We live in interesting times.
Right now there are a lot of people wondering round the F1 paddock nervously glancing at their generic mobile devices, checking to see if their team is next to call in the administrators. On Wednesday last week the lads and lasses of Caterham arrived at the factory to find the doors locked and a message on twitter about administrators and trying to get the team refinanced. The word was Bernie had agreed to the team missing the next two races due to them having no money. Then over the weekend rumours started that Marussia wouldn’t be at the US GP either. Monday morning saw confirmation on social media that the team was in the hands of the administrators who were also looking to refinance.
You wait years for a team to buy at rock bottom prices than two turn up at once! except there are no buyers out there for two failed teams. The only thing they have of value is that they are F1 teams. And that only works if they pay for that entry … and turn up to every event. On November 1st the FIA will expect a cheque for £60,000 from Caterham and slightly more from Marussia to pay for their entry next year. Oddly the entry fee is based on the number of points the team got the previous year. So Marussia having got those two world championship point, have to pay more than Caterham who have nothing.
There is also a question mark over weather Marussia signed up to the concord agreement before 2009, after that date any team that goes into insolvency (and why would you be calling the administrators in, if you weren’t insolvent). Is automatically banned from taking part in any future races. It was Manor racing which originally formed the team as Virgin, but that all got sold to the Russians and the key question is; was the signing of the agreement by the old team or the new team. If the consensus is no Marussia signed after 2009, they won’t even have an F1 entry to sell, it’ll all be over.
From what I've heard, the debt Marussia currently has could conceivable keep a small third world dictatorship in electric nipple clamps and gold plated AK-47 for a very long time. These boys have an eye watering large debt that isn't the sort of thing an "investment company" will want to take on.
Which is a real shame in my opinion. For Jules, for the team and for Max, who is never going to get another drive in F1 … ever. And we can all kiss goodbye to that five point banker each race!
With Sauber being touted as the next team to call in the administrators and Lotus not long after that, we could be looking at a grid of 16 cars next year, and then we have this vague promise of three cars teams. An idea only Bernie and CVC seem enthusiastic about. There are rules apparently for all of this to happen, but they are deadly top secret and no one is allowed to tell us, the paying public, what those rules are.
What I think there is, is a total vacuum if ideas and love for the sport at the top. CVC are just trying to rape the thing for all its cash and don’t appear to give a shit how much blood is getting sloshed around to achieve that. Two teams have almost certainly gone to the wall and Bernie is wittering onto the Daily Mail business section (that bastion of calm, considered, fact based investigative journalism) about the upper fifth form selling old cars to the lower third. But only if they let them have their tuck privileges and Fotherington-smyth is allowed to drive the car because he’s driven his dads Audi R8 at least twice.
Someone, not necessarily anyone who actually knows the truth, says the teams need 60 days’ notice before they can roll out these third cars. Which means we almost certainly won’t see this at the last race. But if the teams continue to fall by the way side at the current rate, next year could be interesting. And by interesting, I mean a whole idiots convention of stupidness, If you think a double points finale is pushing the limit of plausibility then the 2015 season is going to be a real humdinger for you. A return to the glory days of the FIA/CVC/Bernie sticking their oar when they don’t like the results and random rule changes.
I think we should all be worried about where F1 is going. Patched up grids, no idea who wins and who gets what points, new cars appearing for a few races, the big boys getting further and further ahead. Even multiclass racing has been suggested as a way to fill the grids, with GP2 teams filling in for missing teams. Make no mistake here, F1 is at a real crisis point, there is too little money concentrate at the top, what money that is available is being withheld from the teams that need it most. The sport is being run as a business to make money, not as a way of promoting excellence through engineering and skill.
But all that is just depressing isn’t it. Let’s look at the racing instead, at least that’s been good this year.
I rather like this American track; The drag off the line up the hill is made for TV, then the high speed sweeping curves to play follow the leader. A couple of off camber right angle overtaking zones, then a nice fast straight into a challenging technical section made for cars with balance and poise to dance through. The cars need plenty of grunt for the long bits, but a well-balanced car can make up time in the sweeping and technical corners.
It gets bonus points for not being on some industrial estate or down town car park and with a crowd that is pretty good. These aren't he fans that are leaving NASCAR in droves either, these are the knowledgeable types that like to see a good race and have a good time.
So yeah, I think its pretty good track with lots of potential for a good race.
Do you remember the first time we came here ? it was brand spanking new and the track had yet to be rubbered in, so it was like a skating rink. That was the first big event on the track and it made it a bit of a lottery. Well, the feeling is, these new torquey cars of 2014 might well struggle to find enough grip this weekend.
Mercedes have been making a big song and dance all over the social media world about winning the 2014 constructors title, a bit of good news in all the doom and gloom, the expectation now is that they'll let the boys have a proper go at racing this weekend. there has been a lot of discussion about Nico and his lost win in Russia. Lots of "pundits" would have you believe that he'd beaten Lewis off the line and would have cruised to and easy win, if only he hadn't made a tiny silly little mistake. I think that's not the first tiny little mistake he's made this year and probably won't be his last.
In a straight fight, Lewis has made less mistakes on the track than Nico. Rosberg has made more unforced errors this year, the missed turn in Monaco, braking too late in Monza twice, braking far too late again in Sochi and fumbling the pass on Lewis in Spa and almost taking them both out. Call it a lack of maturity or not responding well to the pressure if yo like, but its not the best way to win a world championship.
He's still as fast as Lewis and if he keeps it all together has just as much chance as his team mate of winning this weekend.
Okay, so The Merc up front, Williams next, Danny could be on for a podium if he can keep up with the Williams. Vettel driving for the Lolz now and Ferrari trying to impress in a key market.
Torro Rosso, Lotus and Sauber racing with one eye on the hot line to the accountants.
REMEMBER ... There are no Caterhams or Marussias to come last here, it will be a new face at the back this week. This could be your chance to make up some points on those that haven't bothered to update their teams.
Choose from Maldonardo, Sutil and That Mexican chap. Grosjean is better than all of them so he's safe. An outside bet would be Kvyat or Vergne. But i think realistically, baring any last lap idiocy, it'll be a Lotus or Sauber driver.
Right that's long enough, time for bed
Don't forget to update your predictions before friday. Good luck.