News Round-up: Stepney, Mosley & Malaysia

News Round-up: Stepney, Mosley & Malaysia

Ex-Ferrari Employee Nigel StepneyIt’s been a busy few days for Formula One, what with Williams and Renault taking the covers off their new cars, testing resuming at Valencia and Mosley speaking further on budget caps and spy sagas. Nigel Stepney has also been hitting the headlines today and apparently Malaysia wants their 2009 race to held in darkness. Which if agreed, might stop Bernie Ecclestone moaning about the state of the circuit.

Stepney No Longer Unemployed

Yes, Nigel Stepney has found employment with Gigawave Ltd, a company that designs and builds the cameras mounted on racing cars, including the Formula One machines. Stepney had recently stated that he didn’t want to return to Formula One with a team, and I doubt the FIA would allow him to do that anyway. He was invited to discuss with the FIA why he shouldn’t be banned from international motorsport for “a lengthy time”, but it now seems that Nigel has accepted his fate.

The position will cover all areas of Gigawave Ltd’s involvement in motorsport, including the continual development of its on-board camera systems that are used in major worldwide race series. Gigawave Ltd feels that an engineer of Nigel’s calibre and experience can only benefit the business’s future technological development. Gigawave Statement.

Let’s hope Stepney has learned his lessons from the ordeals he created and encountered in 2007.

Mosley Gets Tough On Spying

FIA - 2007 Brazilian Grand PrixMax Mosley, the president of Formula One’s governing body the FIA, has suggested that should teams be caught spying in the future, they would face exclusion. Last year McLaren were thrown out of the constructors championship and fined $100m when it was realised they had been in possession of Ferrari data. The saga that embroiled the 2007 season just kept getting worse and worse and eventually led to McLaren publicly apologising for the scandal.

However, it took time for the FIA to get to the bottom of the issues and even though $100m sounds like a lot of money, it really isn’t too much for a leading team. It is even thought that because of the way FOM is organised, the British team didn’t have to pay the full amount. But exclusion from the title race is very costly, after all, it is why these businesses exist in the first place.

You can never stop what someone has got in his head, but we can stop the transfer of information in written or electronic form.

Next time, whoever it was, I don’t think they would stay in the championship. In the case of McLaren everybody said ‘oh, a hundred million dollars’, but the alternative would have been to exclude them – and that would have been more expensive! Max Mosley.

Interestingly, Max then goes on to say in his interview with Formula1.com that he feels the FIA handled the scandal well.

I would say that we did it the right way at each stage. When we had the first hearing on the 26th of July we were all very suspicious. We did not really believe that the only person involved was Mike Coughlan, but we had to find clear evidence and there was not sufficient evidence to convict them.

Then when we had the second hearing there was enough evidence, and although we were greatly attacked in the English press I think that any objective person would say that there was quite enough.

Then when we conducted the detailed inquiry and looked at all the emails and everything then the evidence became absolutely clear and overwhelming. But the people who didn’t want to believe it still don’t believe it. Max Mosley.

I don’t understand how Max can say the FIA got it right at each stage when they clearly should have launched a thorough investigation immediately, checking emails and phone records as part of phase one. At least this way it wouldn’t have been dragged on for months and months and may have limited the damage some more.

The punishment was odd as well, with McLaren being thrown out of the constructors, but the drivers, one of which was involved in the saga, were allowed to continue. Max suggests that this won’t happen in the future, but as usual there is an air of vagueness resting over his words. Something that is typical of Formula One is lack of foresight regarding the rules and penalties for breaking the rules. The FIA made a mountain of errors during the 2007 season and these issues were not, in my mind, resolved to a satisfactory standard. But them, I’m just a fan!

Sepang Attempts To Cut Their Electricity Bill

The Sepang circuit, situated in Malaysia and home of the Malaysian Grand Prix, has asked if their 2009 race be held at night. The idea of night-racing will come to fruition this year with the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix being held under floodlights. If successful, the late-night approach could be replicated across the other races that run in Asia and Australia.

Our target is to have the race at night next year and the same consultants (as Singapore) are doing the lighting system. Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir, Sepang Chairman.

One of the best things that will come from running the cars at night will be the fact that Europeans – Formula One’s biggest fan base – won’t have to wake up at some silly hour of the morning to watch the race live. Instead, the event will shown at a more comfortable afternoon/evening time thus potentially gaining more viewers.

At last years Malaysian Grand Prix, Bernie Ecclestone was quite critical of the Sepang circuit, saying that it hadn’t been looked after well and was getting a little tired. Perhaps running a race at night time will prevent further condemnation of the track. After, what you can’t see can’t hurt you!

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6 comments

  • Ha! I think all European races should be held at night, so us Canadians don’t have to wake up at some ungodly hour! 😀

    Seriously though, I’m not so sure I would want to attend a night race in one of those countries. Imagine all the insects those floodlights would attract.

  • i went to Malaysia for the race for the past 3 years . KL is a great place to be during the F1 weekend, lots of party lots of fun … But night race on Sunday will kill the parties in the city on Sunday night … The distance from track to city and the heavy traffic will make it impossible to get to KL before Monday morning … Pls forget the night race or I will never go back for the Malaysian GP 🙂

  • further note on the Malaysian venue – I think Bernie’s talk about venue looking tired was more about getting more out of Malaysia to his pocket than about the facilities … OK, I haven’t seen the Paddock areas, but the areas accessible to public are no more “tired” than the pretty much brand new Shanghai track. Nothing wrong with Sepang (yet) except for Ecclestone’s greed …

  • @Eric: I had considered the issues night races might cause to attendees of the event, but hadn’t thought about the insects. Going to races is uncomfortable enough; crowds, plastic seats, open to the weather etc… Fair point about fans living in North America and Asia who have to wake up early to see the European races. I guess you can’t please everyone!

    @Milos: I too thought Bernie’s comments on Sepang were a little uncalled for. I’ve never visited the track, but it is only a handful of years old (8) and really cannot be too shabby yet. I think you’re right about Ecclestone’s pockets, they were negotiating a new deal at the time.

  • Milos – that, and parts of Sepang are slowly sinking because it was built on a swamp. Not that Bernie will have noticed this small problem…

    The whole “night race” thing is frustrating partly because I like the unique ambience of me having to get up at all hours to watch the series (less committed viewers can always catch a re-run) and partly because it is obvious this measure is just a cynical ploy to get more money from the TV companies and circuits. Besides, knowing ITV, making the race be broadcast at 7pm will merely lead to us having to stay up until midnight for the initial broadcast anyway, since Coronation Street and Dancing on Ice are considered more important.

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