Bernie Ecclestone, Christian Horner, Singapore, 2014

F1’s Strategy Group is a cartel, smaller teams claim

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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Bernie Ecclestone, Christian Horner, Singapore, 2014In the round-up: F1’s smaller teams allege the arrangement between Bernie Ecclestone and the richest teams who receive the most money could be considered an unlawful cartel.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Small teams accuse Ecclestone of presiding over F1 ‘cartel’ damaging sport (FT, registration required)

“Three of Formula One’s smaller teams have accused Bernie Ecclestone of presiding over a ‘cartel’ that benefits their rivals, ‘massively undermining its reputation as a sport’.”

Small teams seek Abu Dhabi talks with Ecclestone (Reuters)

“It spoke of a ‘questionable cartel’ of the rights holder, Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Williams who controlled ‘both the governance of Formula One and, apparently, the distribution of…funds.'”

Will Stevens, Formula Renault 3.5, Jerez, 2014Stevens to race for Caterham (Crash)

“Will Stevens will make his race debut for Caterham when the team returns at next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”

Stevens joined Caterham’s Racing Academy in June last year. However after the team’s change of ownership 12 months later he subsequently appeared with their logos obscured on his overalls (see picture) and was announced as Marussia’s official reserve driver last month.

Tost confirms Lynn still in frame for Toro Rosso seat (Adam Cooper’s F1 Blog)

“GP3 champion-elect Alex Lynn remains in the frame for a Toro Rosso race seat in 2015, despite strong competition from Jean-Eric Vergne, Carlos Sainz Jnr and outside bet Pierre Gasly.”

Michelin et la F1 – “On a des idees pour faire un show super” (Toile F1, French)

Michelin say they would not return to F1 if they were required to make tyres which have to be changed ‘every seven laps’.

Gary Paffett and McLaren to part company (Gary Paffett)

“Gary began working with McLaren in 2006, and has spent the past eight years as a combination of test driver and reserve driver.”

Virtual safety car needs more work (Autosport)

“One of the biggest issues that emerged in the tests was drivers finding it hard to concentrate on keeping below a specific delta time.”

Lewis Hamilton set to agree new deal at Mercedes next week (The Independent)

Toto Wolff: “The duel was so intense so we thought it was a good idea to talk after Abu Dhabi. Now we have agreed that we get together on Monday in Abu Dhabi to talk.”

Former Caterham owner Tony Fernandes F1 team boss ‘walked away from staff’ (BBC)

“He said of Mr Fernandes, who founded Caterham and is chairman of Queens Park Rangers Football Club: ‘He’s simply walked away from the employees.'”

What is a cartel and why does it matter? (Joe Saward)

“The European Commission does not need a complaint to get involved. If the bureaucrats think that there might be a cartel in operation they can take action on the basis that Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union prohibits abusive conduct by companies that have a dominant position in a particular market.”

Formula One Grande Premio do Brasil 2014 (F1)

A few interesting new radio messages from the Brazilian Grand Prix including Massa being told to move forwards after incorrectly pulling into the McLaren pit, Raikkonen saying the McLarens were too quick for him in a straight line, and Vettel being advised that Alonso had caught Raikkonen behind him but that Raikkonen was unlikely to hold him up – which of course turned out not to be the case.


Comment of the day

A novel idea on how F1’s points system could be radically overhauled:

One thing I have thought of before is dividing the season into multiple ‘Cups’.

Five mini-championships divided along geographic or historic lines: Asia Cup (Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Singapore), American Cup (COTA, Canada, Brazil), Classic Cup (Silverstone, Monza, Spa, Monaco) and two others containing the rest. The drivers’ championship is decided by whoever wins the most cups in a season.

You’ll have the drivers fighting regularly, as they try and win each cup. You’ll have moments throughout the season where drivers have won something more than a race. Each little part of the season is compartmentalised and easier to remember.

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Matthew H and Ionut93!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is via the contact form or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

It’s unusual to see a driver who has just won his first world championship immediately switch teams but that’s exactly what happened five years ago today – Jenson Button left Brawn (who were turning into Mercedes) to join McLaren:

Images © Red Bull/Getty, Renault/DPPI

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  • 90 comments on “F1’s Strategy Group is a cartel, smaller teams claim”

    1. So Stevens will be driving in the GP, not the test… did I read that wrong, or miss something? The front page also says that Kobayashi and Merhi are supposed to race in Abu Dhabi. Someone is lying!

      1. @steevkay Race debut could also mean just appearing in an FP1.. but who knows!

      2. I believe Mehri “claimed” he had a contract. So he is saying he should be the one, not that he is the one to race.

        So either he was lying, or Caterham have ignored the contract.

        1. @mike or it might also mean that the contract isn’t valid anymore, as Caterham is in receivership and the contract was signed before that?

          1. @mattds Is that a thing? If that is how it works it would explain the tone of the Mehri article.

            1. @mike I’m not much of an expert on legal matters but I do know that a company in receivership works under altered legal rules, and it seems possible that contracts can cease to be valid. Not saying that’s how it is 100%, but I’ve seen it explained that way, at least.

      3. @steevkay I believe Caterham received money from Steven’s backers to make up their funding amount.

        Obviously, any contracts between the drivers are essentially null and void, hence Ericsson flying the coop.

      4. I believe caterham are running 3 cars. Or possible one of there cars is an old two seater Minardi.

    2. i don’t understand why the small teams complains about the new PU (ok i DO understand: they’re extremely expensive) but, why is that no team is complaining about the no sense of the aerodynamics? how much money’s spent in that? and for what gain? 2, 3 tenths of a second? and what’s the road relevance of that? NONE!

      1. The difference is that the smaller teams can cut back on their aerodynamics if the current level is not affordable. If multiple small teams are in the same situation, they can also make those cuts in the knowledge that at least some competitors will be acting similarly, so not all reductions in spending are necessarily competitively disastrous.

        By contrast, they haven’t got the option of stopping buying engines. From the manufacturers’ perspective, these engines have to be up to the task of winning Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull the championship, so of course they’re expensive.

        1. you can decide if you invest in aero or you don’t, but if you don’t, you can be sure that at the end of the year you’ll loose half a second (to say the least) with your next competitor (and much more than that if you messure yourself against Redbull or Mercedes). and by doing so, you’ll risk to loose valuable championship points, and a lot of money for next season, wich put you in a situation of downward spiral. So, how about limiting the aero upgrades, the wind tunnel and the CFD in a more strict way?
          The Mercedes -Mclaren – Williams is the best example, they have the same engine, but guess who’ve got the biggest pocket to pour money into their Aero? (ok, Williams maybe not, they at least have some clever people arount that, it seems)

      2. The road relevance of the turbo lawnmower engines is the same as F1 aero. F1 as cars are so “far out of reality” that any kind of claims of road relevance are imho a joke. On real technical level. Turbo engines that rev to 5 digits? The road relevance was about 7000rpm and 200kmh ago!

        I’ve have always held that opinion that road relevance is a term coined by mercedes executives who want to justify racing in f1 to their shareholders and use that vague term to make it look like f1 is more than publicity stunt. But it isn’t.

        So, when the new engines were decided everybody knew they were going to be too expensive. The people in f1, the shareholders of merc, ferrari, renault. The public, us. Everybody. And uninteresting, unexciting. F1 is supposed to be fast, technological and something totally different than normal cars. This stupid road relevance crap is imho destroying f1. Lawnmower engines sounding like lawnmower engines costing insane amounts of money all the while making the cars obese and slower doesn’t being any new fans in f1.

        In the end f1 would be f1 no matter what kind of engine they have. No with the huge cost increase we are looking at losing 1 or 2, maybe even 3 or 4 teams. Maybe it would have been better to tell merc and renault to sod off when they wanted to put those lawnmower engines into the cars? That way we would have lost just one team.

        1. Ah, yes, Formula Ferrari. Truly the crown of motor racing.

          1. From a neutral perspective yes that is loudest Formula and lap records stumble with fastest laps

        2. I will try and explain the car relevance to you. Please bear with my bad English in is not my first laughish. The relevance comes in the fact how the normal engine works with the electrical engine. True that not one of the two parts of the engine (petrol part or the electrical part) in it self will ever be use for a road car but the way they are working with each other that part you will see in road cars. Basically they way they get the car to save fuel that is road relevant and that is what they were after not the engine it self. The software that is road relevant.

          1. Well explained @koosoos, even in your 2nd. laughish (lol) but there is more than just the software, it is how efficiently the 1.6L turbo engine extracts power from the limited amount of fuel burned, apparently MB-AMG engines are around 15% more efficient than Renault and Ferrari and that is where the road relevance comes in.

        3. Wow, that’s some lawnmower you run, 650bhp + 2 electric motors…. F1 is becoming road relevant, the engines are a step that way V12’s and V10’s are a dead technology, Replaced by smaller V8’s with turbos, soon as the technology currently in F1 starts getting integrated into cars V8’s (apart from in America) will head into the obsolete box too. The future is a smaller Engine turbo’d and electrical assistance! As its fuel efficient and powerful

        4. Bear in mind Mercedes is german–here, road relevance does NOT end at 100 km/h ;-)

        5. F1 as cars are so “far out of reality” that any kind of claims of road relevance are imho a joke.

          Yes, you could say that. However, this has been the case for many, many years. Yet we have seen a lot of technology trickle down from F1 into modern road cars. That is where the road relevance comes in.

          Turbo engines that rev to 5 digits? The road relevance was about 7000rpm and 200kmh ago!

          If we are just talking about road, rather than road cars, most mid-level motorcycle engines rev to 5 digits. Even for cars, they are only doing about twice the revs as a car engine, and most aren’t revving to the max anyway: Peak power is comming in around the 10k mark (I believe, from reading between the lines on a few technical articles).

          F1 is supposed to be fast, technological and something totally different than normal cars.

          Do you not realise that it is! These cars are incredibly fast, use advanced technology, and are nothing like road cars. Road relevance is about the manufacturers being able to push the bounds of technology in a way which they can transfer some developments into road cars eventually.

          If you go back to the V8s, they were way behind the times, technologically speaking. Dead. Manufacturers did not want to develop big, thirsty V8s. What would be the point for them? Nothing in the engine could be transferred to road going vehicles, ever. To them, it would be no different from using a coal-fired steam engine. Both are dead technology with no future.

          lawnmower engines

          I would love to see what lawnmower you use! Most are pitiful, single cylinder afairs, using technology even more outdated than the old V8s. These engines are powerful, efficient, and technologically advanced. Pretty much what one should expect from F1. Admittedly, they are quiet compared to what we are used to, but I’d take that any day over F1 falling by the wayside, which would happen when all the existing engine manufacturers pulled out, refusing to develop last centuries technology, except for Ferrari.

        6. You forgot to mention in the end of your comment that Ferarri wanted 1.4 not 1.6, So when you say they should have told Merc & Renault to sod off you should have also included Ferrari in that statement.

          1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
            18th November 2014, 12:41

            @woodyd91 hahaha excellent point. So no mercedes, no renault, no ferrari… maybe this “lawnmower owner” wanted moped engines into F1 cars… that would definitely be road relevant!

        7. the road relevance is a fact, not some mercedes executives talk. Disk Brakes, Fuel Injection, rearview mirrors, radial tyres, turbo, onboard computing, safety belts, so yes, F1 is and should always be road relevant. Even more: i think that F1 took too much time to downsize their engines! when was the last time you see (except USA) a V8 car? a V10? it may be a wild guess, but in my view, more than 90% of the cars uses 1.6L OR LESS, so why is it a bad thing?

          1. @matiascasali Not exactly. I’ve seen a documentary about F1 cars and they said that while some F1 technologies are making their way to the road cars lots of these technologies have been developed for other industries, especially the aviation industry, and few are road car technologies that have been turned to the max for racing. After all we have a hybrid cars on the streets for a few years now. It was on these pages where I read that the Mercedes F1 engine team was supported by the know-how of the company’s road car development team. And after all, as @socksolid mentioned, the F1 car PU is very specialized to do one thing only – to get the maximum power from the available energy input and has to last for 1000Km. Road car, while it has to be efficient, it also has to be cost effective and last a lot more K’s. These are contradictory requirements and need a lot of different technologies.

            1. when you test something, you usually take it to his very limit. An engine, delivering more than 600bhp out of 1,6liter displacement, and doing so revving up to 10.500 rpm for 1000km is just amazing, and if you detune that engine to run at 4000 rpm, the durability will gro exponentially. So, even if F1 is a fountain of knowledge to aviation industry and some other industries, it’s still is the main place were new technologies are developed or old technology is improved to his very limit

      3. I’d like to see less aero-dependent F1 cars. The only way I can see it happening, though, would be to mandate spec wings and body shapes. Certainly a LOT of money would be saved (mostly due to lost jobs, unfortunately), and the racing itself might even be more entertaining. The issue for me is that such a rule would send F1 ever further down the slippery slope towards becoming (nearly) a spec series, ala Indycar.

        1. Exactly. a double edged sword, but surely money could be saved by limiting the number of updates that could be made to the wings or even the entire bodywork, make it like the engine, a few adjustable elements to suit the track but you race what you brung to the 1st. race.

          1. That’s my thoughts, too. (Wow, I think that’s twice I’ve agreed with you today, @hohum. We normally seem to end up on opposite sides of a debate! Lol)

            The best way to limit resources would be to homologate all the body work. Maybe allow 1-2 points in the season when you can bring updates, but only to certain parts.

            1. @drmouse, as true fans of the SPORT of F1 we are bound to be in agreement on many things, but also to have differences when it comes to a course of action.
              I agree entirely with your suggestion of a fixed number of updates, I love constant development but realise there must be some budgetary constraints.

    3. Ant making room for Magnussen perhaps? Hmmm…

      1. Obviously meant Garry—headed to bed

        1. Actually it seems that he had to go because he is a Mercedes DTM driver and couldn’t also be associated with Honda.

        2. @lexblair No, he’s making space for de la Rosa!

      2. Talking about making room, I somehow found myself nurturing the thought -up until this moment though – that Alonso’s next destination has not yet been officially confirmed because Lewis Hamilton is replaceable at MercedesAmgF1 (no matter how much he signed on as contract) dependung on how he handles the outcome of Abu double.

    4. This century it has been unusual (On this day) but in the era that Williams was winning championships it was pretty common.

      1. World champion Williams drivers, 1987-97: 5
        Drivers carrying number 1 on a Williams the next year: 1
        (Jacques Villeneuve in 1998, and you hardly knew he was there)
        Inflated salaries saved by Frank: £loads…

        1. Well he had to spend a lot of money on Newey.

    5. @DavidS I really like that idea, it would be like having five mini seasons within a season. Many series have tried things like it (ex. NASCAR’s Winston Million, Indycar’s Triple Crown of 500 mile ovals, Tudor Sports Car’s North American Endurance Cup), although none to the scale proposed in your comment. It would be cool to see your idea tried out.

    6. God, no, @DavidS

      We had that sort of thing here in one of the national series and it’s incredibly, INCREDIBLY, confusing and worst of all, sometimes even each cup can be decided before the last race of the cup, so you get more meaningless races per season.

      Seriously no.

    7. Good to read what the “small teams” are telling the world about this formula 1 pinnacle of motorsport. They are quiting the mask of this dirty bussines of “Godfather” Ecclestone and his partners. A jail is the place for Bernie & CVC, not formula 1 world.

    8. So Williams isn’t classified as a small team anymore? That really just leaves Sauber and Force India then as a ‘minnows’ of F1, though on second thought, Lotus can be argued as one, despite its prestigious name.

      1. A prestigious [i]adopted[/i] name. What was their original name again?

        1. A prestigious [i]adopted[/i] name. What was their original name again?

          Benetton & Toleman. Still pretty prestigious if you ask me. :)

    9. If we had the cup idea would all races be held together? I know that’s a big no no for Bernie. I would like this order though.

      Eastern Cup

      Western Cup

      Prime Cup
      Abu Dhabi

      Classic Cup

      1. Nice idea. If they weren’t grouped together like this then it would be confusing though.

      2. Nice, but you forgot the Nürburgring, and also I would put Hungary in the classics group (on the calendar every year since 86).

      3. A race at Spa-Francorchamps in November. I can see you don’t live in North-Western Europe.

        1. Is it really that bad?

      4. Instead of Prime Cup…may I suggest Bernie’s Cup which can include any other new races Bernie has dreamt of.
        Not sure any of the drivers would display the cup on their mantelpiece though.

        1. There’s an idea lol:
          Bernie’s Cup:
          Las Vegas
          Great Wall of China (Racing on the wall should be a good enough gimmick for Bernie)
          The Moon

          You get the idea

      5. P.S I called in Prime Cup because all the races were somewhat close to the Prime Meridian.

    10. I do hope Pirelli pull out and Michelin get what they want and become F1 tyre supplier again, or any other tyre maker with the same requirements for that matter.

      1. So instead we go from one set of tyre gimmicks to another (I take it you read Michelin’s suggestion of enforcing a requirement to reuse the same set of tyres you started the race to finish the race) in order to generate the publicity that Michelin is seeking? And it also seems odd that there are those that decry the idea of “road relevance” for the engines and yet then champion “road relevance” for the tyres…

        1. In other words, it’s Bridgestone all over again…

        2. “Michelin’s suggestion of enforcing a requirement to reuse the same set of tyres you started the race to finish the race”
          Actually, that’s not gimmicky at all. They just want to make tyres that “don’t have to be changed every 35 corners”. I think that what they would prefer is building tyres that have to last the entire race, but if we want to keep the old rule of having to switch tyres during a race, this makes sense. The reasoning isn’t that stupid: drivers will have to take care about their tyres but the tyres would also be made more resistent, thus giving us the best of bith world: drivers are allowed to puch early in the race but that could backfire at the end of the race. Now, everyone saves their tires at the some moment, that would be different if they have to re-use their old tires. After all, when you switch to winter tires for the winter, you take your old tires back when you switch back once the winter is over.

          1. I have to disagree and say that it is a gimmick, in the sense that it is a move purely designed to engineer the same scenario as we have now – where you are creating differences in tyre wear in order to create a substantial difference in performance between cars – but in a manner that separates them from the practises of the current tyre suppliers.
            Equally, if it is the case that the drivers are burning their tyres out in the first stint when pushing hard, it suggests that perhaps Michelin are not making the tyres that much more robust than now.

      2. @hohum Why? Pirelli make the tyres they were asked to make, and take a lot of flack for it from so-called “experts” who believe that therefore Pirelli can’t make tyres.

        Who’s to say Michelin or any other manufacturer would have brought anything different.

        The FIA and/or FOM set the specifications, so the manufacturer has to comply.

        F1 is turning into a spec. series, and still costs are rising, so something else must be wrong.

        It’s not the engines (sorry, hated the noise of the V8s) or the hybrid systems.
        It’s not the tyres (well, not specifically Pirelli)
        It’s not the drivers (the current crop are so much better than some of those racing in the 80s/90s, all of them, even Chilton/Gutierrez/Ericsson)
        If anything, it’s the obsession with fiddling with the aero regs constantly, so that even if you have the best engine, you might be off the pace.
        The lack of in-season testing means that real-world correlation of data can only occur at a race weekend, and all that means is that everyone is compromised.

        1. I’m sorry but I don’t think you’re right about the tyres at all. It is not the FIA or FOM who decide about tyre specifications. They don’t have the expertise to do that – at all.

          The FIA or FOM have given Pirelli requirements, not specifications. Broadly, they were asked to spice up the races by providing tyres that force the teams to pit multiple times (2-3 times to be specific). It is then up to Pirelli to create the tyres that will make it possible. There are a number of routes to take (as we’ve seen in the past years) to achieve the goal.

          There is a good share of responsibility on Pirelli’s side. I believe the criticism they received early 2013 was wholly deserved. 2012 was on the edge but 2013 was far beyond it.

          That being said, aside from a few exceptions, I think they’ve done a great job this year. They’ve struck a good balance. The tyres allow for good racing while still wearing out at a good rate to allow a few pit stops. Outside of the few races they went too hard in their tyre allocation choice, they’ve done really well.

        2. @nvherman, ” why ” you ask, and then answer your own question ” Pirelli make the tyres they were asked to make, and take a lot of flack for it ” thereby enableing another poorly thought out trick gimmick that does the opposite of what it is supposed to do. Michelin refuse to be party to that type of tyre tomfoolery, that’s why.

      3. Tyres that do not degrade lead to a simple procession. Michelin becomignt eh supplier would be a mega-bore fest as was the early 2000’s. Since Canada 2010 it has become much more exciting. F1 races should not be a series of sprints between refuelling stops – you have to manage things like brakes, tyres, fuel consumption, etc. Otherwise you can just play a videogame…

        1. “Tyres that do not degrade lead to a simple procession.”
          Do we know if we know this? There were so many changes done at the same time and they all seemed to contribute to increased passing and less procession. I would like to see how a race went down without DRS and just high degradation tires and no refueling. I would also just like to see a race with no DRS, long lasting tires without refueling.