the news that Jonathan Palmer’s MSV has bought a lease to run Donington Park for the next 21 years. This is interesting because it means it is unlikely that MSV will pursue its bid for Silverstone. He may have the funding to do that, but running all of the circuits that MSV now have would likely create questions of over competition, as there is not much else left in the UK. Silverstone’s future remains rather uncertain (as always) but the circuit will be fine if it can convince the Formula One group to reduce its fees. That would be unlikely to happen with Bernie Ecclestone in charge, but when the Formula One group is taken over by Liberty Media, Ecclestone will have to answer to new bosses. That may not be a very comfortable situation…
The last clearances required are from Liberty’s shareholders, who meet in Colorado on January 17. No-one is expected to stand in the way of the deal. The FIA World Council will meet in an extraordinary session on January 18 and will presumably be asked to vote through whatever deal has been agreed by the FIA and the Formula One group. The FIA clubs are not expected to raise any objections to the deal, which will hopefully see the FIA take back some of its regulatory power. There are some last desperate attempts by interested parties to stir up troubel within the FIA clubs, but these will fail.
That’s about it for now.