F1 » 26 November 2013
Brazilian Grand Prix: Kate Walker: And that was that
In her latest exclusive column for Crash.net, Kate Walker reflects on the rumours in the paddock as the F1 season draws to a close in Brazil
Used to keeping her eye on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that makes F1 a political melodrama, here columnist Kate Walker reflects on the end of the 2013 season in Brazil...
After a soggy weekend in Brazil that saw rain fall only when it wasn't supposed to, the paddock bid farewell to the 2013 season with a flurry of rumour and speculation. Driver and team fortunes are said to be waxing and waning, with some of the stories obvious and others somewhat shocking.
Paul di Resta looks to be on his way to IndyCar next season, having given up on a seat in F1. During FP1 in Brazil, when James Calado was behind the wheel of the Scot's car, di Resta spent an hour and a half behind the screens in the Force India garage chatting to Julian Jakobi about the practicalities of an overseas move. According to some of those who overheard the conversation, the deal is already done.
Another hot topic in the paddock was the future of Lotus, with the pessimists asking whether the black and gold racers would make it to the grid at all next year. The odds of an off-season bow out by Enstone are incredibly slim, but given the persistent delays to the Quantum investment deal, questions must be asked about Lotus' long-term future in the sport.
Genii Capital is an investment firm, much like CVC Capital Partners, and since 2009 they have been losing money in Formula One, not making it. That's not the preferred modus operandi of an investment group, so unless secure funds are found Lotus are unlikely to stick around long term. That being said, when questioned about the Quantum deal in Interlagos, Eric Boullier said he had seen proof that Mansoor Ijaz' promised monies existed, and that due diligence had been done.
But Lotus aren't the only team rumoured to be facing the chop, with perennial backmarkers Marussia also said to be considering pulling out. One scribe was so sure of the Banbury racers' departure from the sport that he told all and sundry that a withdrawal announcement was due this week.
While it is true that owner Andrey Cheglakov wrote off millions of dollars of the team's debts earlier this season, that is no guarantee of a closure to come, although there are also separate stories doing the rounds that the team will merge with Williams, putting F1 one step closer to Bernie's dream of a ten team grid split between A and B teams selling and buying cars.
Formula One ends the 2013 season in much the same way it started, with four well-off teams free from any form of financial concerns while the other seven continue to fight for survival, relying on manna from heaven investment deals many of which may never bear fruit.
Ironically one of the few teams to end 2013 in a better financial position than it started the year is Williams, despite the Grove racers' terrible year on track. The departure of Pastor Maldonado has given the team the opportunity to sell the same space twice, with PDVSA paying not to have their logo on the rear wing in 2014 while a replacement sponsor is expected to be announced shortly in the form of Brazilian bank Banco do Bresil.
Kate Walker is the editor of GP Week magazine and a freelance contributor to Crash.net. A member of the F1 travelling circus since 2010, she keeps an eye on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that makes Formula One a political melodrama.
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