28 July 2014
F1 Hungarian Grand Prix: What we learned
Crash.net's team in the paddock bring you some of the stories and rumours that have been bubbling behind the scenes during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend
Ferrari aren't the only team with veto power
You live, you learn. And in Formula One, you listen, you learn. And what we learned this week involved abandoning an old cliché and learning a little more about those mysterious Memoranda of Understanding signed between the teams and the commercial rights holder that replaced the Concorde Agreement.
Details of the Concorde and its replacements have long been shrouded in secrecy, but information leaks out drop by drop. This week's drops concerned the ever-expanding F1 calendar and the new ability that some of the teams have to stop it growing.
Under the old Concorde Agreement, the F1 calendar could not go above 20 races without agreement from the teams. And under the new MoUs, three teams – Ferrari, McLaren, and Red Bull – were canny enough to have it written into their deals that any expansion beyond 20 grands prix in a single season would require their prior approval.
It made Friday's press conference ranting somewhat ironic, as the team principals from those three teams were all very insistent that only Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA could determine just where F1 would turn up next, be it Pyongyang or Disney World…
Lewis wasn't on the Merc cycle disaster ride
In the run-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix much was made of the cycling accident involving much of the Mercedes team on their way from Hockenheim to Budapest.
Toto Wolff suffered a number of broken bones, Paddy Lowe was bruised, Jock Clear was reported to have cracked several ribs, and PR man Bradley Lord sported a cut above his eye. Despite the assortment of injuries, however, the majority of the team made it to the circuit on Thursday and were hard at work on Friday.
When the news broke, one of the photos doing the rounds showed Lewis Hamilton on his bike with the injured group. And when Crash.net congratulated the racer on escaping the shunt unscathed he told us that he hadn't been on the ride, and that the photo doing the rounds was around a year old…
Bernie is clutching at straws again
Guess who's back? Back again. Flav is back. Tell your friends. The real Stout Shady is on his way back into Formula One as a consultant tasked with improving the show and bringing back all of those viewers turned off by a combination of high ticket prices, high TV subscription costs, a lack of access and interaction, and the pesky new engine formula that is the only forward-looking aspect in modern Formula One.
Unfortunately for Flavio Briatore, his remit does not include increasing free-to-air television access with a view to recruiting new fans and bringing back old ones. Nor does it include reducing the race hosting fees so that circuits can charge ticket prices more in line with the man on the street's disposable income. And as for putting archive and highlight footage on the internet, taking advantage of FOM's deal with Tata Communications? He won't be allowed to do that either.
Instead, when Briatore met with team principals in the Hungaroring paddock the agenda focused on success ballast – an idea proposed not by DTM-experienced Toto Wolff as was widely assumed, but by buddy of Bernie Colin Kolles. Other ideas on the table included shorter races and a reduced emphasis on the technical aspects of the sport.
Concern for Caterham
A week ago in this feature we highlighted the potential for more job cuts at Caterham as the new team owners – and adviser Colin Kolles in particular – continue to attempt to streamline the operation.
With more than 50 employees already let go, more are expected before the end of the season in an attempt to greatly reduce the running costs.
In Hungary, Crash.net learned of the concern from another team as to the way Kolles is likely to proceed with Caterham beyond the end of the season. One senior team member revealed their dislike for Kolles' methods and even expressed some scepticism over the existence of the Swiss and Middle Eastern owners that Kolles represents.
One such suggestion as a result was that F1 should have a fit and proper persons test to analyse potential team owners and make sure teams are in safe hands.
F1 might be a battle between the teams, but with hundreds of hard-working members doing all kinds of hours to put two cars on the grid at each grand prix there is a genuine desire between the various outfits to see each and every one survive.
Tip of the cap to Mr Mattiacci
While Christian Horner's rant in the Friday press conference stole the headlines, Marco Mattiacci made a statement which was a breath of fresh air. With the team members – Mattiacci, Horner, Claire Williams, Vijay Mallya, Eric Boullier and Monisha Kaltenborn – asked for their reactions to the FIA's decision to allow Mercedes' to change Lewis Hamilton's brakes for ones by a different supplier in parc ferme at Hockenheim, the response was almost unanimous.
“Intruiging”, “a surprising decision” and “a serious precedent” were the range of responses from all but Mattiacci, who put the image of the sport and the excitement for the fans above anything else.
“From me it's a different perspective from my colleagues – even though I understand where they're coming from,” Mattiacci said. “I think in Formula One where everybody is debating about the show, to see a driver from the 20 spot arrive to the podium, for me is a great thing to sell to people and honestly, to pull the trigger, because changing the brakes that are the same spec, probably they don't have a great impact on the performance, honestly to go to ruin the day for Hamilton was not my principle about racing, so I don't see the need. It is clear we need consistency in the approach of the FIA but I think we have seen a great race from a guy and we didn't feel it was the case to ruin that show.”
Well said that man.
By Chris Medland and Kate Walker
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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