Hockenheimring 2014

I don’t expect too much too often, and it clearly applies for Formula 1. I also tend to understate a bit, but it was a mind blowing weekend, despite the fact that Germans turned out to be fairly lame in organizing events.

Since I study in Mannheim, a city about 15 miles to the north from Hockenheim, going to the German Grand Prix was a no brainer, especially after my friends decided to join. We spent ages choosing the seats and at the end decided to get the North Grandstand B, which at the level of the apex of the first corner, it was a great place to watch the start, but Mercedes grandstand and the South seem to be better in general, but obviously more expensive. At the end we paid 250 Euros for the weekend tickets. 

Apparently sales at Hockenheim were really bad, there were only about 50.000 people, and the promoters made all sorts of discounts (e.g. 11 Euro per goal the German National Team scores in the latest match. Remember the demolition of Brazil?), which was extremely annoying since we’ve bought our tickets in October.

On Thursday we went to Hockenheim for the Pit Walk. It is generally one of my favourite parts of the weekend. I love seeing the teams work, seeing the cars close up, and generally the feeling of being a little bit closer to the backstage. Firstly, people were let to the grandstand. We have spent about an hour watching people painting the lines, Kevin Magnussen doing an interview, Nico Rosberg doing the interview for Spanish broadcasters. Nico Rosberg makes you want to address him with “Your Royal Highness”, I actually recognized him by the way he walks: chin up, thinking about every move, making sure the hair is okay. He had a football and did a couple of tricks for the camera, we cheered. There were a couple of GP2 teams doing the track walk, someone ran the track, Max Chilton, for example. The crowd cheered, and was becoming increasingly bored, since it was time. Sebastian came to take pictures with the cheerleaders, at some point Britta asked him to wave, which he did. The cheering was really loud. 

In general I have to say I am actually surprised by the Germans, I expected them to cheer for Rosberg al lot more, but Sebastian is the people’s favourite, and even the Mercedes fans aren’t all about Nico, so many support Lewis. Sebastian said in an interview that he’s happy that the driver the crowd was cheering for won, well it’s not really true, the crowd was cheering for him. And in general the level of respect from the audience was fairly decent.

The entry from the grandstand to the Pit Lane was very badly organized, instead of letting people it sector by sector they ended up forming a huge crowd on the steps. It was potentially very dangerous, and unsurprisingly, bad organization encourages all sorts of anti-social behaviour.

All the disappointment with bad organization vanished when we landed next to the RedBull garage. Dom was fiddling with something on the pit wall. We asked him to pass on a note we wrote to the team. We did this last year, just thanking the guys for the hard work and for putting the racing together and we decided to repeat it. We ended up watching Dom give the note to Stuart and Stuart run around the garage looking for sticky tape and put the note on the wall in the garage. He came to chat for a bit, thanked for the support and signed my friend’s flag. I would say it made up for lame organization. 
On Friday was the moment of truth. We heard the new engine sound for the first time. And I have to say it was a shock. After watching a WEC race in Spa I started to hope that the new sound is not that bad. LMP1 cars aren’t madly loud, but the sound is amazing, unlike the GTE Ferraris which are loud and terribly annoying. I hopped that not loud didn’t mean bad. Well it means exactly that in F1. Apart from resembling a vacuum cleaner or a hair drier, the sound is so quiet that you can see the cars before you can hear them. The sound was disappointing. Only after a while when you listen to the engines for a long time and lose a reference point, it sounds okay, not a bit impressive, but okay. 

On Friday one could go to any grandstand apart from the cool ones, so we ended up watching the second free practice from the Mercedes grandstand. And I have to say that it is probably one of the best places to watch the race. You can see a big part of the circuit, and some slow corners, except that you can’t hear the cars on the back straight. And I couldn’t help but feel that from there the cars look like toys. 

The best thing about Mercedes grandstand was the live band they had there. We joked that it was Lewis who chose the band, which is probably not the case, because they were singing Adam Lambert a lot better than Adam Lambert, and Lewis would have chosen hip-hop. 

They also did an interview it Bernd Maylander, which was not really informative, but still nice, and he obviously spoke German, which didn’t help my friends too much.

Another part of the entertainment at the Mercedes area was changing wheels on a DTM car, which was pretty cool, the sound of the wheel gun is nice, wheels are heavy, and it’s a hell of a team work: one screws up, everything is lost (by the way, I wasn’t the one who screwed up).

We watched the GP2 Qualifying with the thought “F1, GP2 sounds better than you, confirm you understand the message”. Slightly disappointed with Mitch’s qualifying we headed back home. 

On Saturday we lived through the frustration of hearing the cars once again, and went to take a look at the GP2 autograph session to try to understand how the F1 autograph session was organized. We were dreading the moment after the disaster of Thursday. We were underestimating the extent to which the organizers could fail. 

Luckily Maria doesn’t watch qualifying sessions, so she stayed in the queue which was starting to form an hour before the qualifying and 3 hours before the scheduled autograph session. We went to the grand stands. 

When Lewis ended up in the was I almost had tears on my eyes, because I wanted him to have a good chance to win so badly, since I like him so much more than Rosberg. On the other hand I knew that he was going to race, really race, not just start from pole and drive away, what essentially Rosberg did. 

After the qualifying we headed to my friend in the queue, missing the GP2 race, which Mitch has won from 15th on the grid. The queue was already about 100-150 meters long, so we felt very thankful to our friend. The only problem was the queue wasn’t really working, because there were people coming from all the sides, and not exactly someone who was joining their friends. By the time the autograph session was about to start there was just a crowd. 

From Hungary last year I had a photo with Newey, Horner and Vettel, signed by Newey and Horner, and I really wanted Sebastian’s autograph on it. A friend of mine was closer, so I gave an envelope to her. Back then Sebastian was the only one on stage (with the adorable Britta at his side), Ksenia got me the autograph while I was squeezed somewhere in the crowd. Trying to get out was not an option, especially when Daniel came to the stage. I don’t remember what Sebastian was saying in his interview, but Daniel was adorable, when he was the Aussies somewhere in the crowd he started to sing the national anthem, he smiled brighter than the sun, se said he liked German beer and after a while ended up with some, which he obviously didn’t drink. When it was my turn he was sat next to Sebastian.

Since Ksenia has managed to pass me back the rest of the pictures, I asked Sebastian for another autograph, wishedhim a lots of luck. He is adorable, but very tired, hiding his eyes behind sunglasses, he was clean shaven and it makes him look so much younger, he seemed somehow vulnerable but with such a positive energy around him. After the official on stage autograph session he spent about 45 minutes signing autographs for people standing next to the railing. 

Daniel is all smiles, and it was very kind of him to sign pictures for me and Ksenia, even with the pen I gave him. And when I was standing next to him and the crowd started to sing something, he asked Sebastian “What’s the chanting, Seb” in a tone which you would use talking to a good mate. 

For the autographs I have chosen Vladimir Rys’ photos, they are beautiful, and when I posted the pictures on twitter, he replied saying he’s seen them at the autograph session. Such a shame I wasn’t thinking he would be there, otherwise I would love to thank him in person, his pictures are stunning, they are soaked in emotions. 

Afterwards I was just hoping that Maria will get her Rosberg autograph. I had one picture of Nico and since I didn’t know when the Mercedes drivers were coming, I parked in the proximity of the railing to try to get her his signature, in case she wouldn’t make it. I ended up with Kvyat’s and Grosjean’s autographs on my ticket. 

I got Rosberg’s autograph for Maria, congratulated Nico on his marriage. He is perfect, as if made of plastic, or just stored safely in air conditioned room while everyone around has been waiting for hours in +30°C. 

Deep inside I was hoping to get Lewis’ autograph as well, and I got it. Lewis was the one who impressed me the most, he has incredibly positive, very kind energy around him, with that small smile hiding the frustration of the day, with a drop of sweat running down his temple. I couldn’t help but tell this “you age going to fight back” he smiled a little wider and a little sadder and replied “I hope so”. Well, he did fight back. 

Physically and emotionally drained we gathered up at the Biergarten. Apparently due to the brilliant organization (and experience in Moscow tube in rush hour) Maria managed to get 11 autographs. 

On Sunday I managed to persuade Ksenia to join me for the GP2. When we went through the F1 Village we could take a close look at the cars which the drivers used for the drivers’ parade. Sebastian had the coolest one.

The GP2 race was amazing, probably less spectacular than the one on Saturday, but it still had a lot of fighting and obviously a strategy element with the rain. We hoped it would rain for the F1. Not the undrivable kind of rain, but something to spice up the inevitable cruising of Rosberg.

At the drivers’ parade the Germans were rushed through to do the interviews in the last corner, while the rest were going fairly slowly. We waived Dan with the Aussie flag we had, and after his driver drew his attention he gave us thumbs up. Lewis pointed at every single Britishflag, waving and giving people thumbs up. 

While Martin Brundle and David Coulthard were molesting drivers on the grid, the north grandstand was busy doing the wave. Unfortunately it died out somewhere towards the south where the VIPs were sat and it never reached the end of the south grandstand, which caused a lot of booing from our side of the circuit.

The only thing that the organizers didn’t screw up was the choreography for the national anthem. The north grandstand looked stunning, with the German flag. Last time I felt something similar was at Anfield road, when the stadium was singing You’ll never walk alone. It was amazing. But making the flag during the warm up lap was rather suboptimal. 

The closer to the start the more nervous I was getting. I am generally very nervous at the start of the race, but live and in the first corner is a completely different level.

We all know what happened at the start, and I will probably never forget these dreadful seconds when Felipe wasn’t moving. Seeing it with your own eyes gives a different perspective, it rips your heart apart and the harder you cheer when the marshal gives the thumbs up and when Felipe gets out of the car on his own and you understand that he is fine. 

I was happy to see Sebastian have a good start, especially considering what happened between Massa and Magnussen and obviously very disappointed that Ricciardo got caught in it. It could be worse though. 

I can’t write about the race, because everyone has seen it, but I have to say that it was one of the most impressive races I have seen. Vettel vs. Alonso vs. Raikkonen, Alonso vs. Ricciardo, and Lewis, Lewis, Lewis. I knew he would fight back, and he made a hell of a show. 

After the chequered flag we ran towards the podium like crazy I have probably never ran a 300 meters stint that fast, it was so much fun, and seeing the podium so close was amazing. Lewis looked not really happy though, and he went on spraying the models, which is rarely a good sign. 

We went towards the last corner, to gather some rubber, and at some point were asked to go back, we went to the first corner, then along the DRS zone to the second corner, somewhere in the middle of Parabolika I packed out my phone and switched on We are the Champions, the song I associate mostly with Sebastian. We took a couple of pictures in the Hairpin, enjoyed the wind on the back straight, unfortunately we weren’t allowed to the Sachs-corner, but it still was a surreal feeling, walking the track than just an hour ago was a arena of such a spectacle. 

When we were back there were trucks already parked in the main straight and the teams were packing up the equipment.

This weekend left me with an incredible sense of gratitude to all the people who made it happen: teams, drivers and all the amazing people I could share this weekend with.

Pie in the sky or baking at its finest

Look, I know, I have forgotten about the blog for a while. And I am pretty rubbish at writing regurlary. But I have come across a topic which I can actually say something about.

The lawsuit between Constantin Medien and Bernie and Co in London is a pretty interesting thing to observe. Some people say some things that are pretty fascinating. One of such things that ended up in the press is Donald Mackenzie’s statement regarding the valuation of the business.

DM: No, they, I think they put it in because, well, the client asked them to and because they could make the numbers work. They made all sorts of ridiculous assumptions in that document. That the Concorde Agreement would stay in place for ever. That earnings would go up endlessly for ever. And the risk of the whole business was as low as you could imagine. So they got it wrong. I think they had something like 70% of the value, the value that they put in that document, relating to the Concorde period after 2012. And we hadn’t even signed Concorde from 2008 to 2012. So it was a very pie in the sky valuation, in my opinion.

Pitpass

The assumptions sound rather bold, but the thing is that this is industry standard. What E&Y did was a simple Discounted Cash Flows Valuation, which requires all sorts of ridiculous assumptions. To value a company you need two sorts of things: cash flow forecasts into infinity and a discount rate.

Usually 3 stage model is used:

  • 1st stage is a detailed forecast of the firm’s cash flows for the next 5 years. You analyse your strategic position, the value drivers, you forecast revenues and costs making most of the assumptions based on the analysis of your previous periods and the management’s plans
  • 3rd stage is so-called perpetuity stage, where you assume that your revenues will continue into infinity. The  logic behind this is that you expect the firm to be there forever, but making forecast for the next 5 years is hard enough, to forecast anything that happens in 100 years is pretty much impossible. What you need for this stage is the perpetual growth rate, which we’ll discuss later.
  • 2nd  stage – which E&Y probably have just left out – is the normalization phase. This is the period in which the yearly growth rate of revenues converges towards the perpetual growth rate from the 3rd stage. Usually it is assumed that the growth rate decreases linearly, but usually the functional form of the transition is not that important.

At the first sight an assumption about perpetual revenues growth is ridiculous, but actually it’s more than logical. The cash flow forecasts are made in nominal terms, they don’t take into account an inflation rate. This means that if you want to assume constant revenues in real terms you still need your nominal cash flows to grow. The industry standard is to take the GDP growth rate in the country of operations and add the inflation on top. In this case you assume that the cost increases induced by inflation can be charged from the customers. Oh and there is a mathematical shortcut to calculate the Present Value of a perpetuity. The thing is called Gordon Growth Model and looks like this: FCF / (r-g) where FCF is free cash flow of the first period, r – cost of capital and g – growth rate. Doesn’t look like rocket science.

One could argue, that there is no guarantee that F1 is worth anything without the Concorde Agreement, and one should only take into account the cash flows for the years for which the agreement is in place. The problem is that the company has all the possibilities and plans to extend the contract, and this possibility has to be paid for. To assume that the new agreement will be signed is very logical.

This is the first part. Now the question is how risky the whole thing is, how much the investors want to be paid for the risk and for time value of money.

The industry standard to calculate the cost of capital is the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), which is composed of the following components:

  • the risk free interest rate
  • the so-called beta (the measure of the company’s systematic risk)
  • and the Market Risk Premium calculated as the difference between the return on the market and the risk free rate

The model is based on a bunch of assumptions that don’t really hold, for once for CAPM to work you need the interest rate at which you can borrow money be equal to the rate at which you can lend money – which is kinda not true. Another assumption is that capital markets are efficient, that all the information is reflected in the stock prices and there are no information asymmetries between the management and the investors. Further the model is based on the assumption that there are no transaction costs and no taxes. This is what I call a pie in the sky. The problem is that the alternatives are not really applied in the industry, and they have other sorts of assumptions, which are not really any better.

The risk free rate is the easy bit. You usually take the the yield curve of the government bonds of the countries with high credit rating. The yield curve gives you the interest rate of the bond with different maturities. Then you  have a choice: either you discount each cash flow at the corresponding interest rate, or you use the interest rate of about 9 year bond for all cash flows (which maturity you choose depends on the growth rate you’ve assumed before). The difference is minimal and the latter approach is more popular for complexity reduction reasons.

Beta is a complicated thing. As I said above it measures the systematic risk of the company. Systematic risk is everything you can’t diversify like general state of the economy. If the risk is diversifiable that’s what a rational investor would do, so the company doesn’t have to pay for it. The companies that produce luxury goods are more reactive to the market conditions and have higher than 1 betas, the companies that produce essential stuff usually have lower than 1 betas.

For traded companies beta is calculated using a linear regression of stock returns on the market returns for the past 5 years. The market in the model is assumed to be a perfectly diversified portfolio of all investment opportunities. Such thing simply doesn’t exist, that’s why people usually take a big national index. There is a bunch of problems: is the 5 year period representative for the future eternity? is the market and your stock liquid enough to provide a reliable estimate? which index do you take: DAX, Eurostoxx, MSCI World? do you take monthly data or weekly?

But what if your company isn’t listed? You can use the beta of comparable companies, the firms from the same industry, which have the same risk profile. But F1 doesn’t really have comparable companies, let alone listed comparable companies. You know that the beta for the entertainment industry is about 1.31 (calculated as a weighted average of the regression betas in the entertainment industry), but it doesn’t mean that F1 has the same risk as the entertainment industry. It would be logical to assume beta higher than 1, yes, but how much higher?

The market risk premium is another ingredient of the pie. It is the difference between the risk free return and the market return. The problem is that you don’t know what the market return is going to be in the future. So you usually take the historical data, calculate average and assume it’s going to stay the same. Nice assumption. The question is how far back in time you go: 20, 30, 70, 150 years? do you include crisis years? do you take geometric or arithmetic average? The latter choice gives you a difference of approximately 4% (based on German data, I’m sure UK or US aren’t that different).

You put all the things together and get the cost of capital = risk free rate + beta * market risk premium. And this is the number you use into infinity. Needless to say that it’s fairly easy to make the numbers work by just varying the components of the CAPM.

Did E&Y do something wrong? Methodically probably no. But the methods aren’t really robust, so that any value you get can be questioned, which both sides are now trying to do.

BelieveInMcLaren or Can we get some racing, please?

McLaren’s 2013 season consists of problems, and everyone who can make use of their common sense understands that points seem to be the highest target McLaren can aim at in any race. It is sad, but true, and to be entirely honest I was pleased to hear that the team is switching focus to the 2014 car. So 2013 season can be written off and forgotten like a bad dream, but I believe McLaren can still do something to enhance their image as a racing team.

I am not an expert, if I were I wouldn’t spend my spare time writing a blog, but I don’t get why McLaren are so unprepared to risk, where they pretty much have nothing to lose. There are several sources of cash in Formula One, and while McLaren don’t have a chance to score any good points in WCC this year, they probably should try to get some sponsorship money. Sponsors want exposure, they want the car with their logos to be on screen for as long as possible, in a current situation it seems achievable – just go racing. The beauty of overtaking maneuver is not measured by what place the drivers are battling for, so why not adopt a strategy with more pit stops in order to let the drivers go racing on track? Fans would be happy to see some action, sponsors would be happy to sponsor a racing team, not the tyre conservation team, and the sport in general would get a bit more spectacular.

McLaren seem to be sticking with conservative approach in a situation where they have nothing to lose. I seriously doubt that these potential couple of points are worth more to the team than half a minute on TV screen.  I really hope that McLaren will stop being too smart and just go racing.

God save our tyres, god save our sport

I was emotionally drained after the race. I believe that with winning “if” is not the only thing that matters, “how” and “why” matter a lot more for me. There is always this element of destiny to racing, but yesterday was extreme – with tyres exploding on Lewis’ car, with Sebastian’s gear box failure.  As unfortunate as it got for Lewis, he pretty much made the show – his battle with Paul Di Resta  was something we all love in Formula One, it was racing. Alonso was impressive, as was Massa. Webber did a great job of coming back through the field – yes he, unsurprisingly, had a terrible start, but the recovery was impressive with some racing on his way to second. At the end of a Grand Prix full of racing and fighting you want a winner who participated in what you loved about the Grand Prix. Pity we didn’t get that. In no way I am saying Rosberg didn’t deserve the win, you have to be there to benefit from misfortunes of the others, but I can’t help thinking that the scriptwriter ruined what could be a great plot. My love to Formula One is fueled by emotions apart from those whose victories make me happy there are drivers whose success makes me feel angry, there are those whose success impresses me and makes me feel jealous. As much as I don’t want Alonso or even Vettel to win, I still feel something. There’s nothing with Nico Rosberg. Yesterday I had a feeling that it was a shadow occupying the top spot of the podium. I missed a strong controversial personality on the top of the podium. Rationally, I know that one should be impressed with Rosberg: he outscored Michael Schumacher, he is doing a great job with Lewis Hamilton as his team mate. But I am not. Nico Rosberg doesn’t trigger any emotions for me. In terms of the plot, a win for Webber would obviously make for a Hollywood-style turn.

Mark Webber’s announcement that he’s leaving Formula One doesn’t come as a surprise. We all knew it was going to happen, and I believe that timing is right for him now to switch to endurance racing with a new team he can help to build. Porsche starts an interesting project, and it will be amusing to follow. I also believe that it is good for Mark to get out of Formula One. He’s been through a lot in the sport over his years in Formula One, he has driven bad cars and good cars, he has won races, he’s been through a lot of regulations changes, and now with the sport becoming something which is not fun anymore, it’s better to leave than to lose passion. The fact that the decision was made before Christmas and not forced by Malaysian controversy just makes it better. Webber has had a solid career in Formula One, he is one of the well respected drivers on the grid, but most importantly he’s an amazing sports personality – honest and straightforward. He will be missed. And his departure is actually alarming. When the likes of Webber and Button leave, who is the sport left with? Chiltons and Maldonados?

World Series by Renault or a hell of a good surprise

WSRBetween 21st and 23rd of June World Series by Renault was visiting Moscow Raceway. An event that no motorsport fan would miss, and I was lucky enough to be able to attend at least on Sunday. Such stars of modern Formula One as Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso drove in WSR, and the series in general is considered to be a pretty good preparation for the Formula One. From time to time rumours appear that Helmut Marco’s protégée Da Costa is about to get a seat in Toro Rosso, McLaren Young Drivers Magnussen and Vandroon drive in 3.5 litre category, as well as the Tooned star Nyck de Vries and another McLaren’s boy with a very McLaren surname Dennis dive in 2.0 litre series. For those were pretty much the only names I knew, the choice who to support was rather straightforward, namely #BelieveInMcLaren.

We arrived at quarter past nine, which was a rather good timing, and from the very first moment I was impressed with organisation. We were guided to the parking lots by extremely friendly people, amazingly beautiful young ladies handed us a bunch of flyers and then we happily went to the grandstands to watch the qualifying.

Apart from the sound of the engines, the speed of the cars, the smell and all those tiny things that you can’t feel watching the race on TV I was impressed by the atmosphere. WSR is well suited for a quality time with a family, as well as for a good company of friends. (Me and my dad dragged our mom with us, and she didn’t even complain!). There is a lot to do apart from watching races, children are taken care of. The only thing that leaves much to be desired is food and drinks, you don’t really have too many healthy options, but you can always take something with you.

Another thing that impressed me a lot was the feeling of accessibility. You could run around the paddock, take a look at every 2.0 litre car, with good timing you could enjoy the curves of the RB7, the lady which killed the intrigue in 2011, you could get an autograph of every driver, and even with a bit of luck of David Coulthard, who drove the Red Bull as part of the show.

The sound of an F1 car on a straight is literally breathtaking, and when you see David Coulthard burning rubber in a couple of meters from where you stand it is pretty amazing. I also found it somehow adorable how Karen, his fiancée, waited in the middle of the circuit until DC was done with the boring describe-the-circuit-interview  and  they went those 50 meters to the garages holding hands.  Coulthard also took his time to sign autographs, and I have to say that even in this respect the professionalism is incredible: when he signs you an autograph he looks you in the eye. It must be terribly boring, though, to answer the same questions time and time again, and so say some stupid stuff for the cameras. “Privet Strogino” – was obviously the only thing you want DC to say to the Russian media.

The whole weekend was a great experience, some quality time with friends and family, brilliant racing and incredible atmosphere. I can only recommend it to everyone.

Testgate

I doubt there has ever been time when Formula One was not surrounded by some sort of scandal, it became an integral part of the sport, and we are not just used to it, we desire it. Scandal is always an excuse to have an opinion even for those, who cannot claim to be an expert in the field, like myself.

I find it fascinating how quickly the Mercedes – Pirelli undertaking got to the -gate status, so that expectations to scope of the conflict have risen to a whole new level. We love conflict, we want it to be big, so that we all can moan about how bad it is for the sport. Funny enough, every conflict has a potential to evolve into a vital kick in the ass for the teams to get to agreements in the sports’ interest, or not.

Red Bull’s Christian Horner said the test was “totally unacceptable” because Mercedes, who run their current car with their current drivers, gained an unfair advantage. One can discuss whether there was any advantage, but I believe it’s fair enough to say that if there were none, Mercedes wouldn’t do this test. I believe this particular advantage, that Mercedes gained through this test, is not exactly why other teams are upset, it’s rather the whole idea of in-season testing that buggers competitors.

Martin Whitmarsh, as a FOTA representative, mentioned a couple of times that cost cap is essential for the survival of smaller teams and the sport as a whole, teams even seem to agree with at least the general idea. Whether this idea is implementable is questionable, to be honest, I don’t see the teams agreeing on the level of the cap or related auditing mechanisms any time soon. But ban on in-season testing is one of the agreements that actually go in this direction, and by breaching this agreement Mercedes have questioned the direction in which the sport attempts to go. Funny enough, none of the FOTA teams has officially filed the protest. Horner said the reason for McLaren not to do it is the fact that Mercedes are their engine suppliers. Maybe this is the reason, maybe McLaren have their own problems, or maybe McLaren themselves fancy a chance to do some in-season testing. They can afford it after all. I believe Red Bull and Ferrari, who are not members of FOTA, did not file the protest because Mercedes gained an advantage in this particular case, they did so because they want the same for themselves. Ferrari have been lobbying in-season testing for ages, and now with Mercedes breaching the ban, they could not let such a great opportunity to make their point pass.

The decision, which FIA is faced with, is crucial to determine the direction in which Formula One is about to go. If Mercedes are not punished, or the punishment is not severe enough, this will give a carte blanche for all the other teams to do this so-called tyre testing. And there is no way to control whether it is tyres that they test or anything else, Formula One teams are not too bad with keeping things secret. It is the signal that the decision will make, that matters. After all it’s all politics, and any guess-work what FIA will decide, is at this point in time a mere speculation. One thing is clear, the decision has a potential to kick the sport in one direction or another. I am not sure it’s a proper crossroad, though, it’s rather a choice of a traffic lane.

#BelieveInMcLaren project

Being a fan doesn’t only mean celebrate success, but also not abandon your team in tough times. The team which struggles the most these days is McLaren, and I happen to be a die hard McLaren fan. That’s why me and Karmen decided that we should do something McLaren related, so we tried to make a small twitter flash-mob, in order to get #BelieveInMcLaren trending on twitter, and simply show that we support the team, no matter whether they win or not. I am not sure, whether we were successful in getting it trending, but we definitely had a good time. These flash-mobs is how I get to follow really amazing people on twitter, so it was worth it anyway.

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Monaco’s next top model

Image

I don’t like Monaco, or at least I like to think I don’t. Formula One world which is something completely surreal in general, gets the showing off to the whole new level. Monaco is a masquerade, and every mask is in a way a self portrait, so Formula One playfully admits that racing is not exactly what the sport cares for. Martin Brundle interviewed a lady on the grid – she had no idea where she was, or what was going on. “You have to talk to that guy…” she said when asked, how to get such an access. I bet it was Bernie’s name she couldn’t remember.  It is a pity that the drivers, who are just about to take on a challenge of tight streets of principality, have to entertain people, who don’t really care. But this is the reality of motor racing, it needs the sponsorship money to breathe, and it has its price.  It is the case on every grid, but it is grotesque in Monaco.

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Thoughts on Barcelona or An unavailing search for the greener grass

Formula One is now back to normal. Pirelli are back on top of the list of hot topics, namely. It is tempting to blame tyres for the lack of racing, but it is too easy, don’t you think?

Depending on their position, every team and every driver has complained about the tyres at some point. These complains are encouraged by the media as well as by the fans. At the end of the day it’s always nice to have some higher power to blame for your failure. Voices saying that it’s a job of the teams and the drivers to maximise their performance with what’s given are becoming louder with every single race. I can get the point, it sounds rational, but I still cannot get rid of the feeling that it is wrong.

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Some artwork or Fancy going for a spin?

This is inspired by the old McLaren merchandise, and I in no way claim that the idea is mine. I have published the series earlier before on Tumblr, Back then it was Button, Pérez, Räikkönen, Hamilton, Webber and Vettel. Now I have added Alonso (yes, I am hunting for fame) and Rosberg, and therefore decided to repost the whole thing here, too.

All the graphics are made for private use only, so no profit making whatsoever (If you want to pay me for it we can discuss this). If you want to have someone else’s autograph made into a circuit comment and I will think about it.

Jenson Button Circuit

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