With Formula 1’s first visit to India now in the books, the pack shuffle on to Abu Dhabi and Brazil for the final two events of the year.
Not that it was noticed, things other than the Grand Prix occurred over the course of the weekend, mainly at Williams and Lotus.
Several staff changes have also been announced since the spring, including the hiring of Mike Coughlan who was last week moved to the position of technical director in place of Sam Michael.
This week former Diageo CFO Nick Rose joined Toto Wolff, Mike O’Driscoll and Eddie Charlton as the company’s fourth non-executive director. Louise Evans becomes Finance director following several years as Financial Controller.
There may well be many more changes to come over the next few months, including a key driver change that could signal the end of Rubens Barrichello’s Formula 1 career after nineteen seasons.
Meanwhile, it looks like the primary seat will go to former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, with Venezuelan rookie Pastor Maldonado staying alongside. Reserve driver Valtteri Bottas looks set to remain in that role, although it is possible the Finn may see occasional FP1 time in 2012.
Williams also appear to be busy announcing partnerships or sponsorships – many of which are based in Qatar. These deals and alterations could prove to be a timely saviour for the Grove squad, who are on the verge of suffering their worst finish in the Constructors Championship since their first full time effort in 1978* with soon-to-be world champion Alan Jones their sole driver.
During that season, Williams managed a podium and two other points scores, picking up 11 points along the way – a feat the former Champions have not even looked like matching this year.
Next year Williams will be switching the Renault power plant, joining Red Bull, Renault and Lotus in that field.
…or should that be Lotus and Caterham? Alas in 2012, Renault will become Lotus and Lotus will become Caterham – the final solution to a mild case corporate branding disguising itself as mass confusion.
Don’t worry – this finally marks the close of the Group Lotus Vs Team Lotus debacle. If ever a situation was designed to make the sport look ridiculous, then the Lotus duo managed it with a truly sublime effort.
By the way, has anyone seen or heard from Dany Bahar recently?
Admittedly, amongst the sly sarcasm and occasional historical clumps, a modicum of sadness does linger.
Putting motor racing aside for a moment, while Lotus and Caterham are wonderful names within the automotive industry, one can’t help but feel Team Lotus/Caterham boss Tony Fernandes has missed an opportunity to create a truly Malaysian motoring brand – one that rings true to that nation and its border partners.
Outside of Formula 1, it was a rather busy week for Fernandes. After buying Caterham Cars in April, Fernandes introduced a Chinese division in July, while Caterham Cars India was launched in New Delhi last weekend.
With backing from one of India’s primary healthcare and food produce company’s – the Dabur Group – brothers Gaurav and Mohit Burman will be introducing the Caterham Seven to Asia for road use, track day and other racing activities.
Leading the operation will be GT racer Matt Cummings, who will be under the care of Caterham Cars chief executive Ansar Ali. The Seven is to be manufactured in India, with build programmes starting in the new year.
A new engineering division – CTI (Caterham Technology and Innovation) – also forms part of the Indian adventure, taking responsibility for the company’s technological developments.
It was also revealed that The Seven will be heavily utilised in Caterham’s CDX driving experience programme, alongside the Caterham Academy – a grassroots motorsport series and racing school.
This is a move that promises much should India wish to build upon the momentum left by Formula 1’s recent visit, in a way that Korea or Bahrain have failed to manage.
Caterham will also be offering a new product to the Indian market – the SP/300R prototype sportscar, also for racing. Should local interest pick up, the product will most like spread further afield.
It’s not only India where Caterham are seeing change. Young American racer Alexander Rossi will find himself back in GP2 next week when he contests the season finale in Abu Dhabi. The Californian was announced as the lead driver in Team Lotus’ driver development squad in April.
Rossi, who last ran in the GP2 Asia Series during the 2009/10 season for Ocean Racing Technology and Team Meritus, will also be taking part in the F1 Young Driver Test with parent squad Team Lotus / Caterham.
After a difficult initial GP2 outing two years, Rossi moved back to GP3 (2010) and later World Series by Renault (2011), finishing 4th and 3rd in their respective standings.
The GP2 finale – a non-championship event – takes place during next weekend’s Formula 1 visit to the Yas Marina circuit, with the Young Driver Test commencing the day after the Grand Prix.
There will probably be more of a rambling digest tomorrow, but right now I badly need some sleep.
*Not including their time as Frank Williams Racing from 1969 to the end of 1976, during which they endured two non-point scoring seasons.