Jan 01

2015 Weeknotes 33-34

17 – 30 Aug

Being on holiday stops you blogging, who knew!:-) Anyway, I will catch up, but I’m doing it monthly for the rest of the year.


  • Belgian GP

    The main event was my prize trip to the Belgium Formula 1 GP, that I had won earlier in the summer from Shell. I’ve already written this up, for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the race.

  • I was out with both some F1 friends and Wine Club for dinner during the week. One of those was slightly more boozier than the other, I’ll leave you to work out which was which!
  • There was a lot of fun and games with the Gas Board/National Grid/whatever they’re called. They are slowly replacing all the gas pipes in the area, which includes the pipes into the home. Which means you need to be in for them to come and change the pipes. One complication is that the pipes to the upstairs’ neighbour go through my house, so we both need to be in to have the replacement. But he hadn’t got the message, so the replaced mine. We then spent the next 10 days trying to arrange a time we were both in and the fitters were available to do the final bit of pipework.
  • the last Disc World

    I bought the last of the Disc World novels. And then let it sit there for a few days, because once I started, it would be finished quickly, and then there would be no more. And that made me sad.

  • I went to the Notting Hill Carnival, or at least the Sunday version! I’ve never braved the full on Monday show, just the slightly quieter Sundays. It was good fun. The Full photo set is on Flickr.

    Notting Hill Carnival

    Notting Hill Carnival


  • 4 Myths about the Calais Migrants Debunked. On Mashable. One little story at least trying to put some facts in place and drown out the Daily Fail rhetoric.
  • The Coddling of the American Mind. I’ve been reading a fair bit about this. It is scary how debate and intellectual challenge is being pushed out in the name of political correctness. Yes, the white male view point has been the predominate one in western culture, yes, there is more opportunity for more people to have different viewpoints and the cultural norm to change, but that does not mean that debate should be stopped because it may ‘trigger’ people. People always playing the victim is not culturally healthy. Believing that a viewpoint is not valid or ‘less’ because of the person saying it (rather than the idea or viewpoint being challengeable) is not culturally healthy. This attitude and campus atmosphere will take a long time to change and pass.
  • So, Yalla Bye. On the Foreign Office. A fascinating account from a diplomat leaving his station in Lebanon.
  • Move over Turing. An experiment looking at how good AI is at recognising images.
  • I stopped counting! 1 definite, with the last of the Terry Pratchett books. I downloaded 7 Kindle books in this time and guess what, 2 were actually non-fiction!
  • The Time In Between by Nancy Tucker. A memoir of a teenage girl’s experience with anorexia.
  • The Mechanic’s Tale by Steve Matchett. A autobiography of an F1 mechanic.
Aug 25

Race Day at the Belgian GP with Shell Motorsports

Belgian GP Race Day

Our final day at the track! Surprisingly the trip in on the morning was pretty much the same as on the previous days. We hit traffic at the same place and got to the track around 10 again. Before we left, our instructions for the end of the day were made plain – bags to be labelled with where they were going (airport or train), and everyone to leave as soon as the race finished! It was a long trip back to our departure points.

All clear on that, I made my way to the grandstand for the GP2 race, and got to see Alexander Rossi claim his first win of the season. Rossi is a driver I’d seen speak a few times, as when he was with Caterham, he’d turn up at quite a few fan events; it was great to see him on the podium.

Belgian GP Race Day

Back into the Shell suite and time to get into place for the Kimi chat. The room was full; the suite and the GP is used as a B2E/B2B event and they were in full swing in awarding prizes for great work across their forecourts in Europe. But as the time for the appearance got closer, the room moved from comfortably sat in seats to ‘how close can i get to the stage’ mode. There were lots of phones in the air recording Raikkonen’s brief interview; it was unfortunate that after stopping in Q2 and a gearbox penalty means he was going to start from 16th; he was not in the most chatty of moods before the crowd but even so, lots of pictures and videos were taken.

Belgian GP Race Day

Now time for waiting, we had 2 hours before the race start. Which meant lunch and a chance to take a look at the vintage cars that we lined up next to our venue all ready for the drivers parade.

Belgian GP Race Day

The grandstands were full for the race, well, almost. Some people had decided to stay indoors and watch on the big screen in comfortable sofas (and bar and food close by). But Sofia and I want to watch the cars so up we went for the 43 laps. The crowd in the grandstand were definitely partisan for Ferrari, being mainly (all?) Shell employees and guests, and were cheering all the moves being made. Or groaning when Vettel’s tyre went on the last but one lap. I think Grosjean would still have taken the place, but it was not a good way for that to happen.

Belgian GP Race Day

The chequered flag flew, Hamilton won and then we were out of there. Straight off the grandstand and outside the gates before the champagne was spraying. Onto our minibus to take 8 of the group onto Brussels train station. Well, that was the plan, it appears the police and road closures had other ideas, sending us south for 45 mins before letting us get on the motorway, where we promptly turned north, 15mins later going back past the track with a view across to the pitstraight grandstands. At that point, the phone said 2 hours to go; we would have made it but there was traffic and traffic and even more traffic. the minutes skipped by (every single one of them accompanied by a high pitched beep beep beep as there was an alarm they could not turn off) and our ETA was getting further and further away. One last burst of traffic and that was it, no chance of making the train now. Our friendly hosts had actually made it to the station before us – they were not subject to the bus detour – so we’d been in touch and they were busy re-arranging the arrangements. By the time got there (7:59, 7 mins after train departure, we were SO close), tickets were being sorted for the following morning and hotel almost re-organised – we were lucky enough to get the last set of rooms in the station hotel. Time for one last meal together before the early starts the next day. From hotel to work took me 2.5 hours – some of my colleagues have longer commutes than that!

In summary, a wonderful weekend. The team from Shell (and their agency) made sure we had a great time, ensured we had a few different experiences and made sure we learnt about Shell V-Power and the science that goes behind it with some conversations with some fascinating people who make the products. All of this at a classic F1 venue with plenty of time to watch the cars. Thank you very much!

(and below..the video from the event)

Posted in f1
Aug 22

Saturday at the Belgian GP with Shell Motorsports

It’s supposed to rain at Spa. A day at the track without full waterproofs in the bag is pushing your luck, you’re bound to get wet. Except, it seems, in 2015. So far, sun. And even more sun. It is very, very warm, so much so that I left the coat and brolly behind today and had no issues. The covered grandstand today was for shade rather than dryness.

Belgian GP Day 2

It’s hard to gather together 25 people, so we set off on the Saturday morning a wee bit later than advertised and hit the expected traffic. But overall, only about 1:15 in travel – I wonder what the race day traffic will be like? On arrival, I dashed out to go and meet Mike at Status Grand Prix for a chat and a quick look at the garage. The GP3 qualifying was taking place at the time, so also got to see the cars coming down the pitlane…if only any of my photos had worked!!! It was good to catch up and chat about the various financial challenges of F1 vs the Gp2/GP3 scene; I’d previously met Mike when he worked for Virgin/Marussia so he knows the issues there.

Belgian GP Day 2

Next up, back to the Shell suite where the Shell Motorsports team had arranged for James Allen to come and chat with the group. This time, I managed to make the chat instead of missing it to watch cars. The questions and answers ranged from Pirelli tyres to Honda engines to FOM social media. It also took in whether or not the sport was ‘good’ now vs in the past (or do all fans look to the past with rose-tinted spectacles, no appreciating what we have now) and with James assessment of the best and worst drivers on the current grid (Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel for the former, with Verstappen getting an honourable mention).

Belgian GP Day 2

Time now for FP3, a last chance to assess the cars before qualifying. Lunch was followed by the chance to take part in a pitstop challenge, the first one of these I’ve done. I was on the gun and it took a few goes before I worked out how to take the gun off and not leave the wheel nut on the wheel! But the team got it together and we managed a respectable 2.8 seconds on one of our attempts.

Belgian GP Day 2

We also got the chance for another chat with a fuel scientist, in their public facing lab (which was actually the one they use for Le Mans) and went into more depth about the oils they use.

Belgian GP Day 2

Time now for qualifying, which went, in the main as expected. Although Ferrari did not have a good day, with Raikkonen stopping on track and Vettel only managing ninth. We’ll see how they do in the race. Thankfully. for my fantasy league results, HAM got pole. All I need now is for VET to make up 7 places!

Belgian GP Day 2

Back to Shell suite for a meet up with István Kapitány, the EVP retail for Shell (ie the man who had to say yes to spend all the money on the competition/promotion I won). A nice guy all round who seemed very happy to see some very happy competition winners!

Final car event of the day was the GP2 race; due to the red flag we had to leave before it was finished however. I think that is the one big difference between doing this myself (when I’d be early and late to watch all the sessions) and being part of a party that has time deadlines. Twitter then becomes the friend to watch via text commentary 🙂

Belgian GP Day 2

The journey back to the hotel was via another detour, but we made it in time for our lovely meal out. The Shell team have been brilliant at making sure we are fed, watered and entertained! Tomorrow, race day. It looks like HAM, ROS at least for the Podium, not sure who else will make it though, Spa is a great track to bring the surprises. The first of which is the lack of rain forecast!

(the following picture was taken on the way back to the hotel after the meal. I have NO IDEA what they’re trying to say in this ‘art’}

Belgian GP Day 2

Posted in f1
Aug 22

A trip to the Belgian GP, day 1

In the previous post, you’ll have read that I managed to win a lovely VIP trip to the Belgian GP, through a competition organised by Shell Motorsports. Finally, after a few email exchanges, that the day arrived and we were off to SPA.

Sofia and I were travelling by Eurostar, as were a number of others, both competition winners and journalists/bloggers. From Brussels train station, 7 of us piled into a cab for the hour’s trip to Maastricht, for our hotel. This in itself was about an hour from Spa – as the track is in the middle of the Ardennes forest, there is not exactly a lot of accommodation around and many people camp, or do a long trip to the track everyday.

Belgian GP

Once at the hotel, checked in, we got the all important timetable – and tickets! The precious tickets, 3 days grandstand and access to the Shell Hospitality Suite at the bottom of Eau Rouge. But before we would do any of that, our first treat of the weekend, dinner with the Ferrari reserve driver, Estaban Gutierrez. There was no time in his schedule to get all the way out to us, so we were bundled into a coach and heading to Spa, to a small place called Roannay just by the track. It is apparently the place where Bernie Ecclestone stays, which is why it must be one of the very few rural hotels with a helipad out the back.

Belgian GP

Our guest arrived, only a little late, and the photocall was done. Then dinner, and Estaban joined a couple of the tables for a chat, along with some of the Shell fuel experts to chat about how they develop the fuel for the teams.

Belgian GP

As with all aspects of a Formula 1 team, the development of fuels is a continuous battle, always looking for ways to eek out more power and more efficiency. This year alone, they have managed to find an extra 5HP through development. I asked our Shell expert if the fuel and the engine were co-developed, if they had ever suggested an engine tweek because of a fuel improvement. The answer, surprisingly was yes, it can happen that way and when it does, all improvements are considered. As expected, we also spent quite a bit of time chatting about Shell V-Power and how the race team fuel development has inputted into the road car fuel. Another interesting fact about that is that V-Power is now often used for racing cars themselves (club racing etc) as it works as well as the specialist fuel but is a lot cheaper! The dinner over, we headed back, one last drink taken in the lovely warm evening in the square.

Friday dawned bright and sunny. Yes, sunny,, hot, completely weird weather for Spa which is traditionally a bit wet. Back on the coach and we were finally headed to the circuit. Quite a few people in the group had never been to Spa (in fact for some, this was their first race) and it was great to see their reaction when they turned the corner to see Eau Rouge for the first time. Our home for the weekend was the Shell Hospitality Suite which is at the bottom of the Eau Rouge hill. Just up from it is our grandstand – which provides us with a glorious view!

Belgian GP

Before I got the chance to sit there for a while. we were first up for a whistlestop paddock visit to take a look at the Shell touring laboratory. We learnt about the fuel checking, taking samples every single time it moves containers and continuously checking them for consistency. Anything out of the ordinary, something as simple as contamination from a glove, can mean that the fuel no longer matches the reference sample and is therefor ‘illegal’. On the Helix oil side, checks are run that allow early signs of engine trouble to be detected. Anything strange in those samples can mean that a bit of the engine may be starting to break down – and the oil analysis can pick things up before anyone else.

Belgian GP

We also got to see Maldonaldo back in the paddock after his FP1 crash! Unfortunately, no garage tour though. 🙁

Belgian GP

Belgian GP

The rest of my day was mainly spent watching cars. Which means I missed the visit from David Croft from Sky who came down to chat with the group – I was watching GP2. I did get to listen to Marc Gene at the end of the day though, when the group was invited to ask him questions about his career, the cars and how Shell helps them. He’s the one that mentioned the improvement that can be seen this year in the fuel and how it does get noticed in the car; he also chatted about how the whole system is getting more efficient, with fuell use now down to about 2.5 litres a lap (average over tracks) whereas before the recent changes, it was about 3ltrs.

Belgian GP

First day done…back to hotel for dinner and chat. Two more days to go.

Posted in f1
Aug 09

The Hunt by Shell Motorsport

Shell The Hunt London

It was a lovely day in London yesterday. It was made even better by Shell who ran an event – follow the clues, find the Ferrari, answer a question and see if you’re quick enough to get there first and win a trip to the Belgian GP. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have noticed that I was fast enough and I did win 🙂

Shell are a long term sponsor of motorsport, with their partnership with Ferrari being one of the more longstanding ones in Formula 1. They also sponsor the Belgian GP, so they tend to do a lot of hospitality at the race, I heard the number of 800 people who would be guests over the weekend. And 1 of them will be me this year, along with the other winner of the day, our friends plus the winners of the other events.

The competition started off with having to register for the event, they then invited 70 people to the actual hunt, starting off on the Southbank. A surprising number of people did not turn up for this – i reckon there was only about 30, so the odds improved immediately. This is always an issue when running promotions like this, getting the people to actually enter and take part – but if you don#t take part, then you have no chance. As i looked around at the people gathered, I was trying to assess my chances. At this point, we had no idea what the form of the treasure hunt would take. Would we need to jum on and off tubes? How hard would the questions be? Just what were the rules going to be. I was expected to have to do some running – I came prepped with trainers – but not sure how much. There were definitely some speedy looking people standing around, I was not expecting to be able to win a footrace.

The briefing went through the rules. We were going to get the clues via DM, we had to make our way to each of the checkpoints, take a selfie, with the info, and tweet them, in the right order. At the end, we’d find a Ferrari California T and if we answered a question right, the prize was a VIP trip to the Belgian GP. The prize was only for the first 2 people to make it though, both to win a pair of tickets. It was clear that we could take whatever form of transport we wanted to get to all the locations.

Shell Motorsport The Hunt London

The clues were delivered, the countdown happened and we were off!!! I went off at a steady jog, first stop the Imax. quite a few in front in me but as I got close, for some reason quite a few seemed to be going the wrong way, I stuck to my plan and got the first image. Next stop, Somerset House. Up to Waterloo Bridge, taking the decision to run instead of catch bus or cab at this point. Found the next checkpoint on the Strand, repeat the selfie taking and then switch transport mode.

Shell The Hunt London

Living in London and knowing this particular area well, I knew it was a bit of distance to the next 2 checkpoints, time to take a cab! Not quite sure what the cab driver made of me out of breath..but he got to the Millennium Bridge as fast as he could for check point 3. Then another cab, luckily there was one right there. As I got next to the City Hall, I saw two people running ahead of me, so I jumped out the cab and dashed after them!. I had no idea if I was any where near the front but I kept going to see the Ferrari finally set out on the grass, with people waving checquered flags and the car surrounded by security.

Shell The Hunt London

A quick check that I’d done all the tweets then time to try and answer the final question. We’d been told to read all the checkpoints trivia, but the answer turned out not to be there, but right in front of me! It took my 3 tweets to actually get the right answer and all the time I was waiting for them to call another name to go with Jon, who was there first and had already got his prize. But yes, mine was the name they called out next and I HAD WON!!! WOOT!!!

Shell The Hunt London

I had so much adrenaline that I was still shaking 15mins later. We had to do a number of retakes but the film, as us winners had beaten the camera team to the final checkpoint, so we did a few more run ins and car openings. Then it was off to the pub where the Shell team had got food ad drink awaiting – plus everyone got fuel vouchers as well.

The was a final little bonus – a ride in the Ferrari. First time in a Ferrari – and it’s not often i get to sit in a car that cost more than my flat did!

Ferrari across Tower Bridge

Posted in f1
Jan 01

A review of 2014

Before I look ahead, surely it’s time to take a quick look back, even if just for a reminder for myself. For the first time in a few years, I did not set any new year ambitions for 2014. I’d been made redundant and really, was not in the mood! I was focusing on finding a new role, not thinking beyond that. So I can’t do a review and see if I achieved them. However, they would have been the usual – fitness and expriences. it’s all about that. So what did I get up to? Time to take a look at the photos.

January was a quiet month – it was looking for jobs and going for interviews. But I did take advantage of a sunny day to visit Kew Gardens for the first time in the year. I go there quite a bit, as I have bought membership – definitely worth looking at if you live in the area and want to support plant research (you know, the stuff that may keep us fed as the climate changes)

Kew January 2014

Once I’d got myself sorted, I too advantage of the opportunity to take a long weekend and popped over to Naples, primarily to see Pompeii. Having read reviews about visiting the preserved city in the summer, with the crowds and the heat, I was quite happy to have a dry winter weekend and the place almost to myself.



I got a couple of F1 events in during the early part of the year. First, the Zoom auction, which sells off signed photos from F1 stars to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. There’s another one this January and you can buy some from the online store. I also went along to watch a filming of the Sky F1 show, something I did a couple of times. It’s always fun watching TV being made. Finally, the Not a FOTA Forum, an event run for fans by the ex-Secretary of the FOTA org, who got along some F1 insiders to talk and entertain.

Zoom Auction

the F1 Show

Not A FOTA Forum

Running went well in the first part of the year. I completed a couple of half marathons and then the big one – the London Marathon. I was very happy to get round in 4:30. No entry for me in 2015, but I’ve decided to run the Paris Marathon, so training is full speed ahead for that

London Marathon

The week after the marathon, I got the chance to go skiing, through a friend. Last time I tried skiing was when I worked in Scotland and dry slope lessons were part of the social club activities, but I’d never tried on snow. I think that’ll be my last skiing holiday though. It turns out I don’t do the mix of mountains and skis very well, or rather skis and edges. I’m not afraid of much, but I experienced physical terror on a couple of occasions. I did not like it!

Val d'Isere

June brought a trip to the Canadian Grand Prix, via a few days in New York and then Toronto to see old friends. Loved this trip, good catchups, good food and a great time in Montreal, which has to be one of the best places to hold F1, with the circuit right near the city with plenty of public transport.

Canada GP 2014 Friday

The summer had a few of my regular events. I officiated at the Joint Services Regatta again, went to Kew fete and visited Goodwood and the British GP – it was a bit rainy for the latter, but the sun was out for everything else

JSR 2014

Goodwood 2014

Silverstone Saturday 2014

In July, I ended up in hospital having emergency surgery for a detached retina, followed by 2 weeks bed rest before slowly getting back into things. All my running got put on hold and the autumn plan of 3 half marathons in 3 weeks did not happen, but I did manage to squeeze in a local 10k and half marathon in September,before heading up to Birmingham to run the Great Birmingham run, another half, with my sister. With minimal trianing over the summer, I was quite happy just to get round!

A few local events in the autumn, with the Tall Ships Festival visting Greenwich and the amazing installation Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red at the Tower of London. I went fairly early in the process of building this and it was relatively quiet, but I’m not surprised at the corwds that developed over the weeks, via word of mouth as it was just an amazing site. I bought a poppy too. I managed to get to watch the Lord Mayor’s show for the first time (the problem with living in London is doing London events!). And I won the Army Rowing Club Player of the Year cup, for all my help over the past 19 (?) years

Tall Ships Festival, Greenwich

Blood Swept Lands and Sea of Red

Lord Mayor's Show 2014

Player of the Year award

The year ended with a bit more F1, with a trip to Abu Dhabi GP (having won tickets at Silverstone) and also a prize trip to take a tour around the Mercedes F1 factory. I always say that if you never enter competitions, you’ll never win, so you always have to take a chance!

Sunday Abu Dhabi 2014

Mercedes F1 Factory Tour

That’s it! A pretty full and fun year. I’m already got my plans for 2015 for holidays, but it’s the bits between them as well that make the year interesting.

Jun 15

An F1 Pit Lane walk

Canada is one of the few F1 circuits that offer access on the Thursday before the race meet starts. You don’t even need to have a race ticket to access the track. So off we went to hang around the pitlane for 3 hours – along with a lot of other people! But it was not that crowded, the circuit had done this plenty of times before and had the organisation sorted. A queue, a bus to the pitlane and then the chance to queue up for driver autographs or just walk up and down the garages.

Neither of us wanted to get autographs – the queue was long, you never knew who you would get and neither of us tend to collect them – so we just went straight to the cars, taking lots and lots of photos. We also saw quite a few drivers heading out for their track walk.

Back into town and a bit of tourism – the Notre Dame Basilica. Built by the Francophone community, it’s completely different to the churches I usually visit, with the English reformation stripping out all the decoration back to the raw stone. I prefer the unadorned grandeur, but I can see the reasoning behind the decoration.

Montreal June 5 2014

We ended the day with a trip to Crescent St, which is blocked off and turned into a F1 party street, with lots of sponsor stalls and events. This is supported by the official sponsors; a few blocks over on Peel St seems to be slightly more unofficial, with non-sponsors getting into the act. Both a fun places to wander around! We bumped into a few F1 fans we knew from Twitter and ended up with a few drinks.

Oct 13

Japan Day 9: Race Day at Suzuka

Japan Day 9: Race day at Suzuka

Today was the day of the Japanese Grand Prix. The 15th race of the season. A race where Vettel could win the championship. My second GP of the year. And the reason why Sofia and I are in Japan.

But this isn’t a race report. These blog posts are more about my travels in Japan. So there’s not that much to say today!

We caught the morning train to the circuit and decided to follow the locals in their traditions. Not camping out in car parks though!

Japan Day 9: Race day at Suzuka

We found ourselves a spot under the grandstand, spread out our mat and camped out there, waiting for the race.

Japan Day 9: Race Day at Suzuka

The fans come prepared, with ground mats and masking tape. The mats are taped down and that is their space. It’s respected, no one intrudes or steps on it and people snooze, eat, chat or read. There is a similar respect at Silverstone, when it comes to race watching positions, but in Suzuka, this is about pre-race waiting.

Japan Day 9: Race Day at Suzuka

I decided on a hamburger for lunch. I assume the owners of the van knew what they meant by their slogan, but not 100% sure!

Japan Day 9: Race day at Suzuka

Other people had pizza. And ate it using chopsticks!

Japan Day 9: Race day at Suzuka

The race was brilliant! At the circuit, you can only see a certain amount and without commentary it is very hard to follow. But in this case, Twitter filled in the gaps and we were able to keep track of what was going on. Vettel won the race, but not the championship. Guess he’ll take it in India.

My souvenir was the Bernie puppet, only available in Japan. There’s a Jenson one too!

Japan Day 9: race day at Suzuka

Still absolutely in love with the train system. Amazed that they only let people with seat reservations onto reserved trains, no filling up the aisles. Makes for a calm journey.

We had to double check it was still Sunday – it seemed to be the busiest day on the transport and shopping mall so far. Japan does do Monday to Friday work weeks??

I’m not sure why, but all the red wine I have had has been served chilled. Sake, coffee, tea, chocolate, they offer you hot or cold. Red wine, no choice, it’s chilled!

Tomorrow, we head for Kyoto.

Today’s photos can be seen on Flickr

Day 8 post: Sill at Suzuka : Day 7 Post – Suzuka : Day 6 Post – Hakone to Nagoya : Day 5 Post – Hakone : Day 4 Post – Tokyo : Day 3 post – Tokyo : Day 2 post – Tokyo : Day 1 post – Tokyo

Feb 26

2013 Week 8

A quick follow up to catch up the weeks.


  • Fitbit talks about tracking and privacy. I’m using a Fitbit and I love it. Just wearing it makes me think about being more active, to climb the stairs instead of the escalator. As mentioned in the article, the ecosystem is great and I hope increased competition does not restrict this.
  • A comment on whether Silicon Valley really is a meritocracy or if that’s just the white male view. The concept of privilege is not going away, nor is the vastly different perceptions of it.
  • Moshi Monsters and why kids love them. Yep, building a new kids property is hard. Moshi pretty much nails it
  • Why Americans are WEIRD. A challenge to the accepted wisdom that people’s behaviours and perceptions are fundamentally the same, based on biology, so using western (and primarily US) people for studies would apply worldwide. this research shows that is not the case and Americans are often one of the most outlying of groups


  • HOLIDAY! yes my first holiday of the year. Now, most people would not call what I did as a holiday, but I enjoyed it. It was a trip to Barcelona to watch the F1 testing. So every day, travel up to the circuit and sit and watch cars go round for 7 hours. In the freezing cold and occasional rain. Then back to the city for tapas and red wine. A lovely week and one that is planned for next year too!

    2013 Barcelona F1 Testing Day 3

  • Forgot to add this for the last week entry, but I have completed a further 2 stages of the LOOP walk. Over the two weekends, I have travelled from Bexley to West Wickham Common. Three sections done, 21 to go!

    Walk the LOOP 3  -Petts Wood to West Wickham Common

Nov 15

Motorsports Business Forum Austin: Sponsorships

The Motorsports Business Forum holds regular events around the business of Motorsports (unsurprisingly). The latest edition was held in Austin, where there were 200+ attendees, most of them local. I went along to listen to teams and sponsors talk the business of F1, rather than the sport, which was the topic of the previous day’s FOTA Fan Forum.

The second session addressed sponsorship with Paul Hemberey Motorsport Director, Pirelli; Graeme Lowdon President & Sporting Director, Marussia F1 Team; and Pablo de Villota, F1 Sponsorship Manager at Santander

As usual, liveblogged, so mistakes possible

Motorsports Business Forum Austin

Q: So Pirelli, what was critical to bring you back?

PH: as a biz,a global business. It is unique as goes around the world. it happens every year, has focus in markets where Pirelli has interest. So fit is there. So we make tyres, not the most exciting. You don’t tell your friends you have bought some tyre.s To try and make them black and round. Pirelli has worked hard at marketing and branding, Try and looks at cool, sporting, prestigious. etc. ALl key for brands. That was a key driver. As we have changed biz strategy, to be leading in premium tyre,s to dominate in 2015. Biz focuses on prestigious manufacturers around the world, we work with the and F1 allows us to qualify that position, leader in segment.

Q: have you seen volume in sales, in OEM contracts…

PH: yes, complex, taking from sport to final sale. OUr brand value has grown (use interbrand) in 6 months, grown 300m. Has seen significant brand growth on end users and doing analysis F1 has had an impact. It is very strong. They are strange role of sponsor and tech support. We were asked to make more interesting racing, make talking points. FOr tyres, challenge, no car ever wins with tyres but they do lose., Or you have problems. Hard to sell that you make the difference. Worked with Nick for years., had to sell that we won champs with tyres. A hard sell to convince the public you had a major impact. Found that they talk about the tyres, as part of tactical decisions of weekend, we have our profile to increase presence, that gives value to us as a business.,

Q: so Graeme, tough business, sponsorship

GL: yes, but guess everyone here has tough challenges. We live in tough market place and we were a brand new team. We were effectively a start up business in 2009…when we got entry Jun 12 2009 we had a 2 page business plan and a successful Manor team. Had bought through a lot of drivers on the grid. We had a lot of experience of racing, but highly competitive market place and build strat to ensure funding. The tyres require money so have to generate income and as a new team can’t do it by asking people to play for stickers. So we create a business ecosystem around the team. Have large organisations that are partners, eg Virgin group was one of the first. Could take that association and start networking and as we got more, we could create more of a theme. A challenging team, We have not scored a point in 3 years, not a bad thing..that is the pinnacle of what we are in…if you could come in and win then reflects bad on spot. We have to balance the entertainment and costs..have to work together. to supply that. The TV coverage, we get 1.2%. Not an asset we can sell. Look at a lot of the sponsors, they do biz s is beneficial from B2B,. A different approach. In first year, brought a lot brands that had none been, and that they stuck with us.

Q: Santander, 2 teams and 4 races. Talk through relationships

PV: how do we manage both teams…have to switch the T-Shirts and jackets. From t he sporting point of view..very interesting, McLaren vs Ferrari is biggest rivalry. Amazing the different teams how they works etc..they are very close on track Amazing to see diff ways of working,not one better than the other. We start in 2007. With McLaren, good decision, started with big programme. Had to learn, we were new in sponsorship areas. It came as part of big rebranding global process. Decided in 2004 to go to single brand as so many benefits of single brand worldwide. We realised there was no better platform than F1, particularly as popular in key markets. Brazil, UK, Mexico and Spain, US, Germany, Poland. Had option of football or F1. The reason was obvious, to sponsor soccer..in UK, if you sponsor Liverpool rather than Everton..the animosity is issue. Don’t sponsor teams due to polarisation. We decided F1 was the best platform to work with. Our decision, after being with McLaren, go to Ferrari gives more flexibility with opportunities. You have so many opps to activate, more than other sports, than with Ferrari..eg in US, F1 not that popular, but Ferrari is aspirational and popular. Interesting..opens up new markets…also with Ferrari they have aspirational brand…but also have passion of fans, fans painting faces in red, like with soccer. The best of both worlds. When we started, we decided to maintain link with McLaren due to Uk being second biggest market it was important to carry on the elements. When decided to carry on rebranding in 2006, we went from unprompted of 9% to 90% just though McLaren in 3 years. It is easy to track, you can follow trend. When we do British GP, with big moments of McLaren, you can track how the trend is going up. associated with F1 and proper sponsorship package.

Motorsports Business Forum Austin

Now for Audience Questions

Q: Interested in qualitative benefits…but media metrics? hard numbers? looking at and how this gets reported. Comparative to TV etc, are you being asked to deliver that.

PH: have quite sophisticated fo measuring TV, one of easiest. Struggle with printed and internet based conversation, struggle to take in everything that is going on. There are lots of bloggers etc that do that. You have to be aware,t here are positives and negatives, you can say what you want unregulated (online..bloggers) but you can monitor what people think you are doing as a brand. If you do things, it is online very quickly.

Ian: Repucon…$10 per 1000 viewers per 30secs exposure?

GL: we are less orientated to more traditional metrics. There are lots of well utilised services. But one of the key challenges, look at future of media, huge changes going on…more trad channels become fragmented, more difficult to analyse in comparable way what is going on. Article in WSJ should advertisers measure delayed transmissions 3 or 7 days. Look at new media. A challenge for industry to come up with metrics…that are relevant. For us. our success is simple, the financial success. We subscribe, but don’t play as big a role in executive thinking as building our role as F1 team

PdV: ongoing battle in every sponsor. With tv fragmentation, decline of print, a personal view that it is not fair just to consider ROI just measurement as media. YOu get so many benefits. How do you measure the # of models that Shell has with Santander on. or Ferrari sell worldwide. The reputation is important and how the sponsorship, the investment of scholarships helps. Key elements for a company like us..ROI is often about media impact, but need to take in other measures.

Q: Can you measure difference between product and driver (eg is driver is the one who is important in sponsorship).

PdV: so Lewis has been the best ambassador for Santander. Going to Mercedes. THe driver is important, the sporting hero, the people that fans are paying their tickets for. But team is very important, we have best example. Before Alonso., F1 not popular in Spain. Looking at research, Ferrari was as powerful as Alonso..when we had opp to so Alonso merchandise with Santander….no value unless with Ferrari. IN UK, with McLaren, with opp for merchandise with Lewis alone…or with team…did not get full impact on own. What makes important is the bond…Ferrari insist the team is first.

GL: a bit of a catch 22 for F1 teams. It is the ultimate team game. THere is no other sport that has teams have quite the size. But the drivers are the heroes. The Teams works towards winning champs..you build the currency of driver, but they may go to race for rival. An interesting side effect. But fair price to pay for best team sport tin world

Q: do you share out? Or geographically specific

PH: we do find national interest driven by driver. So big interest next season with Perez. If Ferrari winning, Italian TV figures. Working with Petrov, does have huge impact in Russia. Local hero can drive interest. Would love to see US, Chinese, India etc. But also important for teams. Not ness all the big teams are good at marketing, some of the smaller out in a lot more effort and innovation and that can be successful. You have to create a system that is sustainable for all the teams. Thinking of rallying, there were teams that were not wining but still managed to create excitement. So F1 need to do this, create excitement for all teams. We see a lot of new circuits. Some new are suffering. coming into Austin, the enthusiasm is great..we are not saying that as we are here. We want to be coming back, it is important to create sustainable events as well and as a sport we have to look more into

Q: for GL, about Maria de Villota. Can you talk about the crash from marketing…

GL: Maria is a very valued member of team, well liked. Why was she in team? We offer a rare selection of services, only 12 F1 teams. Maria a good racing driver, had a career, like most drivers. Most reach stage when cannot progress further…to progress you have t learn a set of skills..you can’t jump into a an F1 car..

Q: do you think Danica has what it takes?

GL: saw Danica in junior, had great reaches, chose to take her career in one route and it has been successful. Back to skills needed…extremely complex. Maria was immersing herself in a rare environment and learning skills of trade. Accident was unfortunate…still a real part of teams, was personal setback for team. There in professional capacity, progressing her career in difficult sport. The hollywood version, you go out dancing then jump in car next day..a million miles away. Complex and highly technical. Unless you understand the complexities nad how to interact with engineers, the team…she was doing a great job of progressing in that area.

Q: F1 has spent a lot of time marketing itself…curious from a fan persepctive…so much said about F1 needs to do a better job of selling itself? Is there a unified approach...

GL: It may sound simple and it is. Listen, Listen, Listen and then do something about what we have heard. Have spent a huge amount of time talking to people, In street, restaurant, at FotaForum..These events are so important…you have to listen to me but I want to hear from you as well about what is important in your biz for F1. We have to satisfy a demand and biggest mistake is to assume we know what the demand is. We have learnt things, fascinating to learn of different perspectives.

Ian: Feels very different in Austin. Asked in Houston in customs about coming to for F1. instant excitement

PdV: when they city embraces the race, it is a completely different thing. F1 wants to be seen as the first motor racing series in world. F1 has done the right steps…the show that we are having this year is unbelievable. Different teams winning, away from top teams, other teams winning races. Think FIA has done right steps and the show is much better

GL: agree completely. I flew in through Dallas, the customs guy was coming to race etc. Giving people access is something we try hard as a team..but eveyone we met was coming!

PH: being aloof is an issue..in US they like an event, not just turn up on Sunday, not just about the race, about being entertained. See in Melbourne, Canada, Silverstone for other reasons. All the signs that the enthusiasm created..great…it is clear coming in that there is an event going on, that there is a lot of enthusiasm, we can tell the difference, Whatever is being done to start with, then clear great start

GL: the fans are very well educated on the sport. You would be surprised how many markets that know there is something but they don’t know the sport, the nuances. That is something the teams value.

Nov 15

Motorsports Business Forum Austin: Nick Fry

The Motorsports Business Forum holds regular events around the business of Motorsports (unsurprisingly). The latest edition was held in Austin, where there were 200+ attendees, most of them local. I went along to listen to teams and sponsors talk the business of F1, rather than the sport, which was the topic of the previous day’s FOTA Fan Forum.

First up was Nick Fry, CEO, Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team who talked about “The Opportunities and Challenges Facing Formula One”. Nick gave a talk and then opened the floor up for questions.

As usual, this is liveblogged…so mistakes are possible!

Motorsports Business Forum Austin

To frame things..will talk about our team, but numbers apply to front of grid. All published numbers. Team is 500+ people, You can’t buy the car, you can’t buy the major parts. the rest have to be designed and released themselves. Have to do it every year. about 4000 drawn parts every year. Have about 200 people to design, 200 to make and everyone else is indirect. Budget is quite large. Spend $200m a year, around that. as there a re so many people, the technology. the speed. start designing in July, design and dev to Christmas,when start making, ready to go in end Jan, test for a couple of months, start in Australia in march, race through to Nov in 20 locations. For those in auto industry, who may thing they take shortcuts…in Ford etc would take 3 years min, then do they cut corners…the reality is that the teams design use IBM system Petia…the same as the cars company. Runs on SAP on start to finish, same as nay big company. Pay for it…50% from partners, have a number of premium companies associated…(he named a few)…The other comes from promotion of sport. The profits are split, depends on performance..( 3 year basis). 100m+ the race, significant audience on a global basis. For major corporations…eg countries, who want to advertise globally, there is nothing like it globally. Not dissimilar to Olympics or World Cup. Significant marketing opp…it tends to be national sports for many, very little has reach globally.

LEads to first opportunity..travelling around the world…we are good at going into emerging economies early on and getting a high level of interest early. We have been adding new venues regularly. That number will continue to grow. substituting for European events. Russia, easy to see in Mexico, huge demand for races, amplifying the marketing benefit. SO an example, in India, Airtel, they decided to sponsor the one race for Mercedes. They did an ad for the sponsor, got 2.5m views of video in the 2 days. ANother thing, unique, is technology. The people who watch are interested in the tech behind the car…tech is important and what we need to do is to combine tech with entertainment. Have loyal fans…with us and for us..but to get numbers then have to make it appealing, have to get to outer areas of bullseye. The tech spins off to other others, not just auto. There are about 45k people who work in associated areas, highly paid, tech jobs, significant job.s The spinoffs are into defence, space, aerospace. THe tech on cars, the composites, the electronics, the engine, the telemetry,have done a lot of work in energy recovery…is being used to sell into lots of other areas of business. Eg train industry and fly wheels. Buses using hybrid tech. In our own case, the energy recovery system, going into the SLS Mercedes car. Next version is purely electric, all the tech developed with help of F1 team. There is a direct spin off. The F1 engine changes in 2014. going for a 1.6l and turbocharge and energy recovery, 10x power of system in cars now. Important to make tech relevant to what can be used in outside world.

Challenge. Like most sports, problem with costs. THe money is difficult to raise, Teams at back..and middle…are struggling. Need to bring down costs. The benefits of winning are huge..so people spend vast amounts of money to be successful, to get more tv and publicity. PLus making tech relevant, and FIA trying to do this. A few years ago, making engines with 21k RPM, could not find home for those engines. So things like DRS, allow overtaking, keeping excitement with passing.

Lastly, why Mercedes in F. The product development benefits. Not just the teach but the process of developing car in 6 months. Plus to sell cars, Merc successful, supply 3 teams with engines at moment, plus demonstrating the tech advance of cars and that comes through in market place. So far this year, Merc number 1 market (2 last year, after Germany). Have about 23k people in US working in it. Important that successful here, so thanks to Austin…have a great springboard for future so great business opp.


Question: So huge amount of car experience, and yet Merc world titles are with smaller teams. Are there framework with smaller teams that make it easier?

NF: so issues that we face are similar to a big corp taking over smaller one. danger that kill golden goose with kindness. Diff to get balance with large corp given money resources and not smothering them with too much kindness and bureaucracy. THe people who are in small companies are there for a reason…the nimber, fast etc…the secret is to preserve autonomy and provide the support but let them get on with it.

Question: with quick decisions, etc, what challenges are there to managing expectations at Mercedes group level. How do you act small as part of large.

NF: the want to preserve uniqueness Bopard say have all this stuff…you take what you need but will not impose anything in you. They say have what you like, if you want to use sim tech, then do but they won’t come and tell us what to do. A difference to how Merc have behaved and other car companies. So performance is our doing and not Mercs.

Question: how do you feel about Hamilton joining you?

NF: feeling inside team was positive…we have had one of greatest drivers working with us..in age terms, then reaching end of team..to do well in f1 need to have the best..and best drivers. IN my view, Lewis, alongside Alonso, are the 2 best drivers. Vettell may be in that group and have alway had best car..and he has to prove it in my mind. Alonso done exceptional job. Lewis in category of giving him not quite the best car and can still deliver. THis has given pressure, as Ross has to provider the best car..he can win in not quite the best…nbut still have to bridge gap.

Q: (Red Mccombs) What are you concern about in a new venue.

NF: it’s all around the enthusiasm of the town. If you ask them in F1 which are the favourite, what the place, most will say Melbourne…plus Montreal. Because they are sports town,s everyone supports, there are bands, activity, people com in as great towns. The whole place gets abuzz. The circuit is important, but most important is the venue…you can normally see from early in gestation whether it will be successful..,but think Austin has got off a very good start…get reaction that people want it to succeed, they are friendly, the right kind of town…maybe theplaces we have raced in were not tourist, towns that people want to go to. Especially if embraced from business not just circuit.

Q: what happens to old cars?

NF: some go to sponsors..(as part of deal), some go to MErc). They can’t run or do anything with it, looks nice . The rest go to show cars…Will eventually go to second hand market.

Q: you mentioned the tech..can you add colour to FIA limiting driver track/accessibility and they are moving to simulations

NF: we are doing what is reflected in mainstream automotive…in Ford we made loads of prototypes, to get in plenty of experiences. Very expensive, something that car manufactures are sims. Final test to be physical, the rest on screen, rig, sim. F1 in the same direction, because it cuts costs. Have several as drive in loop simulators…a very expensive playstation on steroids. Sev million pounds. Driver sits in chassis. It moves around a little. most us has an understanding of the inputs needed. It is a rather dull job, darkened room, with screen. The driver has to believe they are in the environment, to get their brain around it. Such is the resolution. that most top teams will also run a sim in the uK at the same time, and doing resolution. Wil run sim during evening to find more info, most drivers spend lot of time driving round. a lot cheaper and many cases more accurate with other variables. That’s an areas where we and MErc work strongly together. Have fed off that to the f1 sim and vice versa

Q: How does the IP participate in funding the future car.

NF: kind of gentleman’s agreement that they don’t patent. Thor is an underlying undercurrent, about protection is not the sense of what they are trying to do. More practical, takes too long to protect,,,as teams copied in 3 races. Most races have got people employed that just look at other teams, Copying does not really work unless you understand the physics, you have to know what it is doing. IN terms of hybrid, the Williams have done great job with flywheel system on cars etc…prob is patented. There is stuff that may have a home elsewhere…

Q: you were discussing marketing opps…plus enthusiasm of city. WOuld you consider a US driver racing as part of marketing activities?

NF: we would consider any driver regardless of who they are….as long as they are a fast driver. Historically some team shave taken a driver for financial reasons and it can backfire if not successful….if took a US driver for marketing and not successful, then does not reflect well. Not on radar if can’t drive fast.

Q: when f1 started, safety not a concern. How do you find safety, does it hinder dev, or in direction, or in maintaining..

NF: the safety of everyone critical. incidents are one things and part of excitement but no one wants to see another hurt. Driver is relatively well protected..reduce whiplash, safety cell. Bigger concern is bystanders, marshalls etc, bit of wheels. Spend lots of time and energy in this. Certainly adds to cost but not inhibits..have improved a lot in last few years, lots of money. but think it is necessary. Some of the energy absorptions very interesting, going into road car. AN added dimension which is important.

Q: How many are in team that you bring?

NF: bring 65-70 people. about 40 directly involved in car, plus marketing, catering, support functions…that’;s where a lot of the expense is. Move 24 tonnes of equipment. Some of the bigger venues, eg Singapore..one of the sponsors had 400 guests…

Oct 29

Fan Ambassadors

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been having fun making and promoting this video, to enter a competition fun by James Allen on F1 for a trip to Abu Dhabi as part of the Shell (and Ferrari F1) Fan Ambassadors programme. I find out whether I’ve won next week – if you like what you see, you still have until Monday to make a comment on the JA blog post 🙂

Posted in f1
May 12

Linking, TOS and Copyright

Yesterday and today, I’ve been having a fairly passionate debate over Twitter about the rights and wrongs on linking to resources on websites. As Twitter is not the place to set out arguments properly, I thought I’d write it up here.

Craig Scarborough (scarbsf1 on Twitter) writes a very good blog looking at the technology of F1. He looks at the photos that come out of the various races/events and tries to explain how the cars work, new changes etc.

After the Turkish GP, he tweeted a few comments about things that had been happening. Many of these tweets, contained a link to an image, illustrating his point.

Scarbsf1 Tweet

He was called out by Sutton Images (@suttonimages) for ‘using’ the image and that doing so was a copyright infringement

Sutton Images Tweet

I support copyright, it’s a needed legal framework to protect content/creations and allow the creator to derive value from them – therefore create a business or make a living. However, I’m fundamentally against some of the stupid, outdated, complex and idiotic implementations of copyright law, many of them driven by commercial considerations of organisations. My own images are usually licenced under Creative Commons, which relies on copyright to work; occasionally I reserve all rights depending on the image. But I’m not trying to make a living from it as Sutton Images is, so rightly that company manages their rights carefully.

However, Sutton Images were challenged by many about his point of view. It was pointed out repeatedly that linking to an image is NOT a copyright infringement (although there have been attempts in various legal jurisdictions to argue that it is, it hasn’t really stuck). As the Terms and Conditions on formula1.com state:

You may make a copy of this content for your personal non-commercial use only, provided that you keep all copyright and other proprietary notices intact and you agree not to modify, copy, reproduce, republish, upload, frame, post, transmit or distribute by any means or in any manner, any material or information on or downloaded from the Site including but not limited to text, graphics, video, messages, code and/or software without our prior written consent.

So I can download an image from the site (or take a screenshot of the page) and keep it on my computer but I can’t do anything with it.

But all Craig did was link to an image. There’s no copying taking place, there’s no reproduction, it’s a link to a resource on the formula1 site.

But further down in the Terms, you find this

…links can only be made to this Site with our prior approval (please email admin@formula1.com for further information). Deep linking is prohibited.

So, Craig has fallen foul of this clause in the Terms and Conditions. What he has done is deeplinked directly to the image URL so all you get on the webpage is the image. There’s no context, there’s no copyright licence and no way (unless you look at the URL) to determine who owns the image. This is not a copyright infringement, but it is against the site terms.

Now, very few sites actually have this restriction in their Terms, so there’s rarely a reason to even think that linking to a site breaks their terms. I’ve done it twice in this article and I know I have broken their terms now, but I wouldn’t normally have checked; do you really think the site wants me to email them every single time I want to point people to their content? If that was the case, they might as well take the site offline as if no-one can link, no one can discover and I don’t think they want that. There is a completely different argument about whether such terms are actually legally enforceable, but this is not the place for that dicussion

So Craig was incorrect in linking to the image due to the site terms; but Sutton Images was incorrect in framing the problem as a copyright infringement.

So what to do now?

  • Craig could ask permission from formula1.com to link to them. The obvious thing would be to the full web page with the image, thus retaining all contextual and copyright information. However, with the site structure, this appears to be impossible; they use a lightbox so no way to link to a specific image on the page that I can see. So this does not actually help the situation, as such a link would be useless.
  • Craig could go to Sutton directly and use images from that site. Their terms are pretty friendly for non-commercial usage and his website is obviously non-commercial

    We appreciate that our material may help to back-up your own research or to augment your organisation’s promotional activities. You may use the owned material on this Website for non-commercial use provided you do all of the following:

    a) act within the copyright laws of England and Wales, or of the territory in which the material was originally published;

    b) publish the material without any adjustment which would alter its meaning or bring , its personnel, representatives, agents, clients or the subject of the material or any other person or entity into disrepute;

    c) meet the requirements of current Human Rights legislation and Data Protection Law within Europe (which rights may extend to individuals and entities resident outside the European Economic Area);

    d) publish a credit to a specific and relevant publication or website, and to any individual named author, at the foot of the re-used material; and, if reproduced on a website, include a URL link to the original article or the point of entry to that website page or to the publication’s website page as agreed in advance in writing with Sutton Images.

  • Craig could link only to images that don’t have a linking restriciton on them.
  • The best course of action is probably a mixture of these but whatever the result, I’m hoping the blog does not stop as it is a valuable resource on the web.

    Update: 10.40 12 May. Craig has just tweeted that issue is closed and sorted, so hopefully something has been agreed; I wait for his explanation

Posted in f1
Sep 16

Photo Exhibition

Thanks to F1 Fanatic, I got a couple of tickets to the preview showing of a photo exhibit of Rainer Schlegelmilch’s FQ photos. Called the Golden Age of Formula 1, it has 44 prints from the early 60s through to 2003. Some gorgeous images there, showing how the sport has changed. Well worth a visit if you like good photos, even if you don’t like the sport. Jo came along with me and decided to purchase a couple of the prints. (pointing to her orange sticker that declares ‘sold’)

The Golden Age of Formula 1: Photos by Rainer Schlegelmilch

Jul 04

F1 FOTA Fan Forum

F1 FOTA Fan Forum by Santander

You may have noticed a stream of blog posts live-blogging the F1 FOTA Fan Forum last Thursday. This was the first event of its kind for the sport, coming out of blog comments on James Allen’s website. It was first come, first served for places and 150 of them were taken up within 24 hours. I saw a lot of tweets about people travelling from UK and further to attend, but for me, it was just an 10 minute tube ride (and an understanding boss to grab an extra long lunch). Santander, the sponsors, has obviously put a lot of effort into the day, with a good lunch, I assume covering the venue and the recording and then a couple of freebies for all attending.

The day was tweeted out by many of the teams and recorded for later release on YouTube, so all available for those who could not attend. There were plenty of press there as well and it was fun watching statements made as answers to questions being turned into news articles across sports sites. I even got nabbed by the BBC to do a quick sentence into a mike (not sure what for) as did others, with a write up on Andrew Benson’s blog.

There’s been a lot of response to this through blogs and comments; given my line of work, I was probably most interested in the responses about increasing fan access through social media and the web, increasing data and behind the scenes information. That’s definitely been an influence in my liking for the sport, as it makes it far easier to understand what it going on. It’s good to see the teams will continue on this path and there is pressure to increase what is being released.

The afternoon was a bit like a typical tech event I attend, mainly male with a handful of females and had the same sort of vibe, with lots of waiting to talk to the speakers and associated F1 team members. Although I’ve never seen autographs been signed at tech events 😉 Overall, it was an enjoyable event, one I’d like to see repeated although maybe at a slightly more job friendly time – the speakers apparently hung around after to chat, by which time I was back off to work.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – New Teams and Driver Skill

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Updated 4/7: added video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

?? How are the new teams?
TF: we are pleased, we got there late, building 5 months, remarkable job. every race we have improved. we deserve to be there, we are closing gap. it has made a little bit of excitement, a few dreams come to. FOTA tries very hard to help new teams, we don’t have the resources, we may one day, but important that teams have time to build, it is good to encourage them, I fully support more testing for drivers, to get new drivers….we have been treated well.

Matt Clifford: should new teams have been buddied?
PDR: the way relationship btw force india, mclaren..when Vijay came, we could get car developed, get product form mclaren, to give best possibility to maximise this. they have had good stability, it can only improve as they go forward.

Lee Cripps: In light of passing opps the slower teams create..should there be a 2 tier championship?
MW: No. you mention Le Mans, we’re considering going back…get people enthused about the different levels…that they win the level..who caress, we are interesting in an outright win…F1 should be a meritocracy, it should not be easy. since mclaren, 106 teams went. we should accept teams can fail but create an environment in which they can succeed. Lotus are doing well…Tony will make it a success,s will develop that team. HRT and Virgin, what they are doing, to there, is fantastic, people work hard in those teams, they are trying like hell, if it was effort alone..they need to build the infrastructure..it is not easy.

Ben Dixon: as tracks are redesigned for safety, so larger run off areas, penalty is not as big over tarmac rather than gravel…what can be done?
PDR: there are arguments..at the weekend, it was a street circuit,large runoff. the new tracks have carpet, and it does incapacitate. in grass, you become a passenger..they are looking for solutions that will not compromise driver. Tarmac run off gives driver a chance to slow down

Ian Spencer: there are debates about hard driving, where line has drawn. So drivers that are pushed off the road, they are not penalised. in terms of balance, should we not properly enforce the code?
PDR: i think it is difficult, it has come up in briefings, the drivers do push it other. the rules need clarifying, especially with new wings etc. Montreal, saw drivers not penalise for actions on track….

Nick Loan: would it be fair to say it is boring as less emphasis on skill..or has it always been tech?
JC: an argument that frustrates me..there is no substance to that comment. all sport has technology involved, look at skiing, tennis etc. we have a tech heavy sport, the fact is, to use the equipment takes a huge amount of skill..the guy with higher skill level drives it better. the car is much harder to drive these days…talking to Damon in 94, when driving the latest car..he says the car are so sharp you have to be even better now. skilful drivers win championships…

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Environment

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Updated 3/7 with video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

JA: FOTA announced about cut in carbon emissions, new engine formula

Martin: Fuel allowances? reduce on year, making engines more efficient?
TF: Danger is too much testing, then costs go up, and emissions go up. Not sure how to police it…ideas that should be considered. It needs to be from tech, the tech should be relevant. should an duct be used in cars, no, but kers will. they should be hand in hand, but should not make too complicated.

Frankie Dewer: talk about environmental engine formula, but concorde finished in 2012…is there a chance for change given last negotiations.
MW: there is…this ones a good idea. The teams, manufacturers etc, we are all aligned. we did a study of our carbon footprint. the cars going round the circuit is 0.1% of emissions, it;s the other stuff. the car is a tech showcase, used to deliver tech that is relevant. it is a great test bed and accelerator to tech. as a sport, we have to look at where we are spending resource, and that is why we did a cross sport body, first body to take the analysis, publish it, commit to check it. what we have done is encouraging so far, demonstrate what we have done to date, more effort needed…a new engine, lower capacity, direct injection etc, all appropriate tech we should be showcasing, we all want to do it and need to finalise it.

Daniel Clegg: Why does f1 have this obligation, surely should do best for sport?
JC: there is a responsibility to all of us to perform tasks in green/efficient way. From engineers view, it does not matter what the ergs are, we will make the car fast..there is no downside..we have clever engineers who will develop whatever tech you point them at and seems a pop to use that dev to knock onto the car in the road, the smallest improvement in a road car will outweigh f1 savings…we are here to improve product to make it available as every day tech..the rule makers have to present engineers with genuine challenge in making car faster more efficiently. starting with less fuel is better for speed..so give incentive, they will come up with the tech
TF: it is important, there are brilliant people. if they can use brains in a way to make planet better, then they should. Everyone has to play their part, it is easy to whack industry..they should be together to make tech better.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Cost vs Innovation

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: Video added

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Joe Cardoza: So McLaren with Fduct, then copied, then FIA ban it..does this make sense.
MW: not a good example, there’s a broader story. I fought for tech, without regard for cost when starting as engineer. F1 has to be at forefront of technology, but we have to keep and sustain all the teams and it should not just be pure spending fest, there are examples where team spent and did not get results, so not just money. As an engineer, then developing things got bands, then angry. We need to keep innovative..we’ll never get it right, but we need to keep innovating, balancing cost. we need to make sure new teams, they are important to the sport, it is tough coming into sport. FOTA has achieved a few things and there is more to achieve but there are teams here that would not be there if not for cost saving drive of FOTA.
TF: down to the people who drive it, being clever and not too expensive. the sport needs new teams and innovations. FOTA is good at the balance…there is a lot of give and take and F1 is going through aperiodic of discovering of how we can work together and win together…we are finding a way of where the balance.
LC: for us, it is fundamental to keep F1 at pinnacle of technology, and transfer from track to road cars, it is important that the transfer is constant. at the moment, we have more tech on road cars than on f1. eg electronics. For Ferrari and possibility of third car..we want an option to have more teams in f1 is to have a third car for a new team, they could have a competitive car without doing an investment in tech and resources to do competitive car. this is something that should be put on the table and discussed..

James Walton: is it right that the people who design cars also design rules?
JA: info about crash tests?
JC: the rules took a step change in 1994, that brought safety to front of mind. it is impressive how much development has taken place. it never ceases to amaze people, even in industry, what the cars go through…the rules are pretty hard to meet within remit of making a lightweight car that races…a serious amount of development time is taken up with optimising the structure, you have to test and test. there is a lot of investment into this area and what you saw on Sunday is a direct testament to that work. the next level is to control speed and weight..it is impossible to make it completely safe..we are getting to point where the crash structures keep the forces down and car says safe..but forces on body still there…need to reduce weight, keep less energy..it is the big picture we need to keep control of.
MW: I think it is right, as there is not a viable alternative, F1 designers are motivated, clever and it would be impossible to find a body that would outthink their ingenuity, their design to find loopholes and boundaries. The double diffuser was not an intended piece of design, it was a loophole and that is what f1 is about to some extent. the teams do a responsible job with FIA to work in regulations. they are the only body who can sensible work out ergs
LC: the whole F1 community should thank FIA about safety job

James Bernado: the role of test driver is restricted, is this frustrating, or will it develop?
PDR: the teams are as frustrated as the drivers, they want to bring young guys though, bump older guys out (laughter). there’s not a lot of testing involved, the system i have, (Friday) is the best one there. We need more time in seat during winter; for dev it is a harder process, not knowing what the component will do, eg from safety.
JC: lack of testing is same for everyone…the reliability over the last few years is remarkable.. Putting emphasis back in design office, at thinking. but lack of pop for young drivers is terrible. it is refreezing to see guys coming through and see them test. that is the talent of future and the driver pool we have at the moment is in danger. the talent is there, button time in the car is lacking, you will not be in the pace. It has taken Michael time to get up to speed, how difficult for the guys next year. the guys making diver decision are not very patient with young talent, they get 6 months, not enough….when Alonso arrived he had had a few years in a F1 car.
MW: cutting testing was right at time, we need to ease back now. teams don’t what others to get more time then. we need to change approach and find ways to test more…
LC: It’s like a football team, frustrating if told you cannot train more than once a week, everyone wants to train as much. we were too emotional cutting the testing, (personal view) we need to rethink the situation, an opportunity to make F1 closer to you…as only opportunity is race weekend, then problems with ticket prices, so an option is testing sessions eg in Silverstone, Monza. JOck would love to have testing, Michael himself..

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – The Overtaking Question

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: I’ve added the video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Christopher Nolan: F1 has reached a turning point, FOTA has won concessions, FIA under new management. Circumstance, luck and tech. is it diff to find solutions to overtaking. Can the rules be relaxed to allow this?
MW: A popularise view that we should have more overtaking..in first few races we did 39 takes, largely due to the fact we made a hash of qualifying if too much overtaking, then intrigue goes away, quickest guy at front etc. Media has a little too much of a fetish about overtaking..we are doing some things, rear wing next year, the regulation that accompany it are critical and not enough through yet, eg proximity sensor seems sensible to work with. we need to try and be prepared to say we are wrong and pull bank, not what we do traditionally, we run into them, heave to experiment, people want F1 to be meritocracy , what quickest driver,/car, wants a little unexpected to happen, we’ve had fanatics races, a good championship fight.
PdR: the drivers are keen to overtake, but the safety involved; they don’t want to see what happens in US, where all slip stream. you want to see people taking after mistakes. FOTA have come up with some good ideas, but we need to address it…

Q: It used to be about braking, now it’s about slipstream..why not make braking harder.
JC: Understand, but the level of driving is so good that these guys do not make mistakes, there is still a distance…they will hit it on the nail every lap, and there is only one racing line and unless you are on it, you can’ go faster enough. It’s not tech, brakes etc, it’s the drivers. We have to come up with ways of circumnavigating the skill level, without going away form the skill. we don’t want situation where it is pointless to defend..I like a 15 lap dinging when they never overtake then a simple overtake, Watching CH defending himself is fantastic. We have to be careful not to lose what we have this season.

John Elvey: How can you use tyre supplier to enhance racing?
LC: the combination of Montreal was special, normal choice of tyres, (same as Bahrain), we had a different surface. it is difficult to say more difference, as we have to keep in mind safety, don’t need to push random. it depends on Pirelli what they what to do and will look with engineers to go this direction but not too far.
JA: one safe tyre and one edgy tyre.
TF: threes should be a real difference…more strategy. i hope they are different and have an impact on race.

Josh Piggot. Not the amount, but the opportunity, Reducing grip and increasing mechanical grip is seen as best way..what is the best way to follow through corners.
PdR: Canada was quite special, bit were close on performance…but degraded differently. as a driver, you lose downforce, as they close up, when things work, you can follow closely..what they did last year has improved and it will improve next year.

Q:Frank Durney: Have to agree we have had a great year,..we should not change too much,,we should use tech and knowledge to do this. never seen that more mechanical grip gives more overtaking. If so, then worst races in wet..sims show that grippier tyres would have lot of overtaking

Zachary: Surely it would be unfair to give on;y the following driver the ability to adjust wing, better with all
JC: don’t have a strong opinion. we need to think to understand the implications. what we tend to do, we tend to pose a change on the format we see at the moment, we need ot look beyond that, to where they will all develop, what are the engineers going to go. what the implications are. I don’t know if that is the solution. we have to be careful how we go about this, I would have said lets try this..but with season we have it would be a shame to go the wrong way and give us another problem, we need to think and let brains think about,
MW: we give our drivers a variable rear wing and other teams don’t like it. We need to option, we can’;t design in last minute and we have to be careful of how to deploy it.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Fan Experience and Show

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: I’ve added the video from the event

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Q: Daniel Hughes. What are FOTA doing to reduce cost of GP? YOu did say 12 months ago (I think) that you were doing something to reduce costs but they are no less this year.
MW: Don;t recall making statement; but may have! regrettably the teams have no control, in a direct sense, but clearly cost of tickets..is high and prohibitive…there are GP that we go to that aren;t fully attended. is an issue. t do with traditional model of F1 and will come up as a recurring theme. as a business model, sold as expensively and venue as expensive as can. the money has been prong into teams and parts of sport..we need to be more engaged and today is a small example, we need to consider show and that there is ale, we need tt do something different and engage in new media in a way that has not been done. a lot of pop to improve, don;t n=know who to do quickly. the concorde agreement, comma agreement, we the tams have to re-negotiate and I hope her eis emphasis on reinvesting, to a greater extent in past.

Alex Hurley: In recent tines, F1 has been about improving the show in fans. but how do you bring new people, lack on continuity make it difficult. for people new
TF: new rule can befit as everything starts form beginning,t here could be too many. there are lots of fiddling around with many things and complicating. a good start to season, lot of exciting thing.s right direction, there are too many and it could be complicated for plan. the aviation does it’s best to complicate and F1 does the same. it would be good to simplify and get it down to racing and there is an effort on FOTA to make it fun

Robin Martin: Distribution of rich real time data evolving?
JC: From engineering, it is all about data, dev, making it faster. From a geeky POV I’d be all for this data, there are lot of people out there who would love this, when I watch a race, i have it all evolving, info you can pick out a glance, it would enhance their viewing. Ir timing pages, telemetry (a subset) it can be looked into. you don’t have to use it, you can just watch what is going on. there are a lot of who appreciate tech and viewing enhanced greatly. it would add a level of understanding for those who would want to. Like my Mom, who understands it, can’t see why SCH is stuck t red light. It’s not that diff and we should push it
LC: we should ask for the media, to them to explain to the fans, to explain what is going on. my own experience, in Valencia, following it,listening to Italian TV commentator, btw lap 9 and 10, assumed they did not understand, I had to explain why and what was happening. It is important that the media have more access and later on, explain what is the reasoning. so need to put pressure on .

EM: Can you see F1/FOTA extend social networking to get fans involved.
TF: Got t2 devices, one for red bull and one for lotus. It’s already started, I felt it was inclusive, so myth more that could be shared. I could listen to radio via Skype, wouldn’t it be good for fans to follow. the more open we are the better, more transparency, explain it better..I still don’t understand the safety car rules. All in favour of it. All teams have twitter and all embrace it. Teams follow each other, we need to get more out. there is more tech that will make it more interactive, fun, make it more interactive.
LC: it is not that the teams don’t want. we have to consider agreements that put limitson usage of info that have available, we would love to put radio on sites, we are limited on this. We need to keep this in mind, for 2015, for new F1
MW: long way to go, only a few years ago we spent 100sk encrypting radio so they could not listen. we said they had to stop and share. now it is available to FOM, they get it all, they can get it all and broadcast, if juicy and salacious they generally do.. we are in a commercial relationship, FOM is the commercial arm. we get wrapped knuckles occasionally for being too open. no lack of will, we need to evolve and it will, but may be not as quickly as you like

Q: Regarding Fan experience, with penalties after race, it changes results is this detrimental?
JC: very frustrating, from coal face, my everyday work is shortsighted, looking at what it does on next lap…it is frustrating form my point and I don’t know full situation. we need to get hold of, too many instances when tv goes off and it changes…that can only detract from the experience. On subject of info flow, the media have argued..they say that if this much available, it sort of detract form how exciting and spontaneous. Having the info available, you can see what people are doing, eg canada with Red bull on wrong time and say if that is there the fans will switch off. the fans like to have an in-depth knowledge…if info available you can make own judgements, if you are proved right then you are engaged.

John Porter: Views on expansion on calendar..will it be adverse if more than 20 races. Is there a balance in races?
MW: 20 races is a lot, should not go more than that. that’s 60 days..don’t think product is one you need greater exposure,. we should not grow, we need to respond to commercial pressures though. for new markets, the US is clear and obvious, we have not conquered. a huge market, they have an particular outlook on sport not ness shared. F1 has made a hash of it, not consistent venue. not developed/marketed outer there We need to be there, east and west, 5 year programme, there is an pop and there is room for both. with Europe, we must hold on to the British, Italian, Monaco,
TF: 20 is fine and we have to work them. too often, they re just thrown on there and we don’t put enough effort..all have to contribute..Turkey could be huge if we put effort there. It needs to be global. there needs ot be proper marketing, form all, we should be working US early, to get the anticipation. there has to be a lot of marketing and lot of hard work