F1–Confused?

The 2012 Formula One season has actually been rather exciting.  Red Bull has not dominated the season from the outset and in fact up until last Sunday’s event at Abu Dhabi there, were a potential six possible drivers that could have raced their way to a driver’s championship.  Even with Vetal capturing third place in Abu Dhabi, neither the drivers or manufacturers championship is in the bag.

In fact Kimi Raikkonen took first place and brought Lotus to the podium.  This is amazing for a team that was relegated to back marker’s status just a couple of years ago.  Kimi has been away from F1 for two years and dabbled in NASCAR and WRC.  He not only showed just how good a car and driver combination that Lotus now has – he provided a great deal of amusement to the folks that were able to hear some of the radio communications between him and his Lotus engineers during the race.  Basically telling them to stop bothering him with obvious information and let him get on with the job of winning the race.

Vetal was also impressive considering that he started in last place from pit road and gained 21 positions to finish with a third place.  Amazing.

So with all this great stuff going on this season you would think that the leadership of F1 would be basking in a season that has pleased the fans more than it has been able to in the last four years and is making money hand over fist as it is returning to our shores in a couple of weekends for the first time in five years.  Instead of a cobbled up circuit based on the historic Indianapolis oval speedway, it is being held on a new track designed and built in Austin Texas called the Circuit of the Americas.

But not all is well with F1 and things are happening that would lead one to think that the leadership is working tirelessly to shoot themselves in the foot.

It was recently announced that the entry fees for next year will be substantially increased.  Last year’s fees were just shy of $400,000 for each constructor.  The new fee structure will mean that the top constructor will pay upwards of $4,400,000.  The zero point constructors will pay $500,000 each to compete next year.  Hmm, I thought the talk was on keeping costs under control.  Interesting approach.

They are also looking at receiving a $24,000,000 payment from commercial chief Bernie Ecclestone.  All this money should swell the FIA coffers.

Of course Bernie is suffering under more than just a multi-million dollar bill from the FIA.  Prosecutors in Germany are getting ready to charge Bernie with bribery.  It appears that a German banker, who has already been convicted of bribery, embezzlement, and tax evasion, claims that Bernie paid him many millions of dollars to sell his bank’s controlling interest in F1.  The former banker claims that it was a bribe while Bernie claims it was a blackmail payment.

While this season’s Formula One championships might be decided in the US or Brazil, it is not clear if this is the last year for naturally aspirated V8 engines or not.  With this much churn we may never see a US Formula One team.

Stay tuned for all the fun.

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