Motorsport Business Forum – Austin, 2012

To mark its return, KHP and its long-standing partner, the MotorSport Business Forum (MSBF), supported by payment solutions experts Rêv Worldwide, hosted the inaugural Texas Business Symposium in Austin, Texas on behalf of Red McCombs and Bobby Epstein, co-founders and investors of the Circuit of The Americas.
The full list of speakers  –  made up of Team Heads, Stakeholders, Series officials, Sponsors and Commercial Directors – were as follows:
  • Red McCombs, Founder of McCombs Partners and co-founder of Circuit of The Americas (Welcome Address)
  • Nick Fry – CEO Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team (Keynote Address)
  • Paul Hembery – Head of Pirelli Motorsport
  • Roy Sosa – Founder, Chairman and CEO of  Rêv Worldwide
  • Geoff McGrath – Managing Director of McLaren Applied Technologies
  • Mehul Kapadia, Vice President of Commercial Alliances and Sponsorships and Tata Communications.
  • Graeme Lowdon – President & Sporting Director at Marussia F1 Team
  • Pablo de Villota – Formula 1 Sponsorship Manager at Banco Santander
  • Bobby Epstein  Co-founder and Chairman at Circuit of The Americas

Here are excerpts from @rachelclarkef1’s notes and @MSBForum’s tweets from the event

Nick Fry: “Typically, teams spend $200m a year because there are so many people and because of the rate of development of technology. We start designing in July, design and develop till Christmas, then start manufacturing, ready to go at the end of January, test for a couple of months, start racing in Australia in March, race through to November in 20 locations.  For major corporations who want to advertise globally, there is nothing like it [F1]. Not dissimilar to Olympics or World Cup. It is a significant marketing opportunity”.

“This leads to different opportunities all around the world. We are good at going into emerging economies early on and getting a high level of interest early. We have been adding new venues regularly. That number will continue to grow, substituting European events. Russia and Mexico show huge demand for races, amplifying the marketing benefit”

“As an example, Airtel (India) decided to sponsor one race for Mercedes. They did an advert, got 2.5million views of the video in 2 days. Another unique aspect is technology. The people who watch are interested in the technology behind the car. Tech is important and what we need to do is to combine it with entertainment. Technology spins off to other areas, not just automotive. There are about 45,000 people who work in associated areas; all highly paid, signficant tech jobs”.

“The spin-offs are into defence, space, aerospace. The technology on cars, the composites, the electronics, the engine, the telemetry,  energy recovery etc is being used in lots of other areas of business. For example, train industry and fly-wheels, buses using hybrid tech. In our own case, the energy recovery system is going into the SLS Mercedes car. Next version is purely electric, all technology developed with help of F1 team. These are examples of direct spin-offs”.

Challenges: Like most sports, one of the main problems is with costs. Money is difficult to raise. Teams at the back and middle of the grid are struggling. We need to bring down costs. The benefits of winning are huge, so people spend vast amounts of money to be successful, to get more TV and publicity. And the FIA is trying with things like DRS, which allow overtaking; this keeps the excitement with more passing (and keeps viewers engaged).

Photo from MSBForum (c) @MSBForum

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Read all about it

The F1 world eagerly awaits announcement of news which will set of the Driver-Market Chain-Reaction. Well, it will be more of a small re-shuffle, than a chain-reaction as most drivers out of contract at the end of 2012 only have 2 or 3 options of seats to fill.

This announcement was rumoured to be made on Wednesday 26th September. At time of publishing this blog, no such announcement had been made.

The past few months has seen a frenzy of rumours, claims, counter-claims, denials, conjecture…. by journalists all vying  for the scoop of the year. Some F1 fans say they are getting annoyed by the rumours and just want a final confirmation of which team these drivers will be driving for in 2013. Unsurprisingly, the most talked-about of these drivers is Lewis Hamilton and from conversations with other F1 fans via Twitter, we all agree that his contract has been the most talked about and written about, that we all can recall.

Just to “prove” this point, I have performed very complex surveys* to establish how many articles were written about drivers in the year they signed their most recent contract i.e. end of their season with penultimate team.

1) Jenson Button moved from Brawn to McLaren in 2009.

Date Range: 1 Jan 2009 – 31 Dec 2009

Search Results: 228,000

2) Fernando Alonso moved from Renault to Ferrari in 2010.

Date Range: 1 Jan 2010 – 31 Dec 2010

Search Results: 693,000

3) Lewis Hamilton rumoured to move from McLaren to Mercedes OR stay at McLaren in 2012.

Date Range: 1 Jan 2012 – 26 Sept 2012

Search Results: 39,200,000^

What does this tell us? Actually, not a lot we did not know already. (1) Hamilton is a well-known figure in F1 and further afield. (2) Blogs/Social Media use is increasing annually so there are more articles posted on the internet, (3) old articles are deleted or archived so might not show up on internet searches for the other drivers. But one can still appreciate that the volume of traffic Hamilton is generating at the moment is immense.

By comparison with other talked-about personalities or occurences over the same date range i.e. 1 Jan 2012 – 26 Sept 2012:

Kristen Stewart, Search Results: 95,700,000

Mars Curiosity, Search Results: 63,400,000

Fernando Alonso, Search Results: 12,300,000

That said, all F1 fans want is confirmation of Hamilton’s new contract or at least, no more unfounded rumours by journalists.

* = Google Internet Search

^ = Google’s Birthday is 27th September hence the new icon in the top left of screen-grab, just to prove it is a very recent search

Italian GP Experience

Guest Blog from a follower (@naijaSolar) who was at the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.

I have been to F1 races before but I had never been to the Italian Grand Prix, despite having friends in and visiting Milan and Monza. So after running out of reasons not to go, I decided to book tickets for the race and combine it visiting my friends. Milan in the lead up to the Italian Grand Prix didnt look very different – apart from the front of the Ferrari Store near Corso Vittorio Emmanuele and the Duomo. This area had been transformed into a mini-race track with several events for passers-by. I am not a “tifoso” but any F1 fan would be crazy not to visit the shop which epitomises Formula 1 passion globally.

To maintain a balanced, unbiased perspective, I also visited the McLaren showroom on Corso Sempione. Unfortunately, it is a showroom – accessible only by appointment – perhaps this was why not a lot of people were aware of its presence.

On my way back from the McLaren Showroom, I walked past a small bookshop on Corso Venezia. Turns out it is an automobile bookshop – one of the oldest in Italy. The owner spoke English and told me about the extensive array of books that he had.

Something caught my eye in the shop: I spotted a large red book with a pair of gloves on it. These, the proprietor explained, were to protect the book from customer smudges and stains. It was an iconic Ferrari book which had to be made to order, the most expensive version (Ferrari Opus Diamante Edition) costing up to a quarter of a million dollars! Sadly I didnt have that kind of change on me.

THURSDAY

On Thursday, I went to the track to collect my pre-booked tickets. As I was staying at a friend’s apartment on the outskirts of Milan, the entire trip to the Autodromo lasted about 2hours and involved the Metro to Sesto, a bus to Monza town centre and then another bus to the Autodromo di Monza. On arrival, it took just 5 minutes to process my ID and furnish me with the tickets. Then I had the rest of the afternoon to look around the track.

I discovered the entrance to the F1 paddock and the crowd gathered outside it implied that it might be a good spot for autograph-hunting. And sure enough, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Kamui Kobayashi walked by – none of whom stopped for autographs. However about half an hour later, a black Mercedes pulled up to the gates and Lewis Hamilton emerged from the car. I almost could not believe it was him! He stopped and signed autographs, flags, shirts, hats and shook hands with some of the people there. Everyone cheered for him and it was good to see him take time to acknowledge the fans’ support.

Lewis arrives at Autodromo di Monza, Italian GP

As part of the 3-day ticket package, fans were allowed onto the pit between 4pm and 6.30pm on Thursday. Unsurprisingly, the first garage most fans flocked to was the Ferrari garage and there were chants of “ALONSO, ALONSO”. There was even a random chant of “Grosjean is sheeeeeet” in a thick Italian accent, no doubt a tifoso still annoyed about the 1st-lap incident that took out Alonso at the Spa Grand Prix.

I saw Vettel and his minders as he went to conduct an interview, also saw Christian Horner, Jenson Button, Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo, Timo Glock and FIA Deputy Race Director, Herbie Blash.

Thursday Night was spent at Vogue’s Fashion Night Out in Milan – a glamour-themed late shopping night in Milan. Parties at Pirelli, Vivienne Westwood, Missoni, Pinko and many other shops along Corso Venezia kept us entertained till the early hours of the morning.

Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, VFNO, Milan

RACE WEEKEND

Parabolica 21D was our home on Friday and Saturday, which provided a good view of the Monza track; with the big screen directly in front of us and bilingual commentary, we didn’t miss much of the session. The only thing that I wasnt prepared for was the unbearable heat!

Something else I was looking forward to was Santander‘s regular competition on race weekends: an initiative to get more females interested in Formula 1, by selecting the first 5 people to tweet them within a certain period. I was lucky enough to have been on Twitter when the “competition opened” and promptly sent a tweet for a chance at this money-cant-buy experience. I was elated to receive a message saying I had been selected for the Paddock tour, all I had to do was been at the paddock entrance at 9am on race day.

PADDOCK TOUR

I arrived an hour early on Sunday and myself and other competition winners met the Santander representative who gave us guest passes for the paddock and escorted us through the turnstiles leading into the Monza paddock. We met Ferrari’s sponsorship manager, Marco who had been enrolled as our guide for the day. He showed us the Ferrari technical motorhome and their hospitality area.

Later on, we went into the McLaren motorhome and spoke briefly with Sam Inskip (Sponsorship Manager at McLaren), after which we were introduced to a senior director of Santander. Finally we had a quick look inside HRT’s motorhome and as we exited the paddock, politely interrupted Pirelli’s Paul Hembery‘s conversation for a photograph.

It was such a great opportunity and I cannot thank Santander enough for making my first trip to Monza an unforgettable experience. This was made even better by the phenomenal drive and win by Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez. The fans at Parabolica cheered for most drivers – even when Button’s car ground to a halt right in front of our stands. However, the same cannot be said of the fans who crowded under the podium after the race and booed Lewis Hamilton. This was the only negative on a glorious race weekend.

If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing – well, perhaps I’d get covered grandstand tickets or better yet, not return the Santander Guest passes!

Special thanks to @SantanderGP, @PaulHembery, @InsideFerrari and @theFifthDriver. More photos can be found on my Twitter profile @naijaSolar.

Spa GP Experience

One of my followers on Twitter – Steve Mason’s recent birthday present was a trip to the Spa Grand Prix and he agreed to share his experience with fellow F1 fans. Here is a blog about his trip.

(c) @duskyBlogF1

TRAVEL

Was this your first GP or first trip to Spa?

This was my first trip to Spa but I have been to Silverstone many times including this year & also Monza in 2010. My other-half @MissGemmaClare booked [the trip] as a surprise, however, budget was not just about GP;  it included a mini break too. We based ourselves in Brussels for 4 nights at The Atlanta, a great hotel.

We booked in April so the GP tickets could have been cheaper. Whole thing, excluding airport transfers, were organised by Grandstand Motorsports www.grandstandmotorsports.co.uk. Our first time using them, I would definitely use them again.

Getting from track to hotel: Ease and Cost
In terms of ease, this is where I would say basing yourself in Brussels doesn’t work, look for an alternative. This however, is the dichotomy of Spa. 2 hour transfer times meant early starts & late finishes for us, whilst missing some of the support races. However, I’m not a ‘camper’ & there are limited hotels nearby but if you book now maybe there is a chance; La Source Hotel already fully booked for 2013! If you are in a Group renting a house seemed popular with other fans. Parking seemed easy with plenty of sites with fixed prices all weekend at €10 per day.
On another note I don’t know why Silverstone gets such a hard time for traffic, Spa is way way worse, Bernie needs to have a word 😉
How was the weather?
The local temp was nice & warm too on the Thursday, Saturday & Sunday. As for Friday practice that was cold and very wet.  Sunday was a hot day but in the covered grandstand but it was about 5 degrees cooler. We saw a lot of people who’d have done well to have packed some sun tan lotion!
RACE
Did you watch Qualifying and the race? 
Hell yeah! Also went for Friday practice, my £2.99 poncho a massively valuable investment before leaving the UK. Our view from La Source Gold 8 was excellent as you could see a great deal of the track with the added bonus of some of the pit lane & pit exit plus a Giant Screen. (So good was his view, he got this great photo of the first-lap carnage which resulted in Grosjean’s 1-race ban)

Spa Carnage (c) Steve Mason

How was the atmosphere/mood around you?
A real mix of nationalities from English, Dutch, Belgium, French, Italian and American fans. Atmosphere was great, some good banter and very knowledgable crowd.
We were sat opposite the big screen at La Source but also tried Fanvision for the first time – mightily impressed. At the circuit it was €45 per day, online delivered to our house €65 for the entire weekend!  Top tip, I got an earphone splitter so my partner and I could share a set; worked a treat. Having BBC5Live or SkyF1 commentary meant you always knew what was going on throughout the weekend & Will Buxton for GP2/3 races was excellent. FanVision bridges the gap of watching at a circuit & wholly knowing what’s going on. I found it particularly useful for Quali so you knew who was in the drop zone etc
Could you “pour”/get onto the track after the race?
Yes, it was great, access was easy. After a few minutes of fans being on the track, you’d never have known there had been a crash – the crowd devoured and collected carbon fibre souvenirs……spotless!
We went onto the track, listened to the new post race podium interviews (big fan of that) but had to leave to get our coach transfer. We flew from Manchester with Brussels Airways so plenty of options but we had didn’t fly home until Monday tea time, giving us the day Brussels.
VENUE/FACILITIES
Did you encounter any marshalls and were they helpful?
In terms of track marshalls no contact, however, stand stewards were all very helpful. However, English was not widely understood but a bit of schoolboy French was enough to get by.

Marshalls, Fernando, Lewis and Romain (c) Steve Mason

Food/availability and variety?
Brussels is a foodies heaven but at the track the range was very basic with only burgers or sausages plus obviously frites & mayonnaise. Prices remained same all 3 days, burgers €6, frites €5 + €1 for mayo or sauce, coke can €3.50 & Cafe €3.
We picnicked each day & there was no restriction on what you could take in to the track.
No free water but no restrictions on food or drink into the circuit.

Would you recommend this event to others?

The trip to Spa is part of my ambition to visit all the REAL F1 circuits on the Calendar. Would I recommend it, in a word……YES! Truly immense experience, fantastic & I have no doubt at some point soon I will return. Where next is now my only quandary.
Thanks to Steve for giving us an insight to his first trip to Spa. Follow his on Twitter @theSteveMason.

duskyF1Quiz Answers

Which driver won the most races btw 1991 and 2000? Schumacher And which driver was 2nd highest winner between 2001 – 2010? Alonso

If the current Championship was scored with 2008 points i.e. 10 pts for a win, 8 for 2nd place etc, what would be the total of Alonso + Hamilton’s current points? 111

Who is leading the DHL fastest lap table this season? Vettel

Which driver(s) has completed every race of the 2012 season so far? Alonso, Rosberg, Raikkonen (some of you answered Webber but he is short by 1 lap!)

How many points did Toro Rosso have before the summer break in 2011 – and how many do they have now? 22 in 2011, 6 this year.

If the WCC order at the end of 2012 is MCL, RBR, LOT, SAUB, MERC, FIND, WILL, TROSSO and there are no driver-changes; what car number would Daniel Ricciardo & Jean-Eric Vergne have in 2013? 16 and 17. Number 13 is not used

Photo round:
Helmets 1 – 5: Webber, Massa, Riccardo, Petrov, Vergne
Logo 1 – 5: Minardi, Benetton, Brabham, Super Aguri, Williams

Welcome back, Formula 1

Similarly to last F1 off-season, I’ve collated tid-bits and news items from the F1 world during the break – one for every day since those cars were packed up in Brazil to when their new reincarnations roar to live in Australia on Friday (110 days). So to refresh your memory…

Cars

  1. Caterham (previously known as Team Lotus) launched their car in an innovative way by publishing a photo in F1 Racing magazine. It has a stepped down nose (nicknamed “platypus”) as their interpretation of lower nose-rule change
  2. McLaren launch the MP4-27 on 1st February online, and it has a smooth nose
  3. Ferrari’s launch (F2012) is on 3rd February. Heavy snow fall scuppered plans to drive around Maranello
  4. Force India also unveil the VJM05 on 3rd February
  5. Lotus F1 team revealed the E20 online on Sunday 5th Feb – same step-down nose as all others (apart from McLaren)
  6. Sauber release their C31 new car on Monday 6th February
  7. RedBull also launched the RB8 on Monday 6th February
  8. …. and so does Toro Rosso
  9. Tuesday 7th was Williams’ launch date
  10. Mercedes reveal another stepped nose car at the second test in Barcelona
  11. HRT is reported to have passed the FIA Crash test in the final week of February 2012
  12. Marussia failed the last of 18 tests and means it will not participate in the final test in Barcelona – therefore goes to AustralianGP untested…..
  13. …..They eventually passed on March 6th 2012
  14. Marussia unveil their car at Silverstone on Monday 5th March and its nose is similar to McLaren – with whom they have a technical partnership
  15. HRT have a filming day at Montmelo on Monday 5th March
  16. Pirelli’s test car is the 2010 Renault

 Team-Mates

  1. McLaren retains its driver line up of Lewis Hamilton (UK)  and Jenson Button (UK)
  2. RedBull also keeps their 2010 line up i.e. Mark Webber (Australia) and Sebastian Vettel (Germany)
  3. Michael Schmacher has another go to show that his comeback is not a mistake with Mercedes GP 2010 team mate Nico Rosberg
  4. Force India kick Adrian Sutil (Germany) out and replace him with German reserve driver, Nico Hulkenberg  whilst retaining Paul Di Resta (UK)
  5. Williams keep Pastor Maldonaldo (Venezuelan) and his partner is Bruno Senna (Brazil)
  6. Toro Rosso go for a completely new line-up with a promotion for last year’s reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) and Jean-Eric Vergne (France)
  7. Lotus follow in Toro Rosso’s steps and announce all new line up….well, almost all new – both drivers are “second-chancers” Kimi Raikkonen (Finnish) after a 2-year-hiatus and Romain Grosjean (France) after his first stint in F1 in 2009.
  8. Sauber keep Kobayashi (Japan) and Sergio Pérez (Mexico)
  9. Marussia Virgin keeps Timo Glock (Germany), loses Jerome D’Ambrosio (Belgium) and newbie Charles Pic (French) joins the team
  10. HRT sign ex-McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) and he is partnered by Narain Karthikeyan (India)- last driver to be announced, and it came after news of Sutil’s conviction.
  11. Lotus retain ‘veteran’ Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) and Jarno Trulli (Italy) until Feb 17th (see #43)
  12. Ferrari return with Felipe Massa (Brazil) and Fernando Alonso (Spain)

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Season Finale and Review

Bloggers, Reporters and Journalists didn’t need much encouragement to use puns such as “close shave” or “smooth run” during the seaon-finale in Brazil despite the event being the anti-climax it was destined to be after the WDC and WCC were decided several races ago.
Vettel started on pole after breaking Nigel Mansell’s record of most poles in a season on the penultimate session of the season. Though many were quick to point out that he was still trailing Mansell’s record in terms of % poles per races. Hamilton qualified 4th and was beside his team-mate on the grid.
Brazil GP (photo via @F1PaddockPass)
Button lost ground at the start of the race on Sunday, and was soon overtaken by Alonso. He then struggled to keep up with the Ferrari. Vettel was told he had a gearbox problem and had to “short-shift” for the rest of the race. He continued to drive as normal, pulling out a gap on other drivers until he slowed down enough for his team-mate Webber to overtake him.
Conspiracy theorists then inferred that his gearbox problem was “manufactured” to hand his team-mate the win. Several other drivers suffered gear-box problems; Hamilton had to retire mid way through the race, after a  season he will be in a hurry to forget.

Japanese GP: Race Summary (Vettel wins 2nd WDC)

Fireworks and Champagne greets Vettel in Japan, as he became the youngest ever Double World Champion. He finished in 3rd position behind Button and Alonso, scoring 14 points more than what he required to secure the title.
In 2010, Vettel took Hamilton’s title of being youngest ever WDC and this year, Alonso’s youngest double WDC record has been broken by almost a year (Vettel is 24 years and 98 days today).
Record-Breaker
Vettel already holds the record for being the youngest polesitter at 21 years, 72 days old when he qualified in first place for the 2008 Italian Grand Prix and for being the youngest WDC runners-up. According to German publication Bild, Vettel will receive a £5million pound bonus for winning his 2nd title.

As the lights went out, Vettel moved right to cover Button’s brilliant start and pushed the McLaren driver onto the grass. This gave Hamilton some room to to move up close to Vettel and he held 2nd position until a slow puncture forced him to pit for new tyres. Button later regained 1st place during the pit stop phase.

Massa and Hamilton had a coming together which resulted in parts of the Brazilian’s Ferrari to break off but the stewards decided not to investigate the incident further. Clearing up this debris resulted in a Safety car deployment and Button managed the snake of cars behind him skillfully.

There was only one retirement of the race; Sebastian Buemi’s tyres were not fitted properly and he had to retire. Rosberg who started from 23rd and had his full tyre allocation at his disposal, drove well to finish 10th.

Top 10 drivers were: BUT, ALO, VET, WEB, HAM, MSC, MAS, PER, PET, ROS.

Singapore GP: Race Summary

First the ‘vanilla’ news: Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix and needs just 1 more point to clinch his second World Drivers’ Championship. Button came second and Webber finished in third place. There was only 1 Safety car deployment after an ambitious (read: unnecessary) overtake attempt by Schumacher on Perez.

Vettel tires of finger-pointing (photo from usatoday.com)
Now for the ‘tastier’ stuff: Lewis Hamilton clipped his front wing on Felipe Massa’s wheel while justling for position and both required a visit to the pits for repairs. This incident resulted in a drive-through penalty for Hamilton. The Brit eventually visited the pit-lanes 5 times during the race and made several overtakes to finish 5th. Massa on the other hand, finished in 9th place and made his feelings about the Hamilton incident clear for all to see by interrupting Hamilton’s interview saying “Good job, man, well done” with a sarcastic thumbs-up.
 
Video by SixtyBuckss
Other notable drives were by Paul Di Resta (6th position), whose rookie year continues to impress everyone in the paddock and Heikki Kovalainen (Team Lotus) who finished ahead of a Lotus-Renault. Sweet revenge against the team his is currently embroiled in a legal battle with.
More ‘tastier’ stuff, albeit strange was Anthony Hamilton’s comments about his son’s management (XIX Entertainment) and their non-appearance at his races. It is understood that he said: 
“You look up and down the pit lane and every driver, except for Lewis, has a driver-manager in his life, not people from a company”. “I am sure his management are very good – I don’t know – but Formula One drivers need people personally involved in the driver’s lives because it is a big pressure” – Interview by Tom Cary

Vettel may have won the race at Singapore but another driver is dominating newspaper’s columns. 

For more photos and a fan’s experience of the Singapore Grand Prix, check out @nicolaheartsF1’s blog and Please continue to vote in my poll on the right-hand tool bar.

German GP: Race Summary

Rain was expected on Sunday as the cars lined up at the start of the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. However it was dry as the red lights went out, and what a start it was.
German GP paddock before race. Photo by @VoxVocis
Hamilton had a fantastic start and quickly made his way ahead of the field. Webber appeared to have his hands full defending first place from Hamilton and preventing his team-mate from overtaking him: he prioritised keeping the other Red Bull car behind him. At one point, Vettel was in a Ferrari sandwich however Ferrari's Alonso managed to stay in front and they settled into this order: HAM, WEB, ALO, VET, ROS, MAS by the end of the first lap.
Alonso, Hamilton and Webber traded first place several times, but the McLaren driver was ahead for most of the race.Great pit-stops, bold non-DRS overtaking moves and a perfectly-timed strategy call to change to prime tyres, meant that Hamilton finished the race ahead of Alonso and Webber. His second win this season and his 16th career win.
2nd Win for Hamilton

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