Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham, Sepang International Circuit, 2014

Caterham lay-offs cast doubt on success of crowdfund

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham, Sepang International Circuit, 2014In the round-up: Caterham have laid off the bulk of their staff despite announcing their crowdfunding initiative had enabled them to participate in the last race of the season.


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

Caterham F1 team make all their backroom staff redundant (The Guardian)

“Caterham made their 230-strong race team redundant on the very day they announced they were going to go to Abu Dhabi for the last Formula One race of the season on Sunday.”

Lotterer offered Caterham seat again (Autosport)

“Caterham wants me to race in Abu Dhabi but I am not sure if I will take up the offer.”

Sebastian Vettel considered quitting Formula One after slamming grand prix racing’s V6 turbo cars (The Mirror)

“You ask yourself, ‘What has this to do with racing? But what is the alternative? Yes the cars have become slower, but they are still the fastest you can race.”

Daniil Kvyat Q&A Interview (Crash)

“Race pace for example wasn’t an easy [lesson to learn] one because it’s a lot longer race than it is in GP3 and takes some time to have full control of the race pace. These were things that came more together during the year. They had to come together, at the beginning it was a little bit harder but I managed better and better, so I would highlight this one.”

Battery powered Formula E faces acid test (The Independent)

Karun Chandhok: “Formula E is absolutely not intended to supplant F1. It doesn’t compare with F1, Indycars or Le Mans, and that’s far from its purpose. It’s totally different.”

What’s a hot lap with Kimi Raikkonen in a Ferrari F12 really like? (Auto Express via YouTube)

Thanks to @Jaanusl for the tip!


Comment of the day

Bernie Ecclestone has generated a storm of attention recently with his comments on the future of the sport, young fans, double points and more. But is there a method behind the apparent madness?

Although my personal opinion on Bernie has been wavering lately I have generally been a supporter of his. Sometimes you have to look at the wider implications and pressures on the decisions he makes, and what his public comments are (often two different things). His role is so diverse and encompassing that his main mission must often get lost in the storm of controversy that perpetually surrounds F1.

However with the exception of safety his overriding focus has to be on maintaining the global profile of F1. Many criticize his methods, his courting of the corporate machines, his sometimes zany ideas. But sometimes we have to remember that a calm, settled, and non-controversial F1 attracts fewer articles and less column inches.

I’m of the same belief as some others here, Bernie is up to something, I can’t believe the the ring master has suddenly lost all sense. If you take his public comments just on face value then surely CVC would have done something about this sooner. Bernie has a plan!

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On this day in F1

Five years ago today Mercedes confirmed their return to Formula One as a full constructor by taking over reigning champions Brawn GP:

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  • 66 comments on “Caterham lay-offs cast doubt on success of crowdfund”

    1. Cotd. Of course Bernie has a plan, I agree with that. I think Bernie deliberately forgot the other stream of revenues attached to F1, you can’t deny the presence of some household names in F1.

      Caterham offered Lotterer a drive again, because under the rules Caterham can’t race all the pay drivers they want, I believe the limit is 4. Caterham used their friend Lotterer as a way to showcase their availability to other pay drivers, hence his mysterious problem and current reluctance to race again. Racing Lotterer also elevated their count to 3 drivers that raced for Constructors. Now without Ericsson, Caterham will have to field at least either Kobayashi or Lotterer as the team can’t use 2 new drivers.

      1. I had this crazy thought that CVC is forcing Bernie out of F1 and he’s trying to somehow devalue the brand by creating this madness. Something like, “if it isn’t mine, it shan’t be anybody’s!”

        1. @carlitox – you don’t devalue the brand until your piece of it has been paid off. (I’m assuming he still owns some of it, which may be wrong.)

      2. F1 is in a poor state. I can only think these comments are to take the focus away from Marussia and Catherham winding up, Bianchi’s injury and probably the most anti-climatic WDC title fight I can remember, which is only interesting due to the farcical double points rule.

    2. ColdFly F1 (@)
      16th November 2014, 0:30

      We have 5 World Champions on the grid.
      We have the championship going to the wire.
      We had some great races this year.
      We have Mercedes and Williams messing with, and beating, the strong teams of the past years.
      The new PU might not sound great, but they are state-of-the-art and bring back some true driving skills.

      Why do I feel so down about F1?

      1. Williams isn’t a strong team in the past??!? They were dominant in the ’80 and ’90

        1. Read the comment again

        2. I think @coldfly is referring to teams that have been enjoying success more recently such as Ferrari and Red Bull.

          1. ColdFly F1 (@)
            16th November 2014, 2:34

            @beneboy, thanks.
            Exactly that; I thought ‘the past years’ was clear enough.

          2. Ferrari hasn’t enjoyed any success lately. Forget Alonsos 3 WDC attempts.

        3. @castwand2 Don’t forget that they were still pretty handy in the early years of the 21st Century! They officially became a midfield/backmarker team since 2005.

      2. @coldfly
        I feel exactly the same, and I think I know why. It’s just because people like Ecclestone and Horner have been trash-talking the sport, Horner because he’s forgotten what it’s like to lose, and Bernie because he’s Bernie.

      3. @coldfly my brother also watches F1 races but he’s not a die hard fan and he is really excited about this season and the final race in particular to see who will be champion, in Austin he didn’t even notice Marussia and Caterham were gone until I pointed it out to him at the end of the race and still he loved it.

        The point I’m trying to make is that reading F1 blogs and all these news about how bad the sport is, the risk of teams disappearing and basically all the politics behind the scenes, ruin the experience.
        Every time there’s negativity around F1 which is the only “sport” I like and have time to follow, I think of stop reading the news in between races in fact I did just that in the lead up to the 2012 Bahrain GP. I’m not saying everyone should do it but sometimes maybe it’s better to step back and look at things from a more simple perspective.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          16th November 2014, 2:41

          @mantresx, maybe that is what I should do.
          But I actually like all the additional news feeds, which made F1 from a fortnightly event to a continuous ‘sport’. And we always had the items we as fans could b*tch & moan about.
          However, now it seems to be more of the negatives and less of the exciting bits.

          Maybe I am getting too old – oops, gotta go! my Rolex tells me it is time to check my UBS investment account ;)

      4. @coldfly I feel that Williams won’t play a factor, which prompts me to say that is very rare to witness a title deciding race that is unsuspicious. I don’t want to start a discussion off topic. I think the races have been great, still don’t see why there’s DRS but the rest has been pretty common for F1 there’s always some suspicions.

    3. I think bernies plan is to devalue formula 1 so when it is sold on the open market he can buy up a majority share on the cheap and take total control of the sport again. whether thats in the short term to turn a profit or because he actually wants to own it again im not sure, but im almost certain that devaluing and buying cheap himself, or for one of his business friends at a fee is the aim. its not like he hasnt done something similar before……

    4. I recently read Bernie Ecclestone’s life story-No Angel, and I can assure all of you that this man doesn’t do anything just for the sheer hell of it, he has good sound thinking behind all his actions, no matter how odd or out of character they may seem. He is sharp as a razor, even at 84, his reasons may not be in the best interests of F1 but they will most definitely be in the interests of Bernie Ecclestone, have no doubt about it.

      1. Yes, that’s exactly what is so scary about him. I would prefer if he was just an old, out of touch fool. I fear this might be him trying to get as much as he can from F1 before he goes away for good. In that case he wouldn’t even need to keep F1 alive for long for his own sake since at 84 his time is limited any way you look at it. So if for whatever reason running F1 into the ground would suit his short term plans I’m sure he’d do that.

    5. How is it that Alonso can send strength to Jules? Seems very mystical too me. And here I was thinking that he was not religious.

      1. It’s one of those samurai things.

    6. Fantastic video of Kimi driving. He seemed to have spent as much time on opposite lock as he did steering normally. These guys have such incredible control and feel; he looked like he was barely trying.

      1. @lateralus Haha and one handed as well!
        By the way I don’t know why but I really like this sort of videos where is just one camera, no cuts, no editing, no face cam… just driving, brilliant.

      2. “he looked like he was barely trying”
        LOL, Very much like this whole f1 season.

      3. I wonder if F1 drivers use left leg to brake even when driving road cars?
        I can not do that, my brain learned to do with right foot. I feel if I try braking with left and accelerator with right, I’ll end up crashing even at slow speeds. I think it’ll take some practice in isolation to do that.

        1. If you´re used to it with a wheel for PC-racing-sims, it´s already rather easy in the rare occasion you get to drive a car with shift-paddles. However, as soon as there is a clutch-pedal, even if it´s currently not used (like in some Audi/Porsche-tiptronic-drives), it feels impossible. The same with “normal” automatic-drives, where both brake and acc are built on the right.

        2. So here’s one answer:


          a great demonstration of heel-and-toe downshifting and his very unusual method of pumping the gas pedal to maintain minimum speed and keep the car at the limit in the slowest part of the corner

        3. On cars where you need to use clutch pedal it is not practical at all to brake with left when driving in the traffic. On race track it is different but even then using your left foot to brake is something you can not use very often because you need the foot for the clutch.

          So the only place where you can use your left foot for braking is in corners where you need to brake but don’t need to downshift. Then there is the rally technique where in a fast bend you press both throttle and brake together (lots of throttle, little brake) to make the car understeer lightly. For example to straighten the car before small jumps. Pressing the brakes while keeping the throttle flat also helps to keep the turbo at peak. If you lift the throttle you may the turbo and it may take a while to come back up again.

          For cars without clutch it is different of course. I think it is just personal preference. Most people learn to drive with manual gearbox in europe so for them it is normal way to brake with right foot. If they later get to drive automatic or paddle shifter cars as daily drivers I doubt many of them will switch to left foot braking.

        4. I race karts most weekends and when I pack up an drive home braking with my right foot still feels natural after a whole day of left foot braking in the kart .

        5. @functor – I had an old car with a simple automatic gearbox for a long time and learned to brake left-footed, mainly out of boredom in traffic jams, then just as a normal way of driving.
          Unfortunately, I now drive a modern auto and two-footed driving sends the car into engine-shutdown-panic mode, it’s seen as an error. It’s a safety related thing due to a number of crashes where accelerate & brake simultaneously sent modern car electronics crazy. So be careful what you practice in!

    7. One of the top comments in the article featured in “On this Day” is Ned Flanders. What happened to the guy? where is he? he used to post quite frequently here !

      1. @fer-no65 I’ve been in touch with him, he’s teaching English in a foreign country at the moment!

        1. A whole generation will turn out like the Flanders kids! The mind boggles…

        2. That’s fantastic, I genuinely miss him here.

        3. @keithcollantine ah, very cool ! tell him we miss hmi ! he was very cool round here.

      2. @fer-no65 Haha thank you! I’m still very much alive and visiting the site, but all the nonsense surrounding F1 over the last few years has rather dampened my interest

        1. And where on earth is @PrisonerMonkeys? I miss him too – would be great to see what he thinks of Bernie nowadays :-)

    8. Sunday drive for Kimi show around Ferrari’s test track, makes it look so easy..

    9. Given Vettel’s close association with Bernie (a known critic of the V6 engines) and the fact that both Red Bull and Ferrari have called for a return to the V8 engines, I can’t help but feel that Vettel’s comments about the V6 engines and his supposed threat of quitting are little more than unsubtle pandering to Bernie and motivated by a desire to try and shift things back in his favour…

    10. Well Sebastian, why don’t you quit then?

      I absolutely don’t like Ecclestone and the current state F1 is in financially is an absolute major issue. But the one thing a applaud is the change to a more energy- and environment-friendly engine. Even diehard petrolheads can’t ignore the fact that this planet can’t survive 100 more years of humans using it the way they have used it in the last 100 years. So everyone has to make those sacrifices and try to make their ecological footprint that bit smaller and that everyone includes Formula 1

      1. He said he didn’t quit because it is still the fastest race series. (If there was a F1 2004 spec series around I think he would jump)

        The world can keep gas guzzlers, we just need to switch to zero carbon fuels like bio fuels…. or run a supercharger through the ERS if you want to add power, economy, and complexity, and keep the noise. No need to kill what alot of people loved F1 for…

      2. @gdewilde
        Toyota which is a pioneer of hybrid technology has shown no interest in F1 since 2009 (when the KERS was introduced), which proves that hybrid technology doesn’t need F1 in order to improve or to be developed. Building environment friendly engines can be done in closed laboratory, F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. All this “road relevance” & “green” talk about the new engines is absolutely BS, first this new PU’s are not green, second they are not road relevant simply because manufacturers should have experience in the hybrid field first in order to build those PU’s which is absolute nonsense if we still consider F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport.

    11. I want to see Rubens in one of the Caterham seats. Someone with his experience is less likely to crash into Hamilton when being lapped. It’s all about minimising risk now for me in Abu Dhabi. Get it done Lewis!!

    12. I think Seb has been reasonably dignified, considering what a disaster this year’s been for him. Still, it’s been great to have a finger-free year.

      1. Amen to that.

    13. Vettel, stop crying. Just because your boring domination is over. Ferrari was the wrong choice for you mate.

      1. Indeed. If you notice, both Kimi & Vettel are struggling with their car set-up and balance mostly rear. Now that Alonso will be gone, Ferrari will have design and develop the car according to liking of these two-friend-team-mates who’ve similarity in their problems.
        I’ve a feeling most likely it’ll go horribly wrong (reason: Ferrari had flexibility for designing with Alonso, now it’s narrowed with specific needs of these drivers), but on the other hand Kimi will get to beat Vettel, ‘coz both will get similar cars, either both will be happy or both struggling in 2015.

        1. @functor Kimi’s been missing front-end grip. He needs to be able to point the front accurately, that’s what he’s been saying, and hoping he’s going to get next year with James Allison’s input. Vettel has been missing his blown diffuser and the planted *back* end that gave him.

          I have a feeling Seb is in for a nasty surprise on the downforce and stability front. The honeymoon could be brief.

          Also I suspect Renault will have made more progress with the engine than Ferrari, and the Honda could well be ahead of them too.

          Anyway I agree Kimi is favourite to come out ahead, fighting for something like 6th.

          1. @lockup
            I would be very surprised if Ferrari boys esp Vettel comes on top of RB guys.
            Kimi has gone through tough season, but difficulties makes you a better person (it’s an experience), so imagine Kimi driving RB, he’d do much better job than Vettel driving Ferrari next year.

            And that’s why Vettel might not feel good next year after taking a decision [RB or even McLaren-Honda might beat Ferrari]. That’s why he’s having such comments to create a base for leaving F1, etc for V6 engines and what not. He’s got his 4WDC, he might want to do other stuff maybe instead of getting humiliated by 1WDC or 0WDC guys. isn’t it? That’s what he’s planning on. OK, got scared of Ricciardo and want new challenge/brand-name/ferrari/culture/people/money, then face any of Kimi, Alonso, Button, Lewis as team-mates,

            Ha! People who think he’d do a schumacher are ignorant, Ferrari isn’t as it used to be, now there are so many changes just in 2013-2014. And moreover, the competitiveness amongst other teams – Williams, RB, Merc, even FI, McLaren is gonna increase. The only people who can do Schumacher or Newey is Mercedes guys, otherwise it’s very competitive.

            Mr. Vettel, one of your closest F1 friends is gonna humiliate you next year in 2015. I would like to see how your friend will become your rival – Interesting !- just like Nico/Lewis.

            AFTER kimi leaves, I want Nico Hulkenberg alongside Vettel and then truely compare both of them.

            PS: Apart from his driving, I passionately hate his character how he’s grown in F1, still a crying-baby. People mature out by that age, even Ricciardo & Bottas are very matured.

            1. @functor Except he isn’t?

          2. If the handling of the car is as skittish as this year, then both Ferrari drivers will probably be surprised by the car..

          3. I suspect the opposite. Don’t forget that engine manufacturers will have to use tokens in order to develop their PU’s, if Renault will adopt the Mercedes like turbo/compressor separation they will run out of tokens unlike Ferrari which separates the turbo/compressor block but not quite as the Mercedes solution.

    14. It’s absolutely awful to see how Caterham are mercilessly being wound up. There’s absolutely no point them racing in Abu Dhabi since they have no future in the sport. If I was a driver then I don’t think I’d want to associate myself with the team going forward.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        16th November 2014, 12:44

        @georgeod the reason I see is to grab 10th prize money, given Marussia couldn’t make it. I wonder why Marussia couldn’t find an emergency investor, if I had the millions in my pocket, I would definitely support Marussia ten times instead of those green junk cars.

        1. @omarr-pepper For sure that is a good reason to compete, but since they have already made a lot of staff redundant and clearly have no future in F1, I think they should have saved the money and used it to pay staff and suppliers.

        2. The other day someone said that because Caterham were in administration, then they wouldn’t get any prize money. I don’t know if that is true, but the fact they are laying off staff before the end of the season would suggest it is. No competent administrator could justify keeping the team running and continuing to increase their debt level until the end of the year if the team isn’t going to be paid? Mind you, how old is the team? If it is less than two years old then they won’t get a cent anyway, even if they had already won the series they still wouldn’t get a cent.
          So, “no payments because you’re in administration” and “no payments for two years” leaves Caterham’s sole form of income down to TV advertising, but hardly anyone watches F1 races because they are on Pay-TV, which means Caterham … well, they don’t get even enough to pay their bills.
          So, the message from F1 management is very clear: “New teams? We don’t want them”.

        3. @omarr-pepper, I suspect the reason why Marussia couldn’t find investment is because their debts are so colossal that nobody is willing to take over the company and take on those liabilities.

          The last publicly available balance sheet – year end of 2012 – indicated that the team had already racked up debts of £133 million, debts which the owner eventually had to write off as completely unrecoverable.

          In 2013, meanwhile, Marussia lost another £58 million, which was the highest ever recorded loss for an F1 team. Again, it was only because their owner was willing to forgo payments and effectively write off those debts from 2013 that the team even survived into 2014 – which seems to explain why, after ending the best part of £200 million out of pocket, their owner seems to have had enough this year.

          Overall, the most plausible reason why nobody wants to buy Marussia is the fact that, over the past few years, they have been racking up debts at a staggering rate – if they were burning through cash at the same rate this year, any new prospective owner would probably be picking up a bill for at least £60 million, and any loans the team have taken on would probably be at punitive rates of interest.

          OK, the prize money they would have received for 2015 might have gone a fair way towards eliminating those debts, but even so, finding the money to run the team for 2015 would be a difficult task. It might explain why Caterham, although somewhat moribund, may look like the better option – they probably haven’t racked up quite as much debt as Marussia, although by now their reputation is pretty badly tarnished.

          1. As I understand it, if Marussia change owners, they need to start their 2 years before being paid all over again, meaning they would require some good corporate advertising to support them, but the move to Pay-TV has discouraged the levels of corporate advertising necessary to support a new team, so … huge debts.
            I suspect Marussia’s debts are fairly ordinary for an F1 team, and they aren’t one of the front running teams.
            Altogether, this means F1 is becoming more and more less and less.

    15. I am willing to become the personal butler of the person who gets Bernie out of F1. Spread the word.

      1. @irejag Can we see your “International Guild of Professional Butlers” certification first please…

        1. @psynrg
          Unfortunately I was black listed by the “guild”. A few years back I was accused of assisting my employer at the time in some “questionable” activities. False charges, of course. Now I just work as a Freelance Butler.

    16. Lot of people bashing Vettel, but when I read something like “It just does not feel like a normal [racing] car to me.” I’m concerned about him next season. I think he should join Indycar and emulate Mansell.

    17. Just to add to Caterham’s misery, Lotterer has turned down the offer of a drive for Abu Dhabi. It’s particularly bad news as I believe they have used up their allowed quota of drivers under the sporting regs, so unless Kobayashi agrees to drive, they’re going to have to go begging to the FIA for dispensation to run yet another driver. And all the noises suggest that after Kobayashi was dumped, that relationship has come to a fairly nasty end.

      1. Just to expand on that. Article 19.1a of the sporting regs says:

        During a season each team will be permitted to use four drivers. Changes may be made
        at any time before the start of the qualifying practice session provided any change
        proposed after 16.00 on t
        he day of scrutineering receives the consent of the stewards.
        Additional changes for reasons of force majeure will be considered separately.

        Caterham have run three of their possible four already this season. Currently none of those three are down to drive in Abu Dhabi; Lotterer has turned down the drive, Ericsson has terminated his contract, and all signs point to Kobayashi no longer wanting to drive for them*. So they have two empty seats and, under the regs, they can only run one new driver.

        The regs do allow for more drivers to be brought in under force majeure, but it’s very debatable whether that would apply in this situation. It’s meant to account for situations beyond the control of the team, but their current troubles seem directly attributable to their own neglegence and incompetence. And given that sort of ambiguity, would the FIA really be prepared to give them a helping hand when, ultimately, the purpose of the venture is simply to secure some winnings? I guess the only way they could leverage the point would be to highlight all the companies which currently remain unpaid and may suffer financially if they’re not able to secure the money and pay them back. But that seems a pretty difficult angle to exploit.

        *remember the bodged wishbone debacle with the public spat between Kobayashi and Caterham. He is still under contract to them, but I suspect if he didn’t want to race there would be plenty of clauses in his contract which they would already have violated in some fashion when they dumped him in favour of Lotterer, and since they went into administration.

    18. @keithcollantine, Perfect timeing ! according to the Guardian, 40,000 Maasai are to be evicted from their homeland to make way for a private hunting reserve for the DUBAI Royal family.

    19. So a lot of people have basically given the Administrators £1.5 million in order to pay back already rich clients under the guise of racing in Abu Dhabi, pretty cynical on their part.

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