Newey given top honour
Red Bull designer Adrian Newey has been awarded the prestigious Segrave Trophy at the Royal Automobile Club.
Former bosses Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head joined Sir Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill to honour Newey who has built title-winning cars for Williams, McLaren and Red Bull.
Bernie stirs new tensions with Todt
Tensions have risen between Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt in recent weeks, and now Bernie has made his feelings known with an unexpectedly personal swipe at the FIA president.
“Jean Todt is a poor man’s Max [Mosley],” he told the Daily Express. “He has been travelling around the world doing what Max didn’t do too much — kissing the babies and shaking the hands. It is probably good for the FIA, but we don’t need it in Formula 1.” He added that Todt had “not so much had a positive effect on F1”.
Todt, who has been keeping a relatively low profile recently, offered a measured response to the Financial Times. “It is important not to overreact,” said the Frenchman. “I feel that with confrontation, unless it is necessary to achieve a result, you lose time. I prefer to achieve results with harmony rather than confrontation.”
So what’s it all about? Publicly at least Ecclestone’s main gripe is with the 1.6-litre turbo rules, which were confirmed for 2013 some months ago. Despite the fact that all parties were involved in the discussions — the process actually started under Mosley — Ecclestone believes that the turbo plans should be dropped.
He has a genuine fear that they won’t sound spectacular enough to properly satisfy spectators, and believes that F1 should be about noisy V8s. He’s also well aware that there’s a major cost implication for competitors.
Things have been ticking along quite nicely under the V8 engine freeze, but a new formula will force an explosion in costs. His feelings are shared by the teams, which met with Bernie in Malaysia. Of the engine manufacturers, only Renault has any real enthusiasm.
Asked by Motor Sport about his “poor man’s Max Mosley” comment, Bernie playfully said: “I’m very happy with Mr Todt. I think he’s working very hard and he’s doing a good job. Max is very rich, correct? And Todt said he’s working his backside off and he’s not being paid for what he does. Which is all wrong, anyway. So that was the comment…”
He was more serious about the turbo issue: “The only thing we disagree on, and I hope he’s right and I’m wrong perhaps, is that I think the whole thing about F1 is the atmosphere and the noise. The first time people come to F1, it’s ‘Wow.”
Turbos aside, the bigger picture is the commercial background of the sport. In April 2001 Ecclestone and Mosley signed the now infamous 100-year F1 commercial rights agreement. Since then it has been ticking away like a time bomb, before finally clicking into gear as of January 1 2011.
Todt has asked the FIA lawyers to study the agreement, and he appears to have accepted that it is set in stone, telling the FT: “It is what we have…”
The fact that Todt has been pushing for a better deal for the FIA has presumably rankled with Bernie, and that process will continue with negotiations over the next Concorde Agreement, which will start in 2013.
Bernie told Motor Sport: “Normally when you make a contract, and you don’t stick to the contract, things happen, which is not always good for everyone. But I’m sure the FIA will stick to their contract. Certainly we will.”
So does it annoy him that Todt has even been looking into the deal? “No. Anything that anyone can do, I can look after…” Adam Cooper
Austin aims at wide appeal
The Austin Grand Prix venue has been branded the “Circuit of the Americas” in an attempt to position it as a destination for fans from all over the continent.
Race chairman Tavo Hellmund has strong connections in Mexico and has made it clear from the start that he wants to attract visitors from Latin America. With Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado joining the Brazilian contingent in F1, the pitch is well timed.
“We are building a destination for entertainment and business, not simply a race track,” said Hellmund. “This brand reflects that entire idea.”
The ‘COTA’ will also host MotoGP from 2013, the year after the maiden F1 race.
US GP feature, page 76