Williams became the last team to launch their 2013 car, the FW35. Adrian Sutil had had a seat fitting made at Force India, and are testing the new car in Barcelona, while the Kingfisher Airline owned by team owner Vijay Mallya is in deep financial trouble. Mercedes rejects the claims that they are about to pull out of F1 all together, and Lewis Hamilton has beaten Sebastian Vettel´s time on TopGear.
According to two shareholders of Mercedes, Michael Muders form the fund manager Union and henning Gebhardty, of DWS, the foray into F1 has been to expensive for the Daimler group and the yield is not big enough to continue, they say.
“Mercedes has been behind for years, without consequence,” said Muders. “But Formula One is expensive and brings nothing to the (Daimler) group.”
Gebhardt added: “Formula One no longer enhances the image (of Mercedes), especially if we are in countries criticized of human rights violations.”
Truly some good and valid points and they need to be discussed. But is it a carmakers job to deal with human rights issues? Who draws the line between hat is right and what is wrong? Personally, I think the Bahrain story of 2011 and 2012 was a very good example of how a completely different event drew attention to F1, even though the demand for reforms and basic human right has nothing to do with 24 cars screaming around the desert. Of course the carmakers could and should be concerned about what is going on in the world, and yes I do tink that the event in bahrain was controversial. But a carmakers finest task is to build cars and if they wish, to race them. Don´t race cars and then say it costs too much. You´re in or you´re out.
Mercedes´ new chairman Niki Lauda, rejected the claims from the two shareholders, saying that there are more TV viewers today and there is a lot of growth to be seen, as more and more countries are added to the calendar.
Over at Force India, Adrian Sutil is back. Or is he? The German, who has spent his entire F1 career at the team, when it was known as Midland and Spyker, and knows his way around the team. Sutil was in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, when he was incolved in a nihgt club incident with Genii´s Eric Lux. Sutil was charged with assault, received a suspended 18 month prison sentence and a fine of €200.000. His career looked to be over. But then, as the teams managed to fill their seats, Force India was the only one left with a vacant seat. The call came and Sutil had a seat fitting last week, and he is today testing the brand new car. But there is still no contract for him to race this year.
So, a team in financial distress, a team owner who has not shown up and taken the bull by the horns, not even trying to explain what is going on in his own team, and a experienced driver who is testing their car. For free, it seems. If Force India does not sign Sutil, they are shooting themselves in the foot. Rumour has it that Sutil has secured a sponsorship package worth €8 million, so the money is clearly there. Just sign it, Vijay…
Lewis Hamilton appeared on TopGear recently, and was eager to beat his own previous time in the reasonably priced car. And not only did he do that, he also smashed Sebastian Vettel´s time, who at the time was the fastest time of F1 drivers past and present, with more than a second. Kudos to you, sir.
Finally, Williams launched their FW35 car. it is blue and white. Four wheels. A steering wheel. Ok, so it looks enormously dull, but Mike Coughlan, you remember, the guy with the spy shit some years back, said that the team had made a great deal of dyno testing to ensure reliability. The work also includes a new gearbox new rear suspension, new radiators, a new floor, new exhausts, new bodywork, a new nose and a significant amount of weight-saving.
It will be interesting to see how well Williams will fair this season, considering their improved form last year.