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F1 warned it can't risk 'destructive' talks

Published in Formula 1
Tuesday, 16 January 2018 11:44

McLaren executive director Zak Brown has warned talks surrounding the future of Formula 1 beyond 2020 must not become "destructive".

Each team has an individual bilateral contract with Formula One Management tying it to the championship and these expire at the end of 2020.

Ferrari's includes the right to veto regulations as well as a stipulation it will receive a long standing payment and a constructors' championship bonus each year from FOM revenues.

Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren and Williams also receive additional payments.

Talks regarding what form the next agreements will take are ongoing, with Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne have made clear his team will pull out if the championship's future rules are not in the direction he agrees with.
"My big concern now is the negotiations for the new contract will be tough, some teams will be tougher than others and I think we know who," Brown told Autosport.

"I hope, but I'm not confident, that they can negotiate behind the scenes and not too much through the public, which I don't think's going to be the case because they already are, and hurt any forward momentum that we've now created by giving concern.

"Any time people think a strike is going to come in a sport, they start [thinking] 'well why don't you guys go figure that out and then we'll look at joining'.

"So I just hope that they are not too destructive in the negotiation process.

"Ultimately, I think it will all get done so it will be nothing more than negotiation but we saw last time where it got to in '09 with the breakaway [proposal].

"I don't think there's any chance of a breakaway but those stories will get out there at some point and they can be destructive, especially when they are not anything other than a negotiation tactic."

When asked if Ferrari's threat should be taken seriously or if F1 should risk Ferrari or another team leaving, Brown said: "No one wants that, but they [F1] have got to do what's right for the sport and I think that is what they are going to do.
"Any time you are in a negotiation you need to be prepared to walk away.

"They are trying to do the right thing by everyone, but with the rebalancing of the sport on and off track, those that have had the unfair advantage are going to see it as they are losing something and they are not going to want to lose something so I sympathise with that.

"But the sport's losing because of it and therefore they ultimately lose because we are all in this boat and if the boat sinks, it doesn't matter if you are in first class or economy, the boat's sinking.

"So they are going to have to find a balance of what they think is an acceptable compromise and they are all tough negotiators.

"Liberty is going to make a decision for what they think is best for the sport, be fair and balance.

"We all recognise that Ferrari has been the largest contributor to the sport and that has to be recognised but it shouldn't be recognised in a way that hurts the sport."

F1's 'grandmother' era is over, says Felipe Massa

Published in Formula 1
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 09:04

Felipe Massa says Formula 1 ended its era of "grandmother" driving with its 2017 cars, which he likened to the 2006-08 V8-powered machines in which he was most successful.

Massa won 11 grands prix for Ferrari between 2006-8, but ended his 16-year spell in F1 with Williams in 2017.
The Brazilian said this year's cars restored a challenge he felt had been the missing before the aerodynamic rule changes and move to more durable tyres.

"Definitely I will remember that it [the 2017 car] is nice to drive," Massa said.

"When you're just driving the car it is quite a nice feeling for the driver in terms of the G-force and the physicality.

"I think to do a perfect lap in these cars you need to be a proper driver, not like in the past where the tyres were going away or you needed to drive like a grandmother. Now you need to drive like a driver.

"It's similar to maybe 2006, '07 and '08 (pictured below) or even before that time.

"You have the car ready to accept everything so the driver really needs to risk and drive in a proper, aggressive direction."
Making his debut with Sauber in 2002, Massa raced in both the V10 and the V8 eras before the current V6 turbo-hybrid era began in 2014.

Despite enjoying the driving style of the 2017 cars, he admitted work is still needed to make overtaking easier.

"I think the only thing that needs to be changed is to understand how to follow other cars a bit better," Massa said.

"[You can have] as much downforce as we have but you need air. If you don't have air because you have a car in front you lose downforce, you lose grip.

"So definitely for overtaking, if Liberty can understand how to improve the cars on the floor or different things to manage to be able to follow cars a little bit closer it would be good for the show."
F1 bosses have recently mooted making changes to circuit layouts to help the racing, but Massa said car design was the bigger issue.

Asked if the tracks were also a problem, he replied: "Some of the racetracks, yeah. Some of the racetracks, no.

"For sure the car is more the problem than the racetracks."

Qualifying a 'big limitation' for Stroll

Published in Formula 1
Wednesday, 20 December 2017 08:15

Williams driver Lance Stroll has pinpointed his performance in qualifying as an area he needs to work on ahead of the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Stroll had some strong races in his rookie year, including a podium in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and finished just three points behind team-mate Felipe Massa in the drivers' standings.

But the 2016 Formula 3 European champion has found it harder to get the best out of the car in qualifying, trailing Massa 17-2 in the head-to-head.

Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe has said he thinks Stroll's difficulties in qualifying are disguising the progress he is making as a driver.

"Qualifying is not my strongest point," Stroll told Autosport.

"I have had some tricky qualifying sessions but also some unlucky qualifying sessions like Suzuka, I had a red flag and got blocked so I don't count that.

"It hasn't been as strong as my race pace because I'm still not where I want to be with the car and myself over one lap. I just feel like I'm still trying to understand the tyre, the car, and just get myself in the zone.

"But last time I checked, there is no reward for qualifying. Points are in the race. It's a big part of the weekend, it helps you score points but I've scored points."
Lowe has suggested Stroll's biggest difficulty is making the step up in pace needed immediately in qualifying for the first runs in each session.

Getting on top of the tyres is something Stroll feels will help him make gains in that area.

"In the race, I feel like I'm very good at that and then when I'm pushing for one lap and I'm trying to get the most out of myself and the car, I then find it's a big limitation and it's easy to go overboard and lose a load of lap time," he said.

"But I enjoy the challenge of the tyres, I think it makes good races, it allows strategy to unfold and all that."

Regarding race pace, Stroll said he is pleased with the way he has been able to get performance out of the car.

"In the race, I really feel like I'm on top of everything, I'm really good at tyre management and I'm just really happy with the balance of the car in the race," he said.

"I feel like I can just control the race really well."

No excuse for F2 outshining F1 - Lewis Hamilton

Published in Formula 1
Wednesday, 06 December 2017 12:13

World champion Lewis Hamilton says there is no excuse for Formula 1 to have cars that sound worse and produce less spectacular racing than F2 single-seaters.

Hamilton, speaking at the BRDC Awards where F1 CEO Chase Carey was also in attendance, said he wants to see louder engines, bigger tyres, and a greater ability to follow the car ahead.
He urged F1's new bosses to make the championship "more raw", and questioned why F2 is often able to provide more spectacular racing.
"From a racing driver's point of view you just want to be able to race closely like you could in karts," said Hamilton.

"Kart racing is the best form of racing still, because the guys follow each other so closely.

"The cars this year are the best they've ever been. Looking at the next step, I believe Ross [Brawn] and Chase and the teams are really working hard to make sure that the next cars in 2021, they're even more raw.

"I hope they make the cars louder. You can have bigger tyres. Why did Jackie [Stewart] have big tyres back in the day and we've got smaller tyres?

"Maybe a little less downforce, maybe we can race closer.

"There's no reason why a GP2 race or F2 or whatever you want to call it should be louder and sound better, and be able to have better racing, and follow closer.

"And that's what we've somehow got to make in F1, while it's still faster than the other classes."
The four-time champion reckons Formula 1 continues to be behind other sports such as American football in terms of global awareness, but he praised its bosses for trying new things.

"Everyone has an opinion about it," said Hamilton. "It's not about what I want, it's just F1 has been a little bit behind other sports. It's such a special sport.

"And you look at the NFL, you look at soccer, you look at all these other sports which happen to have a little bit more of a global awareness - F1 has the scope to be as big as those.

"The great thing with Chase and the team from Liberty coming in is they've really brought something new into the mix this year, whilst they're learning at the same time about the sport, and what the fans want."

Formula One: Fernando Alonso to decide future after McLaren’s Renault switch

Published in Formula 1
Friday, 15 September 2017 08:22

Fernando Alonso is waiting for McLaren to confirm their switch from Honda to Renault engines before he clarifies his own Formula One future.

McLaren are expected to announce at the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday an end to their troubled three-year partnership with the Japanese manufacturer and a new deal with Renault starting next season.

Alonso, who won his two world championships with the Renault team in 2005 and 2006, has made having a competitive engine a condition of his staying at McLaren. His contract expires at the end of the season.

The Spaniard is expected to extend his three-year stay at the team, but he was giving little away on Thursday.
"I will think what is the best option," Alonso told reporters. "As I said many times whatever I do next year is because I want to win. At the same time I want to give time to my team. After they (McLaren) take decisions, I will take mine,” the 36-year-old added.

Alonso has spent the last three years mired at the back of the field.

He scored his last win at his home Spanish Grand Prix in 2013, with Ferrari, and has scored a meagre 75 points since he rejoined McLaren at the start of their partnership with Honda in 2015.

The Spaniard has finished no higher than 10th in the overall standings in that time.
With his dream fading of winning a third world title to equal hero Ayrton Senna, Alonso has set his sights on completing the 'Triple Crown' by chasing victories in the Indy 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans to add to his Formula One title.

The 36-year-old skipped Formula One’s blue-riband Monaco Grand Prix, a race he has won before, to compete in the Indy 500 last year, with the race ending in frustration and a blown Honda engine with 21 laps remaining of the 200.

He has said he was considering offers from other series, but that his priority remained Formula One.

"You just need to be patient and wait a couple of weeks," he said on Thursday.

"For my fans and motorsport lovers they will have a fantastic 2018 season. The plan is ongoing and very good things are coming." (Editing by Toby Davis)

F1 wants more F2 drivers in GP practice

Published in Formula 1
Sunday, 10 September 2017 10:02

Formula 1 managers are evaluating ways to increase the number of Formula 2 drivers regularly participating in Friday grand prix practice sessions, according to Ross Brawn.

Several F1 stars - including Ferrari's current title contender Sebastian Vettel and Robert Kubica - made names for themselves when young drivers regularly took part in practice sessions during the mid-2000s in third cars.
But that approach was abandoned at the end of the 2006 season - although teams remained free to run drivers other than their regular competitors in practice sessions.

Using the example of an F2 driver replacing an indisposed F1 racer at short notice, Brawn outlined his thoughts that such a scenario was unwise without giving the junior driver prior running, such as a practice outing.
"Putting someone into F1 who hasn't got the experience is a risk," F1's sporting managing director said.

"You have to prepare them as well as possible, maybe doing the Friday morning practice.

"Those sorts of initiatives are important before they get exposed. If they have a problem [and] they get into F1 the wrong way, then their careers could be damaged.

"I don't think replacing Felipe [Massa, who was forced out of the Hungarian Grand Prix with illness] with an F2 guy would've been very fair, because they would've had very little time to get into the car.

"There's a better structured way of doing it, but that's the sort of thing we want to do. Friday practice - we've started looking at more positive initiatives to get the young guys to have an opportunity to drive - that sort of thing [is] what's being discussed at the moment."
When asked by Autosport if F1 was lacking a MotoGP-Moto2-Moto3 style ladder, Brawn replied "I think it is" but said the current shake-up following Liberty's takeover was "an opportunity to create that progression".

He added: "Wouldn't it be great if we had a young guy coming in, he was a star in F3, a star in F2 and then he does a [Max] Verstappen-like entry into F1.

"That's what we want to see.

"By having those races at an F1 grand prix, the fans can start to engage with them.

"It has so many benefits - commercially and from a sporting perspective - that we've got to make it work.
Brawn also outlined his belief that F2 - which is part of Liberty Media's portfolio - could be used to experiment with format tweaks ahead of rule changes in F1.

"Because we're all under the same umbrella, why would you not want to see how you can develop ideas [and] concepts?" he said.

"F2 is very committed to the reverse grid, which works very well for them, but they have some different commercial considerations, so [F1] may not necessarily follow.

"And of course they have two races which F1 doesn't.

"We've started to look at the safety car restart procedures, different grid formations for the start - things like that can very easily translate from F2 to F1."

Sir Jackie Stewart says Formula 1 needs the British GP to survive

Published in Formula 1
Thursday, 06 July 2017 07:38

Sir Jackie Stewart says Formula 1 needs a British GP and has called for government assistance to ensure the race remains on the calendar.

Toro Rosso dismayed by Perez move on Kvyat

Published in Formula 1
Tuesday, 30 May 2017 07:21

Toro Rosso Formula 1 team principal Franz Tost was frustrated with Sergio Perez's driving to collide with Daniil Kvyat and force the Russian out of the Monaco Grand Prix.


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