Tag Archives: Bernie Ecclestone

Scorpion Racing to buy out liquidated HRT team

A group of Canadian and American investors may just breathe life into the dead HRT Formula 1 team, after it was revealed that the team’s assets are being bought out. This has led to speculation that the group, known as Scorpion Racing, will attempt to bring the team back onto the F1 grid.

It is understood that the deal has the blessing of FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone, but it is unknown whether Scorpion Racing (if it is officially named as such) would be allowed onto the 2013 grid. The FIA deadline for 2013 applicants closed back in November 2012, and with the HRT liquidation soon after, the team were barred from re-competing in the sport.

Plans are believed to be in an “advanced stage”. Scorpion Racing plan to run the team from a base near the Silverstone circuit, and continue to run a Cosworth engine package and Williams gearbox.

Ecclestone has written to the team, stating: “Have you bought the HRT company? Because if you have, they [the FIA] would be accepting you.”

More details will be added as they emerge.

New Jersey race to be postponed to 2014 – Ecclestone

Next year’s planned Grand Prix of America, set to take place in New Jersey, has been offset until the 2014 season, according to Bernie Ecclestone.

The track, which features a stunning view of the Manhattan island, was rumoured to be behind schedule, but nevertheless Ecclestone has been unusually quick in pulling it off the 2013 calendar. Today he stated:

"They've run out of time. There's all sorts of things...and they didn't quite think 
it all through. They've had a wake-up call but the wake-up call came too late.

They couldn't get everything ready in time - that's the bottom line."

The main issues were believed to be with repairing roads and obtaining permits for the track. Bernie had hinted at this issue months ago, when he noted that the race organisers had not complied with the terms and conditions of the race contract.

If the New Jersey track is indeed completed for 2014, it will join the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi as the two new races for that season. The United States Grand Prix, located in Austin, is still set to go ahead at the end of this season.

Spa-Francorchamps future secured with 3-year deal

The fate of the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit has been secured for the time being, with circuit organisers penning a new 3-year deal to host Formula 1 through to 2015.

The deal was agreed with Bernie Ecclestone and Formula One Management a month ago, but has only recently been confirmed by chief race promoter Etienne Davignon.

The Belgian government has stated that it is to inject less funds into the venue, according to economy minister Jean-Claude Marcourt. However, he reiterated that the Grand Prix will continue to be used as a touristic event for the region.

In recent months, rumours have persisted that the track was to alternate races with the Ecclestone-owned Paul Ricard circuit in France. However, after a change in French government, this prospect quickly deteriorated, with Bernie citing politics as the reason for the change in plans.

Ecclestone approves revamp of Interlagos circuit

The Interlagos circuit pales in comparison to modern track facilities

The Interlagos circuit pales in comparison to modern track facilities

The Brazilian Grand Prix’s future looks to be more secure, as FOM ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone approved plans to revitalise the ailing racetrack.

The Autódromo José Carlos Pace is by far the most out-dated track on the F1 calendar, with a cramped pit lane, narrow track sections and crumbling grandstands compared to modern F1 standards.

Previous aging circuits such as Imola were booted off the F1 calendar for being too out of date, with no prospect of improvements. The Silverstone circuit was the most recent example, and only survived by agreeing to improve facilities into the future.

The Interlagos circuit has been cracking under the pressure of old age for a while now, and it was only a matter of time before it came under scrutiny. Thankfully, the circuit organisers have submitted plans for revised track facilities, including a brand new pit lane.

It is understood that the new pit lane will be located on the Reta Oposta straight, after the Senna “S” and Curva do Sol.

This was first reported by the O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper, who claimed that Ecclestone agreed with the new plans. Previously, Bernie has been quoted as saying:

"Brazil will have the next World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. It makes sense. I have 
long believed in Brazil — we've been there since 1972.

The future of Formula One Brazil depends now on major improvements at Interlagos. 
These events [World Cup, Olympics] are a great opportunity to look at the circuit, 
as well.

I can no longer be questioned by the teams about why we are racing at the worst 
circuit in the championship."

 

Bahrain GP analysis: No winners in farce of a weekend

Weeks and weeks before the Bahrain Grand Prix, we were already aware that a race should never have taken place in the troubled region. Aside from the blatant political motive, it was clear that the sport had put its personnel in danger. I’d like to say that we’ll never have to deal with such a farce again, but that’s wishful thinking.

Politics and profit win over sport

F1 has disgraced itself by allowing itself to be manipulated - and the FIA's to blame

F1 has disgraced itself by allowing itself to be manipulated - and the FIA's to blame

There are many to blame over what Formula 1 was forced to go through, but one organisation should have put a stop to it: the FIA.

Bernie Ecclestone is well known for putting profit first – I’m surprised that people expected him to act differently this weekend. Perhaps he was misinformed over the Bahrain situation, or maybe he took a calculated risk. Either way, he should not have been the one to make the final call over the event.

The FIA’s primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of all participants, and it was clear that they failed to do that. To add insult to injury, they allowed the race organisers to use the sport as a political tool – running the UniF1ed slogan throughout the weekend.

FIA Statue Article 1 states that “The FIA shall refrain from manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination in the course of its activites and from taking any action in this respect”. One of the sport’s most primary objectives has been made a mockery of, all in the name of profit.

The profiteers from this race, of course, are the Al Khalifa royal family. Having invested in and organised the race, they also stand to gain the most from the race, and they made absolutely sure they got their money’s worth this time. By doing so, though, they have disgraced what should be a pure sporting event.

This kind of farce has happened before – see F1 racing in South Africa in the 80s for more details – but it doesn’t hide the fact that last weekend was never about the racing.

Lotus finally deliver on promises

After three disappointing races, Lotus have finally shown their hand – and may well be the fifth team to win a race this year.

Kimi Raikkonen was able to challenge for the win on Sunday, but slipped away after the final stop. Regardless, it shows excellent progress from Melbourne, and Grosjean’s first ever podium proves that he’s up to the task as well.

Team principal Eric Boullier stated that Romain could even become world champion if he continues to improve, and I don’t doubt him. From qualifying in Australia, Grosjean was already proving that he could take on Raikkonen.

It’s not outrageous to suggest that Lotus could still be in contention in Spain in a few weeks time. If they do take the chequered flag first, then 5 different teams will have won one of the first 5 races, and that could set us up for a magnificent title battle.

Force India shut out of qualifying TV coverage

Force India have experienced the nasty side of what is supposed to be a fair sporting event

Force India have experienced the nasty side of what is supposed to be a fair sporting event

As many viewers of the Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying session had noticed, the Force India team were completely isolated in terms of television coverage.

While Paul di Resta made it through to Q3, absolutely no shots of either Force India car were shown at all during the three qualifying sessions. During a certain point when only Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg were out on track, the cameras focused on a Mercedes in the pits instead.

The team had pulled out of second practice yesterday, to alleviate employees’ fears of a repeat of the violence they were caught up in on Wednesday night.

Because of this, many have speculated that Bernie Ecclestone had ordered his FOM company – who organise and run the camerawork for all F1 events – to completely block the team out of today’s coverage.

A quote from Ecclestone only served to increase these calls:

"Nobody cares if someone is ninth or 11th. Only the people that are watching a 
particular team. I spoke to our people and they were more or less concentrating 
on who was going to be on pole, rather than somebody going to be 10th."
[Seems as if Bernie forgot that the cars in 9th and 11th were Fernando Alonso 
and Kimi Raikkonen"]

As well as this, MetroF1 correspondent Adam-Hay Nicholls had some worrying things to say on the incident over Twitter:

"Not the 1st time they've been instructed not to film a certain team"

[When asked what team was subject to a similar blackout] "All I'll reveal is 
that the name of the team no longer exists"

This was backed up by former FOM employee Nick Daman:

"When I worked for FOM it was well known that the punishment for stepping out 
of line was a TV Blackout ......"

What makes this incident so sickening is that Force India pulled out for the safety of their employees, not to take a stand against FOM or the Bahrain regime. It is understood that Ecclestone offered the team an armed escort back to the team hotel [provided they took part in FP2] but the team declined, opting to head home early.

Personally, I don’t know which is more worrying – that a team would be shut out for protecting its employees, or that this has been done before, and we haven’t noticed.

Bahrain crown prince and Ecclestone: Race will go ahead as planned

Ecclestone has insisted there is no danger of F1 returning to Bahrain

Ecclestone has insisted there is no danger of F1 returning to Bahrain

Both Bahrain’s Crown prince and Formula 1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone have reiterated that the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend will go ahead as planned, despite several incidents involving protestors and the teams.

Force India pulled out of second practice to avoid a repeat of Wednesday evening, when their team bus was caught up in a petrol bomb attack. Sauber team personnel reported seeing protests and fires on their way back to the hotel.

Despite this, crown prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has said that cancelling the race would simply “empower extremists”:

"I think cancelling the race just empowers extremists. For those of us trying to 
navigate a way out of this political problem, having the race allows us to build 
bridges across communities, to get people working together. It allows us to 
celebrate our nation. It is an idea that is positive, not one that is divisive."

Meanwhile, Ecclestone claimed that responsibility of the race had nothing to do with him:

"I can’t call this race off. Nothing to do with us. We’ve an agreement to be here, 
and we’re here. The national sporting authority in this country can call the race 
off. You can ask the FIA if they can."

Hacking group Anonymous threatened to take down the official F1 website in retaliation for the race going ahead. The site was down for several hours in the afternoon, but as of now it is back up and running. Other F1 websites have also been defaced in protest.

Barcelona and Valencia to alternate from 2013

The Circuit de Catalunya will soon alternate with Valencia

The Circuit de Catalunya will soon alternate with Valencia

The Circuit de Catalunya and the Valencia Street Circuit are to alternate hosting the Spanish Grand Prix from 2013 onwards.

Both venues have run into financial trouble in recent months. The Spanish government’s financial woes completely rules out any government interference, so an alternating track system was decided to be the best approach.

Bernie Ecclestone broke the news to Spanish radio station Cadana Ser today. He also clarified that both races would continue in 2012 as planned.

Barcelona hosted the Spanish Grand Prix from 1991 onwards, while Valencia is a relatively new addition to the Formula 1 calendar, joining in 2008. Neither circuit has proven popular with fans in recent years, due to frequently dull races and no scope for overtaking. It is not clear which track will be ditched for 2013.

The Spa circuit is also looking at a similar deal, with the Circuit Paul Ricard in France. The birthplace of motorsport, France has not hosted a Grand Prix since Magny Cours was dropped after 2008.

US Grand Prix back on 2012 calendar as construction resumes

The Circuit of the Americas is back on the calendar

The Circuit of the Americas is back on the calendar

The United States Grand Prix is back on the calendar, as disputes over payments to Bernie Ecclestone have been resolved.

After several failed payments to ringmaster Ecclestone, he hinted that the first race in America since 2007 would be shelved, after comptroller Susan Combs suspended all payments.

However, the Circuit of the Americas has today stated that Bernie has received payment, which has been confirmed by the fact that the race is back on the 2012 calendar.

Construction has also resumed at the circuit, ensuring the track will be completed before its inaugural race on the 18th November.

Here is the full 2012 calendar:

18 March            Australian GP
25 March            Malaysian GP
15 April            Chinese GP
22 April            Bahrain GP
13 May              Spanish GP
27 May              Monaco GP
10 June             Canada GP
24 June             European GP
8 July              British GP
22 July             German GP
29 July             Hungarian GP
2 September         Belgian GP
9 September         Italian GP
23 September        Singapore GP
7 October           Japanese GP
14 October          Korean GP
28 October          Indian GP
4 November          Abu Dhabi GP
18 November         US GP
25 November         Brazilian GP

Texas GP at point of collapse, says Ecclestone

The Circuit of the Americas is in serious trouble after recent disputes

The Circuit of the Americas is in serious trouble after recent disputes

F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone has said that he is ready to axe the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, after contract disputes in the last few days have ground construction to a halt.

In India rumours surfaced that the event was in trouble, but it has only been in recent days that the full extent of the contract collapse has been revealed. Ecclestone’s original contract with Tavo Hellmund’s Full Throttle Productions company – who are organising the race – has been cancelled in the last few days.

As well as this, a row between the track organisers and the event promoters has surfaced, and the track developers have stopped contsruction. This is because the developers have not received the race contract from Formula One Management – Bernie Ecclestone’s company.

Ecclestone is yet to receive a guarantee of several payments from the Circuit of the Americas, and has given them up to 3 weeks to resolve the issue. To make matters worse, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, who controls the money flow to the circuit, has stopped putting money into the project, stating that she will not put taxpayers’ money into the track until the race contract is secured.

Bernie explained the situation today from his point of view:

"We had an agreement with Full Throttle Productions. Everything was signed and 
sealed, but we kept putting things off like the dates, various letters of credit 
and things that should have been sent, but nothing ever happened.

Then these other people [Circuit of the Americas] came on the scene, saying that 
they wanted to do things, but that they had problems with Tavo [Hellmund]. They 
said they had the circuit, and that they wanted an agreement with me.

I told them they had to sort out the contract with Tavo, which they said they 
would. But that has gone away now because we've cancelled Tavo's contract as he 
was in breach.

We've waited six months for him to remedy the breach. He knows full well why 
we've cancelled. He's happy. But these other people haven't got a contract. All
we've asked them to do is get us a letter of credit.

We are looking for security for money they are going to have to pay us. That is 
via a letter of credit, normally from a bank. If people don't have the money they 
find it difficult to get the letter of credit, and so we don't issue a contract."

After a 4-year absence from the calendar, the United States is a prime market for Formula 1, and disputes like this will do the sport’s reputation in America no good whatsoever, considering the last debacle in 2005.

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