Monday, 21 September 2009

In Paris, the FIA ruled on Renault (based in Paris)

News of the fate of Renault, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds has just broken.

Renault have a two year suspended ban from F1
Flavio Briatore has been banned from F1 and driver management indefinitely
Pat Symonds has been banned from F1 for 5 years.

To be honest, I am a McLaren supporter but ultimately a fan of Formula 1 as a whole.

I cannot believe how the FIA court of justice based in Paris has ruled so unevenly today compared with how they treated McLaren nearly 18 months ago.

Let's go over the two incidents committed by both the McLaren and the Renault team.

Mclaren looked at some drawing of the then under development Ferrari. As designers in F1 are generally on a similar wavelength and the ruling parimeters are so tight, in is unclear how much of the new McLaren racecar was copied from the Ferrari. As a result, the FIA felt it was to hand out a record sized fine of $50million. This is after the Mclaren team already fired the designer involved and 'moved' Ron Dennis away from the F1 arm of the (small F1 based) company.

Renault, on the other hand committed one of the most dangerous offences in motorsport: to make one of their drivers crash on purpose. Yes, we may get blaise about accidents in F1 as there hasn't been a life threatening crash since the death of Senna at Imola. That is if you ignore the Massa incident only months ago.

A modern carbon-fibre made racecar is capable of withstanding huge impacts and if you look at Robert Kubica's massive shunt in Canada, where he walked away uninjured, it is easy to dismiss any utterings against the FIA's ruling.

At the last race meeting, two weekend's before the FIA was due to rule over this alleged case, Flavio, in his normal loud-mouthed way stated that he'll sue Piquet Jr (the driver forced to crash) and he, Pat and the Renault F1 team will fight this nonsense out in the courts, contesting all allegations against them. Fernando Alonso, Renault's main driver said he'll not comment until after the case was concluded (when he said that about McLaren, he stabbed everyone in the back).

Then the Renault F1 team, a week before the court case was heard, shocked the F1 community by firing both Flavio and Pat. No-one, it seemed, could predict what was going on at Renault, as they then announced that they would not contest the charges against their F1 team. Although in the statement, they did not admit the intirerity of what happened at Singapore in 2008 (the race meeting where Piquet Jr. crashed into a concrete barrier), they did admit there were decisions made that were not in the spirit of the sport, laying blame directly at the doors of Pat Symonds and Flavio Britore.

When McLaren went to court in Paris, they were not as open as Renault have been, but key personnel had been, more were already in the process of moving on, just as Renault had done. As I understand it, the FIA have not officially banned Ron Dennis (of McLaren) from the sport but they wanted him out. So in theory, Dennis is able to come back. But the FIA still hold a 2 year suspended banned over the McLaren team.

It is, however a suitable punishment for Flavio Briatore. He is a Formula 1 man and has been invoved with the sport for many years. The 'unlimited' ban from motorsport and especially F1 will be hard for him to take. Pat Symonds' similarly, will find the next 5 years difficult and then the notion of employing him from the point of view of F1 teams, seems to be beyond anyone in the paddock. Time, may change this.

Bernie Ecclestone as yet, of the time of writing, to make a statement about his close friend and co-owner of Queen's Park Rangers FC, Flavio. This situation does not happen for F1 boss Ecclestone. He is normally the one controlling the in's and out's of the sport and to be put in a position where he is personally involved with one of the parties would never happen.

It is of note, that in the recent FOTA/FIA public wrangle, Flavio Briatore was a vocal member, as was BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Thiessen. BMW since have announced their withdrawal from the sport (due in part the high cost and lack of success of the team). This wrangle was due to Max Mosley, head of the FIA, creating a budget cap on testing, development and general running costs of F1 teams. So it is strange to think one of his main opponents has been disgraced and another leaving due to an ironic lack of cash.

Bernard Rey, head of Renault (the car company) has released a statement in which, Renault and the Renault F1 team except the ruling of the FIA and the subsequent punishment, with a wanting to move on from this whole affair.

This weekend, the F1 circus travels to far eastfor the 2009 Singaporean Grand Prix. Nearly 1 year after the Piquet Jr. accident and nearly 1 week on from the firing of Briatore and Symonds.

(This news has come out on what should be ex-England football manager and footballing legend, Sir Bobby Robson's day.
But then again, when has F1 and the FIA cared about anyone else outside the motorsport arena.)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Oh yes, and....

....My ashtray doesn't open properly and there's a blue wire hanging from behind it!


Oh yes, Kolo

It's been an eventful time for my beloved A2 and sadly it's not been good.

Where to start? Well, since the major work, Kolo's been running well. Some of it would be to do with how light my wallet was and Kolo returned better MPG than before.

Then the dream (er, dream?) started to fade. SL used the A2 to do a First Aid duty as it was a distance away and came back reporting the indicators were not working. One flash and then nothing. Great I thought, wonder how much this'll cost as I found all fuses were OK.

AforAudi's Andy said it was a common fault and was a simple relay but being an A2 it wasn't in a simple place and the stereo would need to come out. Fine I thought, shouldn't be that difficult, couple of Stereo keys, job done.

Well, as I was a regular now, they tried to fit me in early, which I thought was good of them. But in the end it turned out to be anything but a blessing. Picked up Kolo 4 hours later than they hoped (still a week earlier than if they hadn't tried to fit me in) and I drove off £77 lighter. A couple of minutes down the road, I went from radio to the inbuilt CD-changer and....

Error 3. Oh F**k off I thought to myself. I was having a terrible day, we were running hours late and we still had to leave Glasgow for a trip. I turned around using the perfectly working indicators and spoke to Andy. He was busy and it was 5.30 on a Friday but we strangely worked on fixing it together. Sadly after an hour and a half of trying and 6 damaged CDs later, Error 3 was still flashing. Both our hands had cuts and the Climate control unit had been scratched (my OCD was working overtime now) and it was really turning out to be a mother of all days for me and not a good one for AforAudi or Kolo, or in fact SL who was having to pack for myself and control the Milly Moo. The Milly Moo is our baby kitten we have just, err, bought/born/delivered, oh, got.

Oh Error 3. Anyway a new Symphony2 CD-changer, Tape and FM/AM radio head unit is between £390 and £450 from various Audi-dealerships.

So I have to ask myself, how much is it worth, to listen to my music?

(There are options, eBay have a number of Symphony2's (£150 without any kind of warranty) but only one or two are for A2's thanks to Audi's varying dashboard designs. I could listen to my iPod though the Tape adaptor but my iPod touch is on the fritz and the sound isn't that great anyway.)

So I was wrong about Renault and TeamFlavio for 2010

....but who wasn't.

I was convinced it would be Renault that would go, not Flavio and Pat.

I wrote a comment on a previous post saying that Renault would sell up (to Flavio) because the negative PR from this would damage the brand
(which being in F1 really doesn't make their road-cars any more desirable) can concentrate on their Formula Renault series around the world instead.

Now, it seems Renault have outlasted F1 stalwart Flavio. Which, if we're all honest, we never saw coming.

But what's in it for Renault? Their name will be associated with a very dangerous incident where winning comes higher than safety. Considering Renault have strived for top marks from the EURO-NCAP safety tests for their road cars, I can't see how the two go together. In PR terms, this is the worst outcome surely?

What happens next with the FIA will interesting but it's strange to think back to Australia when we had Flavio, Pat & Ron (Dennis) all still on the Pit wall

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Renault out of F1

I'm not convinced Renault-Nissan have the stomach to continue in F1.

Carlos Ghosn (Renault Group CEO) has had to make key cost cutting decisions to pave the way to Renault profit. Nissan at the moment is keeping the group in the black, just. Renault however, is like a lead weight. Plus as an image boosting exercise, F1 doesn't have the halo factor it once had.

On track, the Renault engined RedBull have at least one title contending driver. Where are the Renault works team? Nowhere at the front, well not consistently. Redbull have 104.5 points (2nd) where Renault are 8th out of 10 with just 16 points.

The Formula Renault series' are going well, the racing Meganes are too.

Then you have the new Piquet-gate story. Not what you want from an image point of view; the Renault brand dragged though the courts by Flavio et al.

If you had a business decision to make; cost cutting in your motorsport division, what would you do?

Renault have a long line of success as an engine maker but will it again as a constructor? Flavio has enough to buy out the Renault stake in the team. Renault could continue with RedBull and TeamFlavio as suppliers can still claim an active part of the F1 circus without the negative headlines as a constructor.

Remember Renault (and BMW) only became a constructor during the time when F1 was going that way 8+ years ago because it would have been advantageous from a technology point of view. F1 isn't still moving that way. With a return to garage teams with off the shelf engines; look at how BrawnGP (Mercedes powered), RedBull and now Force India (Mercedes again) are at the front.

The new rules mean the added cost as a constructor making it's own engines isn't the way to get trophies anymore. BMW know it, Carlos knows it, it's just a matter of when and not if.

Maybe as a owning team principle, Flavio will focus on wining on the track and not in the courts.