F1 Off-Season News #4

Tony Fernandes was offered £6 million from Lotus to abandon name

This is a bit of old news now, and I don’t really want to cover this silly argument much more, but it was interesting that Tony Fernandes responded to Gerard Lopez’s accusations that Team Lotus only kept the name to keep the FOM money for coming in 10th place in the championship.

So in a way Gerard Lopez was right, but Fernandes also talked about his passion for the Lotus name and how he played with his toy Lotus car when he was a boy, so he is showing that it’s about far more than money to him. I’m sure if push came to shove, he would relinquish the name reluctantly and adopt the Team Air Asia moniker as his GP2 team does. Obviously if they can come to some agreement where they keep the FOM prize money as well then that would be the best solution to this saga, as Lotus Renault GP I don’t believe can be forced to abandon the sponsorship agreement with Group Lotus.

I hope this gets sorted out very early in the season so it doesn’t drag out and allows both teams to focus on the task at hand, racing to win.

Robert Kubica‘s high speed rally crash puts season and maybe career in jeopardy

Obviously this is a big shock to everyone, a great shame for Robert and the team, and for all the F1 fans out there who desperately wanted to see him challenging for wins this season in that beautiful new black and gold car.

Apparently he was in a worse way than we were led to believe at first. We heard that he had broken an arm and a leg, which is bad enough. What we didn’t see at first though was that he had partially severed his hand in the crash. He had to wait at least 30 minutes to be cut free of the car and had to undergo 7 hour long surgery to make sure that movement in his hand was saved. Obviously, no one has to explain how vital this is to his career so it’s good to read that things have gone well so far, and in the next few days we should get a clearer idea of how it is and how long he will be out for.

Renault showed immense compassion and of course, as you would expect, put the safety of the driver above their dampened season hopes. They said that everyone at the team and Robert himself knew and understood the risks. They wouldn’t want to attempt to stop Kubica from participating in his hobby of rallying, no matter the danger, as they knew how big a part of his life it is.

Some F1 teams, and certainly teams in other sports such as football would not be so lenient and would have a kind of get out clause in the contract to allow themselves to bail out if an athlete injured themselves while participating in an activity the team banned them from. Perhaps when they signed Robert, they thought that they were lucky to have signed such a talented driver to their line-up at a time when the team were in the midst of the fallout to crash-gate. With that said however, I don’t think this really played into it too much.

Bruno Senna is the obvious choice to replace Kubica for the time he is out, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see another driver from Force India moving teams mid-season to replace an injured starting driver. Felipe Massa was eventually replaced by Giancarlo Fisichella and Nico Hulkenberg could be an appealing prospect, as he is currently only a test driver at that team. Then again, that could be seen as a massive snub to Senna and Grosjean who both have considerable F1 experience. It would really depend on how competitive the car is and if they think anyone else would be able to get more out of their car than the two reserves they have under contract currently.

Karun Chandhok closing on Team Lotus Test role

It has just been announced that Karun will test for the team in Jerez this week. The team clearly like the Indian former HRT driver and want to make him a permanent fixture with the team in this role. I hope this next test goes well and we see him hanging around the Team Lotus garage at each of the 20 races this year.