Money explains lack of a French Grand Prix – Vergne

F1 Fanatic Round-up

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Magny-Cours, 2008In the round-up: Jean-Eric Vergne says there is no surprise why France remains off the F1 calendar while other countries such as Azerbaijan join it.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Interview with Jean-Eric Vergne (GP Update)

“We know that these countries pay a lot of money to receive Formula One and France isn’t what it used to be. It isn’t as rich as it was before.”

Kamui Kobayashi Q&A Part 1 (Crash)

“There are no big differences [since the takeover] because the trackside engineers are still the same positions so there’s no big difference, but on the company side there has been a lot of change. We lost a few guys’ jobs so it’s not an easy situation but I think they can fix it.”

Adderly Fong offered F1 reserve seat – but at a huge cost (South China Morning Post)

“Fong said he has been offered a reserve seat, believed to be with the UK-based Anglo-Russian team, for the 2015 season but he must come up with massive funding to make it all happen.”

Hungary 2014 – race edit (F1)

The FOM video highlights for the Hungarian Grand Prix include lots of new radio highlights – including Ricciardo’s exclamation of “that’s how it’s done, ladies” after passing Fernando Alonso to win the race – but the editing is questionable, showing some events out of sequence. See this comment for details.


Comment of the day

Disney may not seem like obvious buyers for Formula One but Theo Parkinson reckons they would be a good fit:

As someone who lives in the US and has watched a lot of coverage from major sporting events, Disney buying F1 would be a great move. ESPN is the definitive channel for sports, smashing NBCSN out of the water, and they have a great way of providing coverage that will make Americans care about the sport. If they can get half the excitement they managed to bring during the world cup, then I’m sure viewing figures will far exceed the current ones in the IS.

There is still one key issue stopping F1 from becoming big in the USA. The times of the races are ridiculous. Asian races aren’t worth it and European races are OK if you’re on central time but a real chore if you are further west. I know there isn’t really that much to be done, but F1 is always going to struggle in markets outside of Europe.
Theo Parkinson (@Theo-hrp)

The latest Caption Competition winner will appear in tomorrow’s round-up.

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Jacky Ickx, one of the masters of the Nurburgring Nordschleife, took his first German Grand Prix victory at the circuit 45 years ago today. The Brabham driver was leading eventual champion Jackie Stewart when the Matra driver’s challenge faded with gearbox trouble.

Steward nevertheless brought his car home second, almost a minute in arrears, with Bruce McLaren third, the best part of two-and-a-half minutes further back.

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65 comments on Money explains lack of a French Grand Prix – Vergne

  1. Calum (@calum) said on 3rd August 2014, 0:13

    If Disney bought F1 we could get the French GP back for sure when they implement a deal to get the cars racing down Main Street USA and past Big Thunder Mountain at Euro Disney!

    • dragoll (@dragoll) said on 3rd August 2014, 0:28

      Knowing Bernie, he’d create the track in the area of Euro Disney with the most money, so I bet it’d go through the tea cup ride and the castle. I hear Snow White is loaded.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd August 2014, 0:32

      If Disney bought F1 they would probably want the French GP to include the Champs Ellesey, Arc d’Triumphe (pardon my french spelling) and the Eiffel Tower.

    • JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 3rd August 2014, 1:14

      We jest about it, but the idea of Disney hosting a major motor-racing event would not be completely new. The Walt Disney World Speedway is an oval circuit that was built near the Magic Kingdom parking lot for the purpose of hosting IndyCar races during the early years of the IRL. The race itself was scrapped quite a while back though (I think the last race happened in 2001). I believe the reason for this was because the race day crowds became unmanageable when combined with the usual theme park-goers, although the track still exists to this day, hosting NASCAR experiences and track days. I know I’ve just answered a question that nobody asked, but hey…

    • ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 3rd August 2014, 8:56

      I’m sure there was rumours of a French GP encorporating that.

  2. HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd August 2014, 0:27

    Totally of piste, I was just looking at the WDC points so far and realising that DanR is only 71 points of the lead, imagine where he could be if he hadn’t had a dsq in race 1 and shortly after another 2 races totally destroyed by a pit-stop cluster**** followed by a severe grid penalty. F1 has enough random events without adding artificial ones.

  3. In_Silico (@insilico) said on 3rd August 2014, 0:47

    I wonder what people would think if Magny-Cours returned as the home of the French Grand Prix? I’m a big fan of that circuit and it’s a great track to drive. Some brilliant corners, especially the two quick, high speed chicanes as it’s amazing to see F1 cars fly through those with lightning quick changes of direction. The only downside being that it was known for boring races – a big factor to this being the difficulty in overtaking. It’s a shame really because I reckon it only needs to change a couple of corners or make a few tweaks here and there to help fix that problem. Magny-Cours or not, Formula One needs a French Grand Prix. With such a vast history in F1 and motorsport, it’s a real shame that F1 doesn’t visit there anymore.

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 3rd August 2014, 3:03

      Personally, it’d really depend on any changes they’d make to the track. As you said, the layouts used in the past provided little overtaking (and I can only imagine how boring it would be with DRS on the run to or from Adelaide hairpin) and boring races. If the circuit would make some changes to create some more potential overtaking spots, I’d welcome its return, otherwise, they might as well go to Paul Richard for the scenery and better accommodation.

      Frankly, F1 should have been alarmed when there was a drop of French backing, French drivers and ultimately, the French GP. But with other, richer countries filling up the gaps in the calendar, why bother fixing what is broken if others are still willing to indulge?

      • anon said on 3rd August 2014, 12:32

        To be fair, it seems that Bernie was quite serious about reviving the French GP until the discussions became mired in France’s internal politics – Sarkozy tried to push through a quick deal at the end of his administration, which was promptly torn up when the UMP was replaced by the Socialists and a completely different contract offered.
        Both parties, however, reportedly seem to have written in terms that were more focussed on trying to direct the race to regions they wanted to win votes in by tying the deal in with other projects (such as funding infrastructure developments) that neither FOM nor the teams seem to have wanted to be connected with. In the end, it seems that Bernie and FOM were put off as much by France’s internal politics as by the actual economics of the race itself.

    • ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 3rd August 2014, 9:00

      Honestly, it’d be fine these days, I think.

      They’d stick DRS after Estoril down to Adelaide (and probably make it far, far too long), and they’d do another from Chateaux d’Eau to Lycee pin.

      I think run-off is already pretty good there, too.

    • Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty) said on 3rd August 2014, 15:19

      @insilico We could have a race in France… or not. Monaco and Spa are still on their doorstep.. and the races at Silverstone, Nurburgring, Hockenheim, Monza, Barcelona etc. are also not a million miles away. I would say that Paul Ricard would be an ideal testing venue, however.

      • Iestyn Davies (@fastiesty) said on 3rd August 2014, 15:55

        I say this because we could also have Renault more involved, having Enstone with Grosjean, Vergne, Pic and Ocon, but it’s more likely we’ll be seeing just engines and possibly a pull-out in future.

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 3rd August 2014, 16:07

      @insilico Hungary is a tough track to overtake and look what happened…

    • Baron (@baron) said on 4th August 2014, 0:03

      Most people in F1 hated Magny Curse and would not be keen to go back there ever again….

  4. hunocsi (@hunocsi) said on 3rd August 2014, 0:51

    So Marussia would want a guy with no results as a reserve driver, who doesn’t even have the budget to complete a GP3 season? And I don’t think 3 million EUR is that much money to get that role (or at least I think they could find better drivers in that region) so I find that story very weird.

  5. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 3rd August 2014, 1:39

    now THAT is the coolest video I’ve seen in a looooooooooooong while !!!

    Thanks so much for posting it, @keithcollantine. Having been there myself, I just cannot understand so many things I’m seeing there… it’s a terrifying place today, i cannot imagine how it was back then…

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 3rd August 2014, 2:33

      @fer-no65, yep, when the good old days were good, they were very very good.

      1969 ! Must have been V8s, V12s, and possibly H16s and I4s.

      Just about the right amount of wing on those cars I reckon.

      • matiascasali (@matiascasali) said on 3rd August 2014, 3:40

        indeed, but did you see the distance between 1st, 2nd and 3rd? imagine yourself in the track, watching the race… it surely was boring, not to mention if you have to see it on tv (if it was an option). the “good old days” concept is totally overrated for me. surely it was dangerous, the drivers has much more to do than engineers back on those days, but i, for me, will leave the past were it is, in the past, and enjoy the really good races we’re having right now. Even when mercedes have a full second advantage over the rest, i prefer this races than the old ones!

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 3rd August 2014, 13:34

          @matiascasali When I imagine myself at races at that time the last thing I think of is boredom. With much of it in the drivers’ hands, unreliability always a much bigger possibility making no lead a guarantee of anything, and with the risks to life and limb that they were taking, and given the swarms of people there witnessing F1 races and a series that was destined to keep escalating hugely in global popularity, I cannot associate boredom with that. But that’s just me.

      • anon said on 3rd August 2014, 13:11

        No, the H16 engine was not in use at the time given that the engine proved to be desperately uncompetitive – both Lotus and BRM ditched the engine in 1967 because of that.

        As for the four cylinder engined cars, the ones you see there were Formula 2 cars that the organisers of the German GP had to draft in as an emergency measure to bolster the grid (only 14 F1 cars were officially entered for the race, which became 13 when Surtees refused to even start the race).

        Basically, the two groups of engines in use at the time were the Cosworth DFV V8’s and V12 – however, all of the V12 engines that season were sportscar engines, and it’s worth noting that most teams were using those engines out of necessity rather than choice.

        Cooper was using the Maserati V12 mainly because it was cheap and spent much of that season trying to get rid of it – they wanted to use a V8 engine, but a deal with Alfa Romeo for their sportscar V8 fell flat and they couldn’t cut a deal with Cosworth.

        As for Ferrari, Forghieri pointed out in his memoirs that the Ferrari V12 was an obsolete 1950’s sportscar engine that was being used because Ferrari was investing what limited funds he had into sportscar racing rather than F1. Had it not been for Forghieri, Ferrari probably would have already axed the F1 team by then – part of the reason they persisted with that V12 was because it was cheap enough for Ferrari to agree to give them the resources to compete.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 4th August 2014, 0:42

          Thanks, anon, obviously another F1 crisis, but why? the 3L rule came in in 66 and all the teams had new engines for that year, and to top it all everyone was treating the 3L Repco as a cynical exercise to allow Jack B. to collect starting money. Of course if Jack had the finances and development time the Cosworth DFV is what he would have wanted to build.

    • ferrox glideh (@ferrox-glideh) said on 3rd August 2014, 2:36

      Yes, AMAZING footage! And the icing on top was Jackie Stewart hamming it up on the podium at the end. Classic.

  6. Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 3rd August 2014, 2:43

    While the French fans may be missing out on a local race, the country is not missing out. F1 as a business has shown it is not interested in anything but $$$$$ and will continue rather than revive classic events and tracks and feed the sport and fans, to take money off countries that looking for a global presence. The hosting countries need to form their own collective against the FOM and make the sport more affordable, instead of lining the pockets of the rich.

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 3rd August 2014, 3:10

      How are the hosting countries going to form a collective when some governments are in no way involved in organizing the race? How are they going to unite when Bahrain and Abu Dhabi are offering more than they’re being asked for special treatment, like opening races and double points?

      Basically, the circuits, much like the teams, have consistently and structurally showed to be inadequate at defending their own interests over that of the sport or their backers’.

      The only reason I’ve even been pro-breakaway series is the possibility of a financial re-think of the sport. If ‘having the organizers pay for the race’ has become more important than ‘having people pay to go to the race and thus financing the race’ (and it has, a long time ago) then it’s basically as we Dutch call it swabbing up water without turning off the faucet.

      • Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 3rd August 2014, 7:38

        @npf1 I agree with your thoughts, but is this the future of the sport? Will races in 10yrs time only be held in the middle of the desert on baron tracks built by millionaires because they are the only ones that can afford to keep lining the pockets of the billionaires who own F1? I don’t understand your quote – If ‘having the organizers pay for the race’ has become more important than ‘having people pay to go to the race and thus financing the race’ How else do you expect the circuits/governments/organizers to pay the FOM fees?

  7. Nick (@npf1) said on 3rd August 2014, 3:24

    One of the most damning things I’ve memorized when it comes to stories relating to hosting an F1 race is from the time Zandvoort was aiming for F1 in the late 90s and early 2000s.

    Zandvoort didn’t get the proper grade on account of security measures and insufficient pit boxes. The organizers didn’t have enough money.

    But frankly, an F1 GP at Zandvoort with even the current infrastructure (which is much better than 10 years ago) would be an absolute nightmare. The infrastructure is a complete mess, leaving events like the Masters of F3 and the DTM with 6 hour long traffic jams and over-packed trains. The paddocks are too small and there are barely any seats anywhere around the track. Not to mention, if you’d enter the neighboring nature reserve and find the right path, you could actually wander somewhere along the track without paying a cent.

    By all accounts (and these include some not released to the press), Zandvoort was 2 developments to the track and a financial injection away from an F1 race between 1999 and 2001. Since then, the track has failed miserably in completing any of those things, but the thought that a track with so many problems outside of the track could have actually hosted F1 again is damning. Does the FOM nor FIA look at infrastructure? That would explain Magny Cours’ election over Paul Richard; it’s in the middle of nowhere and has poor accommodation. It would explain the South Korean debacle as well; how are people going to say ‘F1’s in town’ when it’s so far removed from any civilization it might as well be a few miles off coast?

    Honestly, I’d welcome back Magny Cours and even the Korea International Circuit, as long as they find a way for people to actually give a damn about those tracks, stay near them and not have a logistical nightmare every year.

    For a sport where a detail can mess up the big picture, like a wheel nut can mess up a race win and eventually a championship, the organizers are really not paying attention to details. And by the looks of things (I’m looking at you, future ‘European’ GP) the FIA, FOM and the teams are just going to keep on making the same mistakes until the grandstands are empty, TV rights cost a buck and McLaren is best known for their supercars.

    • andae23 (@andae23) said on 3rd August 2014, 7:07

      Not to mention, if you’d enter the neighboring nature reserve and find the right path, you could actually wander somewhere along the track without paying a cent.

      Not that difficult at all. Usually see people walking their dogs along the circuit ;)

      But yeah, it’s really incredible that the organisers keep making the same mistakes over and over again.

    • anon said on 3rd August 2014, 16:38

      In the case of Magny Cours, the French government of the time made bold promises to FOM that the local infrastructure around the circuit would be overhauled as part of a grand redevelopment scheme for the area – an area that was also a stronghold for the Socialist party and a region which Mitterand formerly represented, so it’s not surprising that Mitterand’s government was promising to throw money at the region whilst applying pressure on the FIA to promote a race there.

      Unfortunately, whilst Mitterand may have made sweeping promises of infrastructure reform, it seems that when Chirac, and later Sarkozy, came to power, both of them seem to have decided to punish Nevers for voting for the Socialists by blocking the infrastructure upgrades Mitterand had promised.
      Whilst upgrades to the motorway system were already being planned for in 1991, the political impasse meant that they weren’t actually built until 2012 – the FIA and FOM probably did look at the infrastructure, but were mislead by what they were promised by the government and probably didn’t expect to be caught up in a political row over infrastructure spending.

      Having been bitten before, it’s perhaps not surprising that, when the proposal to race at Magny Cours was brought up again by the current Socialist government, that FOM this time were keen to see the promised infrastructure developments built before they signed the contract…

      South Korea, in many ways, is a somewhat similar situation – the owners of the site were promising that the circuit would be part of a planned new city, with a mixed commercial and residential development built around the new track. The problem is, whilst the developers had support and approval from the Korean government, as well as some financial backing from the local authorities, it was a case of their ambition considerably overreaching their abilities, such that the promised infrastructure was, and probably will remain, incomplete.

  8. MattyPF1 (@mattypf1) said on 3rd August 2014, 4:44

    I have mixed feelings about the Adderly Fong situation. I’ m happy for him because there hasnt been a Chinese driver since Ma Qinghua that has had a link to a F1 team and I hope for Adderly that his attempt is more successful that Qinghua’s but I see more bad factors than good factors though. I he were to join this Angolo-Russian team (obviously Marrusia), he’ll a big budget to do so and people may see him as a pay rate driver, which isn’t the best F1 driver status to have. And also, whilst Marrusia already have a pay rate reserve driver in Rodolfo Gonzales, they also have up and coming future star in F1 in Cypriot Tio Ellinas and newly appointed official reserve driver and former Caterham protege Alexander Rossi. In all reality, Bianchi will go to Ferrari eventually and who knows what Chilton will do but even then, unless he pulls out a budget that equals Bill Gates’ salary, Fong won’t get a race seat until Ellinas, Rossi and even Gonzales have either raced full time for Marrusia and either moved on or been replaced or when those 3 drivers have parted ways with Marrusia before they get a full time drive.

  9. lawrence said on 3rd August 2014, 5:33

    Money seems to have a way of explaining everything, it seems. It can even explain how you can get out of the bribery trial by paying a bigger bribe. Bernie simply made a mistake of not paying everyone in the chain, and so they had to take him to the court, in order to get him to lube all of the parts of the machinery.

  10. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 3rd August 2014, 9:31

    Does anyone know of any series that races around the outer track at Magny Cours? I can’t seem to find any details on that particular layout:

  11. Rigi (@rigi) said on 3rd August 2014, 9:54

    who in their right mind would want to have adderly fong as their reserve driver. as a driver that stuggles to finish in the top 15 in gp3. seriously, marussia have got stoneman in gp3 who’s been fairly sucessful, so why fong?

    • ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 3rd August 2014, 10:19

      It’s a pretty simple answer…

      Besides, it means nothing. How often do you see these guys get an actual drive during the weekend?

      Honestly, it’s the biggest scam in F1. It amazes me how companies pay literally millions for a driver to sit in the background! I fail to see what kind of promotion that illicits.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 3rd August 2014, 14:57

        Why Fong? I’m guessing there aren’t too many Chinese fellows as close as he is to F1 even if that ‘closeness’ is fairly distant. Why Fong? I think the Chinese market being as massive as it is, and being more ‘westernized’ by the day, means there is huge potential from a marketing standpoint. Some companies have millions to spend, and even if a driver is in a reserve position he will still be on billboards and ad campaigns back in China sitting beside or in an F1 car as a member of an F1 team. Imagine at the other extreme a Chinese driver vying for a WDC or even a podium and what that would mean to the global viewership numbers and the boost they would get from the Chinese market. Not saying it’s easy given that the US can’t put an F1 driver on a F1 podium either but gotta start somewhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese government backed a driver at some point.

      • Breno (@austus) said on 3rd August 2014, 20:48

        Maybe he is a godly technical driver, who is just slow.

        Regardless, reserve driver is an empty title, just look at Lotus last year ignoring their pay driver and choosing… Kovaleinein to replace Raikkonen.

  12. F1 Noob (@noob) said on 3rd August 2014, 9:56

    On another note, here is a cool graph showing The number of overtakes between 1981 and 2014 (line chart)

  13. Sam L. said on 3rd August 2014, 14:44

    I’m out in the Pacific time zone and it doesn’t matter to me when the races are because I record them and watch later so I can FF thru the commercials.

  14. Girts (@girts) said on 3rd August 2014, 18:40

    I do not believe that France is not as rich as it used to be, it is just that race hosting fees have been growing much faster than the economy of France and its central and local governments cannot afford to spend ridiculous amounts of money on F1. France is a democracy and the politicians have to face consequences if they ignore the people, who might not be happy to see millions of public money being spent on hosting an F1 race. Countries like Azerbaijan and Russia do not have that problem as their leaders know that they will be “elected” again anyway and that their mass media will tell the people whatever the people need to hear.

    It is easier to get money from undemocratic countries but it is an unsustainable strategy because these countries are politically less stable, do not have devoted fan bases and can lose interest soon. But, as Che (“Evita” movie) sings, “when the money keeps rolling in, you don’t ask how”.

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