Daily Archives: December 4, 2009

Renault considering various bids for team

Renault F1 Team

Renault F1 Team

Renault has 2 main bidders to take control of  its Formula 1 team. David Richards’ Prodrive faces competition from Luxembourg investment fund Genii Capital.

Renault’s executive committee met in Paris yeaterday to discuss the future of the team, before a decisive board meeting next week. It is understood that no formal decisions were made in the meeting, but the executives are edging towards which bid they wish to go for.

This was first reported by the French newspaper Le Parisien this morning, and has been confirmed by sources close to the deal.

Genii Capital’s plan is being run by businessman Gerard Lopez. Their plan is to run the team as Renault for the next two seasons. 75 to 100% of the team will be bought under this plan.

There are a few reasons why Genii Capital’s plan is being favoured – but mostly because it has the backing of Bernie Ecclestone. The executives seem to prefer Genii Capital, but management are more inclined towards Prodrive.

When asked about this, Bernie Ecclestone answered: “We’ve got to get the whole Renault thing sorted out. We are in the middle of doing it now. I feel confident that we’ll see Renault next year in Formula 1 under the name Renault and the year after and the year after that.”

Kimi Raikkonen joins Citroen WRC team

Kimi Raikkonen- driving Fiat Grande Punto in the Rally of Finland

Kimi Raikkonen- driving Fiat Grande Punto in the Rally of Finland

Citroen has announced that Kimi Raikkonen will join their junior Red-Bull backed WRC team for 2010. He will be partnered by former Junior WRC champion Sebastien Ogier, who joined the team last year. Next year, they will take part in 12 of the 13 rounds, missing the New Zealand rally.

Raikkonen has signed a one-year deal with Citroen, and has not ruled out a return to Formula 1 in the future, but only with a team with the potential to win championships.

Kimi said: “I always wanted to compete in rally, especially in the World Rally Championship at some point in my career. Thanks to Red Bull, I have the opportunity to drive the best car of the series with the Citroen C4. This is a new but very exciting challenge. For the moment we have a one-year contract and we will see how it goes for the future. I am really looking forward to testing the car and taking the start of the first rally.”

Citroen team boss Oliver Quesnel said:  “Red Bull’s commitment and energy are a perfect fit for Citroen’s ongoing thirst for victory,” Quesnel said. “We will continue to count on Sébastien and Dani to defend our world titles in 2010, and we will also be prolonging our association with Sebastien Ogier who showed outstanding potential this year. Last but not least, it is with immense joy that we welcome Kimi Raikkonen to our ranks. We are very proud that he has chosen Citroen.”

“In addition to the confirmation of these four crews, we will hopefully be able to announce other programmes over the coming weeks.”

Opinion- Why Qadbak Failed

BMW Sauber F1 Team

BMW Sauber F1 Team

Qadbak’s attempted takeover of BMW Sauber failed this week, as Sauber took over the team, and then received a spot on the 2010 grid. However, there is still a lot to analyse regarding this investor group.

Qadbak Investments Ltd is known to be a Swiss-based company registered in the British Virgin Islands. It claims to have a total portfolio value of £97bn, invested in natural resources, heavy industry, logistics and infrastructure. It  served as the vehicle for the purchase of the football club Notts County. This was in the news recently, when one of Qadbak’s senior representatives, Russell King, had £1.9 million of his assets frozen due to unpaid debt and fraud. The unpaid debt referred to a different company (Belgravia) with whom he tried to found a Dubai-based Formula 1 team.

The Notts County takeover is important here, as holes started to appear in their story. Notts County released a statement, naming two of the families in the Qadbak group as the Shafi and Hyat families. However, Anwar Shafi, a member of the Shafi family, denied any connection with Notts County or Qadbak. No statement was made by the Hyat family. Here, the structure of Qadbak is still unknown, which must have worried the FIA when Qadbak went to buy out BMW Sauber.

With no public news on the consortium, it is unclear whether the FIA were any more knowledgable on the matter than we were. It is more than likely they were, but this is inconclusive. The FIA wanted to increase the size of the grid to 13 (at one point 14) teams, so allowing Qadbak in seemed like a good idea. However, the secrecy that Qadbak had started to put doubts into people’s minds. Meyrick Cox, the managing director of Rothschild Bank, described Qadbak as a “wholly reputable orginisation”. This did not quell doubts, as the FIA were understood to have been pessimistic towards Qadbak’s entry. This showed when the FIA stalled on granting them a spot on the 2010 grid.

Eventually, due to doubts about their spot on the 2010 grid and investor funding issues, Qadbak pulled out of the buying of BMW, instead allowing Sauber to take over. Only a few days later, the FIA granted a place to the Sauber team. Their secrecy, which surely must have helped them hugely in the past, backfired on them, as an apparent lack of transparency cost them their grid spot.

There is no doubt that Qadbak will simply shift attention to Notts County, but their attempted foray into F1 has raised many difficult questions. In my opinion, their departure is a relief to many.