Daily Archives: April 13, 2010

Chinese Grand Prix in doubt for 2011

Just a few days after concerns were expressed about the forthcoming  Korean Grand Prix, there are now worries concerning the future of the Chinese Grand Prix.

When the Shanghai circuit began in F1 in 2004, the orgainsers signed a 7-year contract, which expires next year. The track cost a total of $350m, boasts a capacity of 200,000 and has one of the largest structures in Formula 1. But, apart from the contract, there are problems.

While the capacity for spectators is massive, there have been large struggles to get people to attend. Many grandstands lie completely empty on race day every year. It is so bad that the Turn 12 and 13 grandstand has been turned into a giant advertising board. The reason why not many tickets are bought is because of the methods that tickets are obtained.

The circuit gives out huge amounts of tickets for free to corporate guests and companies. If they don’t want them (a lot of them don’t), they sell them off for a much lower rate than the actual official price for tickets. This means that, no matter how many people attend, very little sales revenue is made at all.

Because of a lack of finance, it must be difficult for the organisers to pay Bernie Ecclestone for their next contract. While the Bahrain circuit (who also joined in 2004), just had their contract extended to until 2013, there have been no extensions for the Chinese circuit so far.

It is possible for the Chinese government to step in and save the Grand Prix, but I’m not sure that they will. While the Grand Prix is good for bringing in a few corporate sponsors in China, there is less interest from outside the country. And, for the amount of money they would have to pour in, they could spend their money much better. Anyways, I don’t like the Shanghai circuit, so I wouldn’t be sad to see it go.

Symonds allowed to work as F1 consultant

It has been revealed that Pat Symonds, who was banned from Formula 1 for 3 years after the crash-gate scandal, has been allowed to work in Formula 1 as a consultant only.

Yesterday, it was announced that the FIA, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds had reached an agreement, that none of them would pursue charges against each other, as long as they took 3-year bans each. However, according to Symonds, he can now still work in Formula 1, as a consultant through his company, Neutrino Dynamics.

Today, he made an announcement, saying that he would continue to work in Formula 1 wherever possible:

"Under this agreement Pat Symonds acknowledges that it was his duty 
to prevent such an event occurring and, in not doing so, he must 
share in the responsibility attached to this incident.

As such, and with the best interests of the sport in mind, he has 
agreed with the FIA that he will not take a direct operational 
role in Formula 1 until the end of 2012 nor will he take any 
similar role in any team involved in any other FIA series until 
the end of 2011.

This agreement does not prevent him acting as a consultant to any 
team during this period and he will continue to contribute to the 
sport in this, and other, ways.

In the light of this agreement, both he and the FIA consider the 
matter to be at an end."

I simply cannot believe that, after only one day, he would try to worm his way into F1. Even if it was possible for him to be a consultant for Formula 1 teams and get away with it, the FIA can’t just allow this to happen. He orchestrated a crash, which is unbelievibly dangerous, and a full 3-year ban is minimal for what he did.

Here’s the bigger problem. Symonds happens to be the nicer of the two. What is Briatore going to try?

Ferrari to use Bahrain engines in China

The Ferrari 056 engine

The Ferrari 056 engine

Ferrari have said that they will use the engines that they had previously removed, during the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.

During the first race of the season, both Fernando Alonso’s and Felipe Massa’s engines became overheated after qualifying, and the team took the precautionary measure of changing both engines. They have not been used since, but Ferrari have since announced that they are fit to be used during the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.

The head of engine and electronics, Luca Marmorini, said:

We have carried out an in-depth study into what happened and the
two problems are not related to one another. In Sepang, Fernando’s
engine suffered a structural failure, of a type we had never
seen during the winter. We believe there was a role played by
the unusual way in which the driver had to use the engine during
the race, because of the gear selection problems he experienced
right from the start.

Additionally, there is no connection with the problem the Sauber
team experienced on the engine front at the last race, which we
believe was down to an issue with electronic sensors.

Each car has eight engines it can use per driver over the season
and we plan our usage strategy around this. As a precaution, we
opted not to use the Bahrain race engines in Australia, but they
will be used in China, having concluded that they are fit for
purpose, despite what happened at the Sakhir circuit.

Marmorini also explained that the Shanghai circuit wasn’t too stressing on the engines, which is why they put it in:

I would describe it as medium load. It features a very long
straight, but nothing that causes any particular concern for
the power unit and also, the ambient temperature is not usually
very high, which makes life easier on the engine front.

As we all know, each driver is allowed to use up to 8 engines per season, with each engine after this resulting in a grid penalty. Fernando Alonso has already used 3 engines at different points: two across the Bahrain GP weekend, and one for Australia and Malaysia, which has failed. It is unclear how many Felipe Massa has used, but I believe that he has used 2.

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