F1 must “maintain its integrity” while creating better races – Brawn
2018 F1 season
9th August 2018, 12:58
Formula 1 mustn’t sacrifice the integrity of its racing as it strives to produce more exciting action, says motorsport director Ross Brawn.
The sport’s commercial rights holders Liberty Media is planning a major overhaul of the regulations for 2021. But Brawn says preserving the sport’s character is a vital goal.
“If you wanted to measure success for us now it would be to maintain the integrity of the sport”, Brawn said in an interview for F1 Fan Voice. “That’s very important, the quality of the sport.”
However while doing this Liberty also wants to “increase the engagement of the public in Formula 1, increase the enjoyment of the fans – the existing fans we have.”
“Increase it in a way that maintains the integrity of the sport. But find ways of engaging new fans in different ways or make them more aware of what Formula 1 is all about.”
Brawn said one example of how he thinks the sport should not be changed is the format of the races. “A one-and-a-half to two-hour race is right,” he said.
“I always believed that and interestingly in all the discussions we’ve had with fans a large percentage agree.
“You watch a football game, it’s a couple of hours. A major sporting event has to have substance. I think the duration of a Formula 1 race is right. I think we need to get more action into a Formula 1 race.”
The sport has also discussed extending the points system to cover the top 15 or 20 drivers. Brawn said it’s important they pick a long-term solution.
“We’re having a discussion about points system at the moment. It’s a big decision to change it. If we change it, it needs to be left alone for 10 years, we don’t want to keep messing with it.”
While Brawn believes the championship needs to become more competitive, he is against making F1 a single-specification series. He described it as “a fabulous collection of technology and human competition.”
“That’s what makes the sport so unique. Great drivers need a good car, they don’t necessarily need the best car. But then you can get average drivers with a fabulous car.
“That’s part of the wonderful dynamic of Formula 1. But you need to keep that at the right levels. You can’t have the technology ruling everything. And I think if we had all the same cars and the drivers being the variable, that wouldn’t be right either.”
Brawn said he wants to improve the competition in F1 through technical and commercial changes.
“I think the bigger things we’re trying to do is create cars that can race each other properly. The cars certainly at the moment can’t race each other properly. We’ve had some good races because there’s been events that have happened during the race: a Safety Car or crash or whatever has brought the cars together and they’ve all been on different tyres and suddenly we’ve got great action going on.
“What I want to see is that when the cars are in similar circumstances: same tyres, similar age, they’re able to race each other. Because you can’t race each other at the moment. The aerodynamics are so critical that when one car gets into the wake of another then it’s very difficult to race. You get circumstances where at the beginning of the race there’s some action, then it settles down, and then unless something happens then there’s not a lot of racing going on. And I want to improve that. That’s where we’re going with the cars.
“Connected to that is the sustainability of the teams, to give the teams a better commercial base. What that does is it makes it more competitive. If we make it more competitive we close up the field. We want to limit the amount of money and resource that a top team can spend in Formula 1 because that is pulling them away again.
“So the broad aim is a much more competitive field of cars that can all race each other very closely. We can have great racing in future. But to do it with integrity. We don’t want to start using artificial means to improve the racing. It needs to be good at its core.”
Posted 09 August 2018 - 16:05
Posted 10 August 2018 - 14:45
F1’s latest audience drop is ‘down to pay-TV move’
2018 F1 season
10th August 2018, 10:11
A drop in the number of people watching live Formula 1 races has been blamed on the sport’s move towards pay television deals by CEO Chase Carey.
In a Liberty Media corporation earnings conference call this week Carey admitted the average viewership of F1 races had fallen by 4% compared to last year.
“That is largely due to our move from free to pay television in Italy,” he said. “Excluding Italy our television viewership is up 3% year-on-year and our Saturday viewership for qualifying is up even more.”
Italian pay television Sky Italia took over the exclusive live broadcasting rights for the championship in a three-year deal beginning this season. F1 is moving increasingly towards pay television deals in other markets, such as the UK, where Sky will also have exclusive live broadcasting rights from next season.
Carey said F1’s viewership has increased elsewhere, including the USA and China, “where viewing figures are showing particularly strong uplifts.”
“Fans reacted positively to our enhancements in cameras, sounds, graphics, and other elements in our broadcast and we have more to come,” he added. “69% of our fans say F1 TV coverage has improved while just 13% say it’s worse.”
He admitted there had been some problems with the launch of the sport’s over-the-top direct streaming service F1 TV, the introduction of which was postponed from the Australian Grand Prix to the Spanish round. “This year’s priority is get the product to where we want it to at this point in time to really give it a proper commercial launch next season,” he said.
Posted 16 August 2018 - 14:56
Villeneuve has yet another hot take – but this one’s worth listening to
16th August 2018, 12:56
Jacques Villeneuve is a Formula 1 world champion, IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner.
Even when he was racing he was known for his trenchant views. Nowadays he does much less racing – aside from a spot of rallycross – and so it’s the opinions which stand out.
This is a driver who was once hauled before the FIA World Motor Sport Council for daring to criticise then-president Max Mosley’s plan to enforce narrower cars and grooved tyres. None of Mosley’s 1998 innovations have stood the test of time, so perhaps Villeneuve had a point then.
He has another point now. No surprises there. But it’s another good one.
The problem, now as then, is that while Villeneuve often articulates reasonable views in an articulate manner, this tends to be drowned out by his headline-grabbing forthrightness. Everyone remembers he got in trouble for calling the 1998 rules “shit”, few recall his more nuanced criticism of Mosley’s ill-conceived plan.
He also exaggerates. Last year he accused Lance Stroll of producing “one of the worst rookie performances in the history of Formula One”. On a grid populated by too many dull PR robots – even more so than in Villeneuve’s time – this kind of hyperbole stands out like peroxide hairdye (another Villeneuve trademark).
Is Villeneuve’s Stroll trolling motivated by anything besides a low regard for his countryman’s talent? A recent interview for the official F1 website indicated it might be. Villeneuve, who has four children, explained why he isn’t encouraging them to take an interest in following his – and his father’s – footsteps.
“It’s not something I really push or emphasise to them because I don’t see it as a good career choice anymore, because you almost need to be in the ranks of Stroll to get into racing,” he said.
The cost of getting through the lower ranks of motor sport means F1 ends up with a diminished pool of drivers to choose from, Villeneuve believes.
Villeneuve vs Stroll: Is the champion’s criticism tough but fair?
“It’s not talent that drives the force of drivers getting into racing anymore. They are spending €200,000-300,000 just to go in go-karts to have a Formula 1 shot.
“And there the money makes more difference than the actual talent. So if already at 12, 13 years old the money will make the difference, the talent will never get through the ranks. So you’ll [only] get the best out of the Formula Two drivers, the best of the rich kids, you don’t get the best talent available on the planet.”
Villeneuve isn’t the only person sounding the alarm over the growing difficulties faced by aspiring F1 drivers who don’t have millionaire parents. Lewis Hamilton, who came from a much more modest background than most of his current rivals, drew attention to this recently.
Of course Villeneuve had the advantage of name recognition when he made his way into F1 22 years ago. But he argues that the economic circumstances were different then, making it easier for drivers without substantial backing to make it to the top.
“Back then you could still make it,” he said. “You still had tobacco sponsors that were helping. I don’t know if you remember all the racing schools in France, Winfield. Most French drivers – Prost and Panis – got into F1 through those schools. So you arrived there, get a little bit of money, and it was a challenge, all the way to the finals. If you won you got a seat in Formula Ford, Formula Three and if you kept winning then you kept being followed.
“That gave kids who had a lot of talent and passion, but not the means, even if it was a small chance, a chance. You don’t even have that today.
“You have to spend €300,000 for karting? Come on. It shouldn’t be Christmas every day. You should be able to live in a tent and figure out a way to be good enough and go through the ranks until the point where you have enough image that a sponsor or team will take a chance on you.”
Yes, Villeneuve is a walking factory of hot takes and headline-friendly opinions. That doesn’t mean they’re always wrong.
Posted 21 August 2018 - 18:09
F1 wary of creating DTM-style satellite teams – Steiner
2018 F1 season
21st August 2018, 8:18
Dieter Rencken and Keith Collantine
Formula 1 is wary of potential problems if smaller teams become ‘satellite’ arms of richer operations, according to Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.
While only Red Bull has a dedicated junior team, Toro Rosso, its front-running rivals are increasingly relying on engine customers to run their development drivers. Mercedes placed Esteban Ocon at Force India and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc drives for Sauber.
The smaller teams are becoming increasingly dependent on their larger rivals. Mercedes was involved in Force India’s BWT sponsorship deal and Ferrari’s sister brand Alfa Romeo now supports Sauber.
There are concerns this could increase the power of F1’s richest teams and leave the sport vulnerable if one of them leaves. In the DTM, where each team is linked to one of three manufacturers, Mercedes’ impending departure has put a third of the grid in jeopardy.
However Steiner says F1 has anticipated the dangers of smaller teams becoming increasingly dependent on the front runners.
“Everybody’s aware of it,” said Steiner. “I think there will be measures put in place that that doesn’t happen.
“It’s not something which nobody thought about, then after two years: ‘Woah, I never thought about this’. Everybody is actually quite worried about that. So I think there will be measures put in place that it cannot happen.”
F1 owners Liberty Media intends to introduce a budget cap under future regulations to ease the financial pressure on F1’s smaller teams. Steiner said they are looking at how such a limit on spending could be enforced.
“There is talks now with the [chief financial officers] of the different teams with the team from FOM that is looking after this to find a method to do this technically. Because that will be the problem, to technically control it.”
Posted 22 August 2018 - 20:50
Formula 1 Management intends to introduce a budget cap in a series of stages, beginning with a “soft” cap which will come into force next year.
This will pave the way for the introduction of a full budget cap enforced in the regulations by 2021. This will put a “ceiling” on the amount teams can spend, according to its managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn.
“With the FIA and in consultation with the teams we are progressing well on the economic initiatives,” he said. “Work on the mechanism of a cost cap is going well.
“At the moment we are looking to introduce it in a soft form, with dry runs in 2019, and 2020 and then it will be become regulatory in ’21. I would say that barring some last-minute discussions that’s pretty much finalised now.”
The cap is expected to be set at $150 million. “The ceiling won’t be achievable for all teams, but it will reduce the differential between the teams that are at that limit and those that aren’t,” Brawn added.
“At the moment I think a top team spends twice what a midfield team spends and if we reduce that margin to around 10 or 20 per cent, then there is something for the midfield teams to aspire to. There will still be an aura around the big teams, but a midfield team doing a great job will be able to compete.”
Brawn admitted the plight faced by Force India, which went into administration ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, shows F1 must take action.
“We only have to look at the situation Force India finds itself in to understand how crucial this is. The financial burden on teams is not sustainable in the long term and we are taking steps to put a limit on how much a team can spend.”
Posted 28 August 2018 - 17:56
Formula 1's rear wings are set to be raised higher next year and the position of mirrors changed as part of a raft of measures that have been agreed to help improve driver visibility, Motorsport.com has learned.
The FIA has been looking into the rearwards vision problems caused by the current generation of cars since the start of the year.
Its work accelerated after a near miss involving Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the Austrian GP.
An initial push to impose changes for the Singapore GP was abandoned, but discussions with teams in technical regulations meetings (TRM) have now resulted in a raft of tweaks to the rules.
These changes still need approving at F1's next Strategy Group meeting and at the FIA's World Motor Sport Council before being put in the rules, but this is likely to be a formality.
The new rules will include the raising of the rear wing by 50mm in order to create a bigger window of visibility between the lower surface of the main plane and the top surface of the sidepod.
Furthermore, a more prescriptive mirror position will be laid out in the rules – with them being lower and more outboard to ensure they are situated in a better place for the drivers.
There will also be more stricter rules on mirror mountings to try to ensure teams do not put performance gains over safety matters.
The debate about the need for a change in the mirror rules resurfaced at the Belgian GP when during final free practice an unsighted Stoffel Vandoorne was accidentally pushed off the track by Valtteri Bottas, who said he could not see the fast-approaching McLaren driver.
When asked by Motorsport.com about how bad the current mirrors are, Bottas said: "For me, I think it is a bit more difficult than it has been.
"The main thing is the position of the rear wing, the size of the rear wing, and visibility for the mirrors. The wing is blocking part of the visibility directly back."
The planned raising of the rear wing will come at a time when F1 is already introducing a package of changes to help overtaking – with the rear already already set to be wider and deeper to make DRS more effective.
Jbt sad su ih spustili i prosirili, dogodine ce ponovo da ih podignu i suzavaju. Tu se vidi koliko nepromisljeno se ulazi u sve ove promene pravila. Ko zna kakav ce problem sebi dogodine na naprave.
Posted 31 August 2018 - 14:19
A draft of Formula 1’s 2019 calendar has been revealed, with the same 21 races as this season being held but a number of date changes involved.
New contracts for the Japanese and German races ensures all 21 rounds that were on this year’s calendar are scheduled to take place next season, which will start in Melbourne on March 17. In an even later finish than 2018, next year’s finale will also be held in Abu Dhabi on December 1.
The first of the date changes sees a triple-header avoided, with France and Austria paired together before a standalone British Grand Prix followed by the back-to-back of Germany and Hungary, with the latter taking place on August 4.
That extra week of racing before the summer break means the Belgian Grand Prix — which also signed a three-year contract extension this year — will be held a week later on September 1, with Singapore being turned into the first part of a back-to-back with Russia later in the same month.
The Japanese Grand Prix is a standalone race before a date swap between Austin and Mexico that sees the Mexican Grand Prix held as the first of the pair on October 27, with the United States race at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas a week later on November 3.
Races in Miami and Vietnam that have been lined up for future years are yet to be included on the calendar, with Miami currently working on a 2020 debut.
The full calendar is as follows:
March 17 - Australia - Melbourne
March 31 - Bahrain - Sakhir
April 14 - China - Shanghai
April 28 - Azerbaijan - Baku
May 12 - Spain - Barcelona
May 26 - Monaco - Monaco
June 9 - Canada - Montreal
June 23 - France - Le Castellet
June 30 - Austria - Spielberg
July 14 - Great Britain - Silverstone
July 28 - Germany - Hockenheim
August 4 - Hungary - Budapest
September 1 - Belgium - Spa
September 8 - Italy - Monza
September 22 - Singapore - Singapore
September 29 - Russia - Sochi
October 13 - Japan - Suzuka
October 27 - Mexico - Mexico City
November 3 - USA - Austin
November 17 - Brazil - Sao Paulo
December 1 - Abu Dhabi - Yas Marina
Posted 05 September 2018 - 15:03
F1 to increase planned budget cap to $200 million for 2021
2021 F1 season
5th September 2018, 8:45
Dieter Rencken and Keith Collantine
Formula 1 has revised its plans for the budget cap which will be introduced in 2019, setting a new ‘glide path’ which will start at $200 million.
RaceFans has learned from a high-level source Liberty Media the original $150 million target won’t be reached until 2023. The cap will fall from $200m in 2021 to $175m in 2022 and $150m the year after. These figures are expected to be adjusted for inflation.
Not all team expenses will be covered by the cap. Among the exclusions are driver salaries, the largest individual pay packet, and expenditure on marketing and hospitality.
The final details of the budget cap plan are still being worked out, including what kind of sporting penalty will be imposed on those who violate the spending restrictions.
Several F1 teams have argued strongly for the introduction of a budget cap and warned their future will be threatened if one is not introduced.
“What we need to achieve in this sport now is absolutely fundamental for the very survival of certain teams,” said Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams during the British Grand Prix weekend.
“I don’t think that should be underestimated or taken for granted, the challenge that some of us are facing at the moment because of the circumstances in which this sport has arrived at over the past few years.
“It is incredibly tough for teams like ours and it shouldn’t be underestimated how important these new regulations for 2021 are in the influence that they could have over our teams’ survival.”
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said a budget cap is necessary to help customer teams challenges their factory-backed rivals. “Until that comes in it’s fiscally almost impossible to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari,” he said.
“If we had an unlimited budget or their size of the budget we’d be doing the same thing, so they’ve done an outstanding job, but now they’re spending so much more than the rest of us, then they also have partner teams which not only benefit the partner teams who are doing an excellent job but it’s also benefiting Ferrari and Mercedes having alliances with multiple teams.”
Posted 12 September 2018 - 15:48
F1 'ticking timebomb' now exploding with 2018 dramas - McLaren
By Jonathan Noble
Published on Wednesday September 12th 2018
Formula 1's 'class split', Force India's near-collapse and Esteban Ocon's uncertain future show an F1 "ticking timebomb" is now exploding, says McLaren CEO Zak Brown.
He believes the growing performance gulf between the top three teams and the rest of the grid, plus Force India's recent financial trouble and the danger of rising star Ocon not having a 2019 seat, must encourage F1 owner Liberty Media to push on with its radical '21 revamp.
"We have all seen it coming, and I don't envy what Liberty inherited because this started a while ago," Brown told Autosport.
"Bernie [Ecclestone] had control of it and was keeping it together, but it was a bit of a ticking timebomb, and now some things have exploded.
"I've said this to [Liberty], and it is not nice, but sometimes you need things to actually break to be able to fix them.
"The mortgage crisis, and the financial crisis, are good examples. Banking today is a lot better because of the financial crisis. And anyone in the financial industry knew it was going to eventually break.
"Unfortunately, some of these things that have broken were necessary in order to be able to hit the reset button.
"I have never thought that F1 is too big to fail. But I think the industry as a whole has an arrogance that it will just take care of itself, it always has.
"I can't tell you how many times I have heard 'it will always fix itself'.
"Lehman Brothers went under and that was the start of fixing things [in banking].
"Whether it is a racing team, or a driver who should be in a seat and is going to end up being on the street, those are going to be things that we need to take notice of."
While a major engine rules overhaul for 2021 is looking unlikely because no new manufacturers are interested in joining, Brown hopes that plans for a budget cap and new car regulations do not get watered down.
"They need to get it done this year and we have been talking about it long enough," he said.
"They have got all the right ideas, they have had all the input from the teams, they know where the resistance is - they just need to do it. They own the sport.
"While there are things they cannot do in 2019 and '20 because of the governance, it is a clean sheet of paper in '21, and they just need to do what they say they are going to do, and be hard about it. And if people don't like it, they can leave the sport.
"I do believe Liberty wants to do what is best for the sport, but those teams that have the ability to spend above the budget cap are going to see it as a disadvantage to them.
"But they should have enough confidence in their racing team that they shouldn't have to be dependent upon money to buy their success."
Posted Yesterday, 01:35
MEDLAND: Could this fix F1's young driver problem?
By: Chris Medland | 5 hours ago
Apparently, there just isn’t enough space on the Formula 1 grid to go round.
Does Esteban Ocon deserve a seat next season? Yes. Should Stoffel Vandoorne get a second chance given his stunning junior career? I’d say so.
But then, as popular as Kimi Raikkonen’s move to Sauber proved to be last week, that’s one seat that could have been earmarked for a young prospect that instead has been taken by a 38-year-old former world champion. And, let’s be honest, the excitement about two more years of Kimi has very little to do with his on-track performances (as solid as they’ve been this year), and far more with his trademark ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude to every part of the race weekend that doesn’t involve actually being in the car.
As a cult hero who can still deliver strong results and has plenty of experience to call upon though, you can certainly argue that he is a good fit for a Ferrari-powered Sauber team looking to build on impressive progress this season.
Kimi has been moved on because Charles Leclerc was knocking on Ferrari’s door. Similarly, Pierre Gasly made himself hard to ignore for Red Bull this season, meaning Carlos Sainz will move to McLaren to reboot a promising career that was in danger of plateauing. Unlike Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso felt like he’d had enough of F1, opening the door for a tremendously promising talent in Lando Norris to step up.
But Norris is looking less likely to enter F1 as the Formula 2 champion thanks to the extremely impressive Mercedes youngster George Russell, who is also more than worthy of a place at the top table. As is their nearest challenger Alexander Albon, who today signed a Formula E contract after starting the year without the means for a full-season deal in F2.
There are more drivers that you could argue deserve to be in F1 than there are seats in the sport.
One way of looking at it is that this is the self-proclaimed pinnacle of motor racing, and therefore only the best 20 drivers in the world should be on the grid. You’re 21st? Tough.
But that’s not a realistic approach, in any walk of life. Even if you could accurately rank drivers from 1-20 (and beyond) in order to make sure the best get a seat, there is so much more than raw talent that is important in the real world. Not to mention the fact that it would make things really boring if there were no arguments over who is the greatest.
Kimi’s imminent return to Sauber is popular, but potentially closes a door for a young talent. Image by Tee/LAT
Let’s take the Lance Stroll example. One of the top 20 most naturally-talented drivers in the world? Probably not. But then ‘natural’ talent doesn’t always convert into a career, and drivers develop courtesy of the opportunities presented to them. If you haven’t honed skills in junior categories, you won’t just step into an F1 car and compete.
Aside from the fact that Stroll dominated F3 – doing the job regardless of how good the tools were – and has an F1 podium and a front row start to his credit before the age of 20, his presence in F1 has provided a massive financial boost to a struggling Williams team, and now played a part in Force India being rescued from administration. If those teams had disappeared, opportunities for drivers would have become even fewer.
The money being put behind Stroll is driven by has father, Lawrence, much like Sergio Perez had financing from Telmex, Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull or Lewis Hamilton from McLaren. In the most basic terms, drivers are investments. They are backed because the entities behind them believe they are good enough to make it to F1. But it is the long-term motives that differ.
In some cases – usually when a company is involved – it is because the driver will help provide global exposure to their brand or business. If they go on to be a champion, even better. On the other hand, a team investment starts with a belief in the potential that the driver just might win a title in future.
Ocon falls into the latter category, which led Toto Wolff to get very angry at the lack of an opportunity for the Frenchman next season. The Mercedes boss even suggested the bigger teams should be allowed to run third cars in order to bring through young talents.
Not for believing that Ocon should get a seat next year. But in feeling that he is entitled to one just because he is good.
Last week when it was suggested Wolff could release Ocon to allow him to further his career, he replied: “Not in a million years, because one day he is going to be in a Mercedes and win races and championships, and show all the others out there that they made a mistake.”
A rethink on third cars might help Williams to get Kubica out of a team shirt and into a racesuit. Image by Bloxham/LAT
But therein lies the problem. Ocon is a Mercedes young driver, and therefore an investment in future Mercedes success. So why should another team do the development work for Wolff if he doesn’t deem Ocon good enough to drive a Mercedes yet?
There has to be a return for any other team to put someone like Ocon in the car, above and beyond good results. Will he move the team forward long-term? No, he will be taken away when Mercedes wants him. Will he bring with him the additional finances that other drivers will, which in turn helps the team improve? It appears not.
Renault and McLaren’s respective U-turns over Ocon are understandable, because they now both have a pair of drivers that are their own and can build around them. For seats further down the grid, Wolff needs to back his horse just as much as sponsors do theirs.
Or rethink his third car suggestion.
Adding a third Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull would just make life so much harder for the smaller teams to score points. In turn, that makes it less attractive to try and fund a driver’s career through sponsorship, because the exposure is going to be even more limited when the top nine positions could be locked out by the biggest three teams.
Flipping the situation on its head though, the bigger teams could invest in their young talent by paying the bottom teams from the previous year to run an extra car and give young drivers more opportunities.
Take the example of Williams, currently en route to bottom of the constructors’ championship this year. A third car would provide added data to the team as it tries to recover, and allow it to run youngsters that bring a financial incentive as well as a more experienced driver such as Robert Kubica to help that recovery.
To avoid customer team arguments, using the example of the top three the rule could stipulate the constructors’ champion’s driver drove for the eighth-placed team, second in the constructors’ went to ninth and third went to 10th. Of course, a team could decide not to place one of its youngsters in a seat, but that would open up the opportunity for the team that should have received a driver to use the position as it sees fit.
Expensive for the big teams? No more than running a third car themselves. And on top of that, it redistributes money in a far more palatable way than at present. Add in more opportunities for drivers in F1, more cars providing more action and a structure that helps the smaller teams improve – therefore making the whole field more competitive – and there are plenty of beneficiaries.
The biggest downside could be trying to find the extra garage space.