The financial security of Formula One minnows Hispania Racing is once again being called into question tonight following a statement that was released late this evening by the Toyota Motorsport Group.
Toyota, a former Formula One team who left the sport at the end of 2009, were in a deal to sell Hispania their un-raced 2010 prototype Formula One car and offer other technical assistance to the team, who featured no less than 4 drivers over the course of this season.
However the deal is now off as Hispania have not paid the Toyota Motorsport Group any of the installments required. Their financial security has been called into question repeatedly over 2010, but team boss Colin Kolles recently said they were totally safe.
“Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG) confirms that all cooperation with Hispania Racing F1 Team (HRT) has been terminated and will not resume,” said the statement.
“TMG retains all intellectual property rights to its current F1 car and is completely free to pursue other projects and support new customers for its high-performance engineering services.
“TMG regrets that HRT has not met its contractual payment obligations and will pursue all available options to reach a satisfactory conclusion to this matter.”
A UK court of appeal have today reversed a previous decision made by another British court regarding the Force India sponsorship debate, which started back in 2008. The court had previously judged that Etihad Airlines, and Aldar two prominent Abu Dhabi based businesses had breached contracts with the Force India team and were forced to pay them $4.7million in damages.
However, under appeal the decision appears to have been reversed.
Etihad and Aldar began sponsoring the Spyker F1 Team in 2007, however when Vijay Mallya bought the team at the end of the season and renamed it Force India the two companies left one year into their three year deal.
The new appeal have said that Etihad and Aldar had every right to leave the deal, as the team had changed hands and also because of rival sponsors being brought onboard. The judge ruled that Mallya’s own airline, Kingfisher, being a title sponsor alongside Etihad would not have worked out for the Abu Dhabi based airline and therefore they had every right to leave.
Force India have been told to pay costs and may yet be forced to pay damages.
Dietrich Mateschitz has been forced to deny that one of his Formula One teams, Scuderia Toro Rosso is up for sale.
It had been reported online earlier this week that the team, based in Faenza, was up for sale at a paltry €30million. The team was formerly known as Minardi until the end of 2005 when Mateschitz took control of the outfit and rebranded it to fit in with his Red Bull portfolio. Designed as a feeder team to the main Red Bull squad, it had been using repaints of the senior teams cars until this year when the rules on customer cars was finally sorted.
The team are most famous for producing the 2010 title challenger Sebastian Vettel who joined at the end of 2007, winning their first and only Grand Prix at Monza in 2008. He was then promoted to the senior Red Bull Racing team.
“There are constant rumors about it, but now we have no plans to sell Toro Rosso,” Mateschitz’s PA told 422race.com.
Despite the denial of sale there are reported to already be a number of people interested in purchasing the team, should Mateschitz decide to sell. These include Carlos Slim, the Mexican entrepreneur who has always been interested in buying in to the F1 dream. Another interested party is Jacques Villeneuve along with the Duragno group who failed to succeed in becoming the 13th team for 2011. Stefan GP have also been linked with purchasing the team now they have severed all links with the former Toyota outfit.
Formula One’s official governing body have announced a new partner today. Swiss based banking corporation UBS have announced they will be partnering the sport in attempts to increase their global brand awareness.
The multi-million pound deal is a big boost for the sport which had suffered as a result of the global economic crisis with major banks including ING and Credit Suisse distancing themselves from the sport. However with a major bank joining forces with F1, its a sure sign that better times are ahead for us. UBS join Santander in becoming a major force in F1.
UBS themselves are based mainly in Switzerland but have overseas investment and banking units in America and England.
Marketing managers within the firm evaluated various different major sporting events to use for their new brand exposure campaign and eventually found themselves settling on using Formula One as a platform for their increased exposure. Previous the bank have sponsored the Spengler Ice Hockey Cup in Davos, the Hong Kong Open Golf and a team in the Americas Cup yachting race.
Oswald Grubel, UBS Group Chief Executive, said: “UBS has been searching for a global sponsorship platform that has appeal to our clients, promotes our brand globally and makes good commercial sense.
“Our new partnership with one of the largest and most popular sporting organizations in the world will fulfil all these criteria, and it constitutes a key element of our newly launched branding activities. The global reach of F1 complements the many local activities we support.”
Some of the early assets of the failed USF1 team project have been put up for sale on the popular internet auction house Ebay.
The early sale lot is for two team trucks, which were purchased from the 2009 World Championship winning team Brawn GP. The large rigs were bought after the team was bought out by Mercedes Benz.
The US team never used them as their car was never even launched, let alone make it onto the grid for the first round of the Formula One season last month in Bahrain.
“As a keen motorsport fan, it is certainly one of the more interesting seizures we’ve made,” said David Carter, Director of The Sheriffs Office, responsible for enforcing the High Court writ.
“The trailers were recently bought from Brawn GP by the judgment debtor and really are something special. We’ve already has a lot of interest and are now selling them via eBay.”
If you fancy a bid they are available on Ebay ( http://bit.ly/by7W3t ) and at the current time one of the trucks is selling for £16,000. It would be a special gift for a team or competitor to have such a high quality piece of equipment and indeed history.
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has announced that McLaren Autmotive Holdings have purchased back a significant amount of the shares owned by Mercedes Benz in the McLaren F1 Team.
Prior to buying Brawn GP and turning it into a works Mercedes Benz outfit, the German car manufacturer bought up a significant portion of the team during their close partnership between 1997 and 2009, approximately 40% of the team was owned by them at the end of last year.
Ron Dennis, the former team principal owns 15% and is now in charge of their road car division, which launched the eagerly anticipated MP4-12C yesterday, a 200mph supercar designed to compete with the Ferrari 458 Italia and Aston Martin DBS.
Mansour Ojjeh, a Saudi Arabian businessman owns another 15% portion, and Mumtalakat, a Bahrain investor owns 30%.
“I think it is about 11 per cent that is still owned by Mercedes, but it’s not an important or significant number,” Whitmarsh was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Santander’s filming of a new commercial provided Spanish driver Fernando Alonso his first opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Ferrari F1 car, albeit briefly.
Alonso, the two time world champion, has made the switch from Renault to Ferrari for the new year along with Santander who are now one of the Scuderia’s title sponsors, drawing back their involvement with McLaren, who the team began sponsoring when Alonso had his troubled season with the team.
The short burst test, in a 2009 Ferrari F60, showed the Ferrari with its potential 2010 livery. With plenty of Santander branding, it was evident the banking giant had made is presence known with large swathes of logos on the front and rear wings, and around the mirror/barge board area. It is unknown if the team will sport this much Santander branding when their 2010 car is launched at the end of the season or whether it was just for the advert. Marlboro, a long time team sponsor who suffered in the wake of anti-tobacco sponsorship stances in sport and Europe have seen their hash marking branding drawn down to just on the engine cover of the cars.
Renault have confirmed that Luxembourg based investment company Genii capital have invested into the team.
The widely predicted move comes as Renault look to distance themselves a little from Formula One investment following the crash-gate scandal which deeply affected their image during last season.
The manufacturer will retain a portion of the company, and its name and brand will still be used on the cars. However it is widely believed Genii Capital hold a controlling stake within the team which will continue to be based in Enstone, Oxfordshire. Genii are being described by Renault as a strategic partner.
Renault engines will still be supplied to Red Bull Racing, the takeover will not affect their customer engine supply.
Bernard Rey, Renault’s F1 team president, said: “I am delighted to welcome Genii Capital as our new strategic partner as I am sure that their enthusiasm and business expertise will create a new dynamic for the team, the staff, and our partners.
“Altogether, we look forward to competing again at the highest level in Formula 1. Today’s announcement also confirms Renault’s commitment and trust in the sport’s governing bodies to improve the green credentials of Formula 1.
“With the ongoing evolutions of the Formula 1 regulations, Renault will be able to entertain its fans, while promoting a leaner and sounder championship.
“We will show Renault’s skill when it comes to developing high- performance, fuel-efficient cars.”
Eric Lux, CEO of Genii Capital, said: “We are delighted to have been selected as Renault’s strategic partner for the Renault F1 Team. Our long-term vision for this challenging venture aims to return Renault to the forefront of Formula 1.
“Together with Renault, we intend to run the team with the same values as any of our other investments, prioritising ambitious performance targets without neglecting cost efficiency. We strongly believe that on-track performance can be compatible with business performance, and we will use all our entrepreneurial spirit and commercial know-how to achieve this goal.”
The Renault F1 Team are today looking and analysing competing bids from Prodrive and an investment company based in Luxembourg.
The original thoughts following an article in L’Equipe were that the investment company were providing Prodrive with funding to buy the team but it now appears they are rivals.
The investment fund Genii Capital is run by Gerard Lopez, and funding is also coming from Eric Lux according to a large article in Le Parisien today. They are also major investors in the Gravity Motorsport driver programme, and have told Renault they plan to keep the Renault Young Driver Programme going if they take over.
The Gravity management company manage Ho-Pin Tung who tested a Renault earlier this week.
An article in The Times today reckoned Prodrive however were on the verge on signing on the dotted line for the ailing French team, and Bernie Ecclestone claimed to the newspaper that a deal was close.
“We’ve got to get the whole Renault thing sorted out,” he said. “We are in the middle of doing it now. I feel confident that we’ll see Renault next year in Formula 1 under the name Renault and the year after and the year after that.”
There are reports from a French motoring magazine Auto Hebdo that talented and highly rated rookie Kamui Kobayashi could get a race seat with Renault for 2010 making him Robert Kubica’s team mate.
Kobayashi has been left as a refugee without a drive for next season following Toyota’s withdrawl from F1. Following a couple of good showings at the end of the season standing in for injured Timo Glock, it would seem that sponsorship could pave the way into struggling Renault.
That sponsor would be Panasonic, the huge electrical firm who were Toyota’s title sponsor from inception in 2002. The producer of popular products like Televisions and Blu-Ray players want to keep a presence in Formula One. With Renault struggling to find sponsors following crash gate this could all be a match made in heaven.
If Auto Hebdo is to be believed Kobayashi and Panasonic representatives met Renault in a meeting at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Also helping Kobayashi’s plight is most likely rival Timo Glock being announced with Manor Grand Prix.
Frank Williams and Patrick Head have both sold minority shares of their independent F1 team to an Austrian investment group headed up by businessman and amateur race driver Toto Wolff.
Williams denies that he will be leaving the reigns of the team that bears his name, instead focussing on the fact Wolff could bring plenty of sponsorship and good contacts to the team.
The amont sold is unknown and Toto Wolff was not decisive suggesting somewhere between 10 and 49%, we at TheF1Fanatics Blog reckon its closer to 10 than 49, so perhaps about 20%.
“I have no intention of stopping my involvement in this company or of ceasing my Formula 1 activities,” Williams said.
“I cannot stress highly enough that Toto is a minority shareholder. The company is still under my control and I will not relinquish control of the business until I go completely.
“It’s simply that I want to take care of one or two private needs. I’ve never taken a penny out of the business in 40 years and time is getting on a bit.”
The news I broke yesterday on the blog has turned out to be true, the Toyota F1 Team are pulling out of the sport and will not be present on the grid at the first race of the season in 2010.
There had been rumours of a move out of F1, when the company saw its first ever loss in profits. Also signs when Fuji Speedway, their circuit, was dropped from the calendar. Although signing up to the concorde agreement stating they would be present until 2012, no-one really thought it would be true, and the team would be pulling out at the end of 2010 after operating the season with a reduced budget.
Where the team goes from here is unknown, it could turn into a satellite operation, an independent team via management buy out, or even possibly become the new Sauber team.
The long official statement from Toyota’s Chief Executive’s read:
“Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces it plans to withdraw from the FIA Formula 1 world championship at the end of the 2009 season,”
“TMC, which had viewed its participation in F1 as contributing to the prosperity of automotive culture, remained dedicated to competing at the pinnacle of motor sports even in the face of the abrupt economic changes that started last year.
“However, when considering TMC’s motorsports actitives next year and beyond from a comprehensive mid-term viewpoint reflecting the current severe economic realities, TMC decided to withdraw from F1″
“TMC also wants to express its heartfelt gratitude to all Panasonic Toyota Racing drivers to date and to all Toyota Motorsport GmbH employees who have helped make the team’s achievements possible,” said the statement.
“TMC intends to do its best to find a solution for those parties who will be affected by any inconvenience this decision may cause.”
“In motorsports, [Toyota] will not only race in various categories, but will also actively contribute to further development of motorsports by supporting grassroots races and planning events in which it is easy for people to participate.”
Toyota Team Profile
|Debut Race||2002 Australian Grand Prix|
|Final Race||2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix|
|Notable Drivers||Ralf Schumacher, Jarno Trulli, Mika Salo, Olivier Panis, Cristiano Da Matta|
BMW Sauber have announced this morning that they have found a buyer for their Formula One team.
Qadbak International are a Swiss based foundation representing the interests of several wealthy Middle Eastern and European families, and are headed up by a Lionel Fischer.
They have purchased the team outright, and are looking forward to starting their challenge.
“A strong investor has therefore been found for the Hinwil-based team,” BMW said in a statement.
“Qadbak’s interest in the team will be represented by Lionel Fischer, a Swiss national. BMW wishes Qadbak and the Sauber Team every success for the 2010 season and beyond.”
The only issues thus far for Qadbak is that the final grid slot, previously home to the BMW team has been filled with Team Lotus. However, the FIA are now considering adjusting the rules to allow for 28 cars [16 teams], or perhaps they will fill Renault’s place if they are thrown out of the World Championship over the Crash-Gate scandal.
Nevertheless Qadbak, and BMW are sure their team will line up for 2010.
“We are pleased to confirm that the FIA has indicated that we may have a place in the 2010 Formula One World Championship. The team expects to line up on the grid for the first race of the 2010 season.” Said a team statement.
Kimi Raikkonen and the Nokia Phone Company are being touted by the Renault F1 Team as they look for a new driver and title sponsor.
Word from Crash.net suggests that Kimi Raikkonen has already been offered a 45million Euro multi-year contract by the French auto manufacturer based in Enstone, UK. He has a contract with Ferrari for 2010, but it is highly likely Fernando Alonso is to be unveiled as the Scuderia’s new driver for 2010 at the Italian Grand Prix in a week or so time. Raikkonen will be left seatless, if Ferrari stick with Felipe Massa as expected.
Renault are also looking for a title sponsor to replace ING who are pulling out of Formula One altogether at the end of the season. One candidate being lined up is the Nokia telecommunications company, which with Raikkonen could be very interested in a title sponsorship deal. It may lead to the cars returning to a Blue/White/Yellow scheme of colour, after this seasons frankly garish red/yellow/orange scheme.
Nokia previously sponsored the Tyrrell team in the early 1990′s with Finnish driver Mika Salo.
BMW have rejected Peter Sauber’s bid to takeover the Formula One team after the German manufacturer announced it would be leaving the sport at the end of 2009.
BMW have not had the success they desired after purchasing Sauber’s team in 2005. They scroed a few podiums, and one race win but the Munich board wanted a world championship, and with a very slow 2009 machine it looks as impossible as Force India’s title challenge. Thus, given the world eceonomic situation they pulled the plug.
Peter Sauber made an offer to purchase the team back, but he said BMW’s demands were far too high for him to achieve, and that they were being completely unreasonable. He described it as a very disappointing day.
“I have been unable to sign the Concorde Agreement, which guarantees payments worth millions and would have secured the future of the team,” Sauber told Autosport.
“I am incredibly disappointed and disconsolate. For me this is the bitterest day in my 40-year career in motor sport. It is also a devastating setback for the team.
“Other solutions must now be sought. The responsibility for that lies in the hands of BMW. Needless to say, I am willing to help, as before.”
Meanwhile, FOTA have declared their support for BMW in what ever form it may now take. A statement said; “Fota teams have immediately consulted each other and are ready to assure all the necessary support to BMW, whose membership in the association is confirmed, to continue its involvement in the F1 sport.”
BMW have announced that their Formula One team, BMW Sauber will not be competing in F1 beyond the end of the 2009 season.
It is a bitter blow for the German/Swiss team which had seen gains through 2007 and 2008, but have suffered with a poor car in 2009.
The team were formed after BMW, who had supplied engines to Williams from 2000-2005, decided to buy out Peter Sauber’s small but successful Swiss team, Sauber based in Hinwil. They took over, and in 2006 they had an average season with Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve at the wheel. In 2007 they were much more competitive with Robert Kubica partnering Heidfeld. In 2008, Kubica recorded the teams first victory in Canada, a circuit where a season before RK left in a medical helicopter following a horror shunt.
Dr. Norbert Reithofer, chairman of BMW said this morning: “Of course, this was a difficult decision for us. But it’s a resolute step in view of our company’s strategic realignment,” he said.
“Premium will increasingly be defined in terms of sustainability and environmental compatibility. This is an area in which we want to remain in the lead. In line with our Strategy Number ONE, we are continually reviewing all projects and initiatives to check them for future viability and sustainability. Our Formula 1 campaign is thus less a key promoter for us.
“Mario Theissen has been in charge of our motor sports program since 1999. We have scored a large number of successes in this period, including some in Formula 1 racing. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mario Theissen and his team for this.”
There are lots of unknown’s following today’s ruling. The team is likely to be put up for sale, and could be bought by one of the teams who failed to get into F1 such as Lola or Prodrive or perhaps by a new investor looking to buy a going concern. The latter would secure jobs, but if the slot is made available then the jobs will be lost. Epsilon Euskadi has expressed interest in taking the slot of the team if they fold altogether.
Robert Kubica is a very talented and young driver, and although he stated he is keen to try his hand at rallying it is likely a big team will buy him in. Williams could be looking for a Nico Rosberg replacement, McLaren are looking for a replacement for Heikki Kovalainen or perhaps if Massa will not drive in F1 again and Alonso doesn’t have a contract with the Italian’s he could make a shock move to Ferrari. Nick Heidfeld on the other hand is far more uncertain, and at his age he might struggle to get another drive on the back of always promising good things but never really delivering.
Joan Villadelprat, the former F1 chief now head of his own Le Mans team Epsilon Euskadi is considering applying for an F1 entry in 2010.
The former Minardi and Benetton chief says he has the facilities, the determination and more importantly the ability to get £40million together for the budget cap.
“I have the site, the wind tunnel with the appropriate scale, the determination, everything,” Villadelprat claimed yesterday
He joins USF1, iSport, Prodrive (Aston Martin) and many others in considering the entry into F1. The boss of GP2 team racing engineering has admitted he is working on a 2011 entry into F1.
the PKF Insolvency company have revealed that the Honda Motor Company stopped them selling the Super Aguri Formula One Team as a going concern as they looked to re-coup their losses immediately.
Super Aguri was formed in 2006 by Aguri Suzuki, and had a lot of backing from Honda. Despite good results in the 2007 season, during 2008 the Leafield based team went into administration and PKF were called in.
They formed a model which showed the sale, and indeed had someone ready to purchase. Smaller level investors of the team were happy to see the sale go through, but Honda, who were thought to have many millions invested said no.
PKF are now looking to recoup losses of $400,000 in fees, which Honda refuse to pay.
“Any insolvency practitioner will say that (administration) was the only route for Super Aguri as there were buyers for it,” said PKF partner Philip Long.
“Honda didn’t want Super Aguri exposed to the marketplace,” he added. “Smaller unsecured creditors voted for our proposals and fees”
Mercedes Benz’s commitment to Formula One is once again under the spotlight today after a German station Subwestrundfunk discussed the possibility that F1 could be something the group cut in a meeting this week.
The German marques directors are meeting in Stuttgart to discuss the future of the company, which is currently losing around $1billion per month.
Drastic cost saving measures will be discussed, with directors pay and bonuses already the first announced cuts. However, with problems such as Lie-Gate, and now with the engine supply to 3 teams, the company could be looking to cut down on their supply, or even drop out altogether.
“If you’re asking me ‘are we here for the next ten years?’ then everybody who is honest, and I am honest, cannot give you an answer about how the world, the car industry, the economical surroundings will develop,” he is quoted as saying by GP Week.
“I hope it changes. It’s not easy for anybody but I hope it changes.” Haug added
Lie-Gate won’t have helped McLaren’s chances of keeping the engine deal, with Brawn GP standing on the top step of the podium for the first two races of the season, it would be little suprise to see a cut down contract from the company only covering the small Brackley based team.
Lets not forget McLaren have only had Mercedes Benz engines since 1997, it is no guarantee for the team to run the 3 pointed star on the nosecone.
“Victories would be better than having discussions like these,” the German said about Lewis Hamilton and McLaren’s lie to the FIA. “But we are clearly unhappy with the situation, as it is right now.”
Dr Mario Theissen has admitted in an interview with Autosport that BMW Motorsport are fully committed to Formula One for the long term.
When the Honda Motor Company pulled out of F1 at the end of last season, BMW along with Toyota and Renault were alleged to be considering a similar exit leaving F1 with only Ferrari as a big manufacturer.
However, no more teams have left, and Brawn GP who have risen from the ashes of Honda seem a convincing replacement, perhaps even a better team.
Toyota have slashed their budgets, and here BMW are saying that F1 is right at the core of their company. The greatest world motorsport is pivotally vital to them and their brand development, alongside their World Formula BMW series’ and the WTCC entries.
“Today, BMW is spending 40 percent less on its involvement in Formula 1 than in 2005,” he said.
“Back then we were an engine supplier, but now have our own team, of course. Significant savings have been achieved through increases in the mileage required of each engine.
“When BMW returned to Formula 1 in 2000, we were using one engine for free practice, replacing it for qualifying and then fitting another new one for the race. This outlay has since been gradually reigned in and today each driver has to make do with eight engines for the full duration of the season.
“The heavily reduced testing schedule has brought further substantial budget savings. Testing on race circuits is banned outside of race weekends until 31 December 2009. The only exception will be tests for junior drivers with no GP experience after the season has finished. So we have put together a whole package of measures to reduce costs.”