Liberty should fight resistance against 2021 regulations
Zak Brown says that Liberty Media has no choice but to push back against the resistance from some teams against their plan to shake up the sports “broken model.”
The sports owners are pushing through major changes to technical regulations and introducing a new aerodynamic and engine package, as well as reforming the payment structure, in a bid to create closer and more exciting racing.
However, the sports biggest manufacturers Ferrari and Mercedes have expressed concerns about the plans. But Brown, who has been involved in the discussions with Liberty, thinks it essential series chiefs fend off their opponents.
Brown explained, “We know change in F1 is difficult, and we also know F1 today is a broken model, both as a business and as an on-track product, that is going to need to be changed.”
“Those that are winning today will obviously feel the compromise about what is happening, and those are not winning today are going to like the plan.” He says he believes that it is the job of CEO Chase Carey to push forward with what he believes is in the best interest of the sport.
Brown says that Liberty has been consistent with the vision and direction of the sport since the meeting at last year Bahrain Grand Prix, saying the focus is now on governance. As well as looking at where they strategically want to take the sport.
Speaking about McLaren’s position, he says “we are very supportive of what was presented in Bahrain and I think the sooner we can get that on the road to implementation the better. I believe Chase and Ross are going to move forward on that basis.”
“For anyone else saying that they are not aligned with it, their view is ‘we presented it in Bahrain, we’ve been working together, we’ve been consistent on where we are going so this is what we are doing.’
Loopholes unlikely in 2019 regulations
Williams’s chief technical officer Paddy Lowe says that the teams have made a coordinated approach to ensure that the aerodynamic rules for 2019 have not got any loopholes which can be exploited.
Liberty has brought forward and tweaks to this year’s regulations to increase overtaking and make them less aerodynamically sensitive when they are following each other.
However, previous regulations have led to some teams gaining an advantage by finding loopholes, one of the most memorably Brawn GP in 2009, who secured the title in their debut season. But Lowe believes ten years on, he believes that the same thing cannot happen in 2019.
He told Motorsport.com, “The teams have been quite ready and open, at least some of them, to put stuff on the table that’s then been heavily constrained. The regulations are very restrictive.”
“I hope it’s the case for everybody else, but we’re struggling to find a lot of performance out of these front wings. I think generally the teams are of a mindset that they want clarity, and not to have a lot of arguments when we turn up in Australia over poorly defined aspects of the regs.” Lowe believes that everyone knows what they are working to.
Racing Point technical director, Andrew Green believes that the regulations give limited scope for shocks. Saying “Hopefully that is a set of regulations that everyone can work with.”
“There’s not a huge loophole. There might be little ones in there, hopefully, there’s not anything massive that people can dive into.” Green says that it is a complex set of regulations which has resulted in a simple set of geometry.
Russell helped by Norris move to McLaren
George Russell says that his 2018 F2 title rival Lando Norris’s promotion to a race seat with McLaren helped him to secure a drive with Williams for 2019.
The Englishman beat Norris to seal the championship with seven wins and earn a seat with Williams, after taking back to back F2 and GP3 titles. Although Norris was confirmed as Stoffel Vandoorne’s replacement at McLaren for 2019 in early September – despite trailing Russell in the standings.
Russell had to wait a further month before sealing the first seat an offer at Williams. Asked by Crash.net, if he was frustrated by Norris earning an F1 drive before he did, Russell replied: “Not at all actually.
“Lando’s announcement so early helped me to push Williams for my drive because if I was ahead of him in the championship. McLaren believed he was worthy of a Formula 1 seat.”
“So it showed there was some great signs for myself, and it probably added more pressure for Williams to say we’ve got to go with George because he’s the guy who is winning F2.” Russell’s aim next year, along with Robert Kubica, will be turning the team’s fortunes around.
He says that Kubica and himself will be working hard to get the team into a position they deserve and then they would look at the results after that.
McLaren Valentine’s car launch
McLaren has announced they will be launching there 2019 car on valentines day, Thursday 14 February. The British team posted an image on social media, featuring two orange crash helmets inside a heart-shape, with the words “Some cars are red, others are blue. On Valentine’s Day, we’ll reveal ours to you”.
2019 and the MCL34 marks the first season without Fernando Alonso or Stoffel Vandoorne, the first time they have gone for an entirely new line up since 2007. They will be hoping that the new start will help them turn around a difficult 2018, and four seasons.
last year’s MCL33 was a fundamentally difficult car to drive, and the team struggled to identify solutions to its handling problems, which resulted in it ending the year as the ninth-fastest car on the grid on average.
Reacting to the news on Twitter, the team’s race drivers Carlos Sainz tweeted “And it will be love at first sight
While teammate Lando Norris added “I’ve finally done it guys. It’s been 19 long years but I’ve finally got my first date lined up for Valentine’s Day ???❤️? #MCL34 #firstdate #love #romance #valentinesday.”
Schumacher “founding father” of Mercedes
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has described Michael Schumacher as the “founding father” of the team’s huge success, on the seven times champions fiftieth birthday.
The German came out of retirement to join a new manufacturer Mercedes team in 2010, although his three seasons with the team only resulted in a podium. Wolff says that the contributions made by Schumacher have been felt during the last five back to back titles.
He told Motorsport.com, “Michael is one of the founding fathers of the success we have had in the last five years. There is no other driver like him and his vast experience contributed tremendously in the development of our team.”
“He played a crucial role when we re-joined F1 and was one of the people who laid the foundation for our future success. We’re extremely grateful for everything he did for us.”
Wolff who never worked directly with Schumacher, says that he was star struck when they meet in 2013. For that season Schumacher had been replaced by Hamilton, but his legacy was laying the foundations for the current success.
Teams celebrate Schumacher’s birthday
A number of drivers and teams have been posting messages on social media to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of seven times champion Michael Schumacher’s birthday.
In a tweet from Mercedes they said “50 years ago, a star was born. A star who shaped and changed @F1 forever. Who broke records, redefined excellence and helped lay the foundations for our future success. We’d like to send our very best wishes to Michael @Schumacher on his 50th birthday. #KeepFighting #Michael50”
Ferrari tweeted, “Our champ turns 50 today. We’re all with you Michael
The official Formula 1 account tweeted, “We join the whole of the #F1 family in sending Michael @Schumacher our very best wishes on his 50th birthday #KeepFightingMichael #Michael50.”
Toto Wolff, Mercedes team principal added in a statement “Michael has had a tremendous impact on Formula 1. Not only did he set an incredible record – a record that is yet to be beaten – but he also shaped and changed the sport forever. As a driver, Michael took Formula 1 to a whole new level with his attention to detail and his technical knowledge.”
“He did everything with great determination, from his engineering debriefs to his physical training, and was always searching for new ways to improve his on-track performance.”
Five times champion, Lewis Hamilton tweeted “Wishing you a happy birthday, Michael. 50 years of life and a legacy that will last forever. What an honour it is to say that I have raced with you. You’ve always been a true inspiration to me and the entire world. Keep fighting, Champ”
2009 champion Jenson Button tweeted “Happy 50th Michael. The moment I stood alongside Michael on a podium that’s when I knew I was an F1 driver. So much respect for this guy, the benchmark for a racing driver who is the best I’ve ever seen & raced against. The rest of us were there to make the racing interesting.”
FIA President Jean Todt, who was Ferrari’s CEO in the early 2000s tweeted “For his 50th birthday, affectionate thoughts for Michael @schumacher, the greatest @F1 champion in history, with unbroken records. Michael, you’ve always been a fighter and you always will be.#Michael50 #TeamMichael #KeepFighting #F1”
In a Beyond The Grid special, former technical director at Benetton and Ferrari, currently F1’s managing director for motorsport and technical director, Ross Brawn said “I think one of the things I’d say about Michael from throughout his career is that people who worked with him never had a bad word to say about him. Within the teams he worked in, he always created a great impression and a great loyalty.”
His son Mick, who will make his F2 debut this year, tweeted “Enjoy! Habt Spass damit! #Michael50 #TeamMichael #TeamMS App by @keepfighting”
His daughter Gina posted on Instagram, “Happy birthday, to the best dad.”
No direct Toro Rosso technical director
Toro Rosso has announced that they will not be appointing a direct successor to the teams’ outgoing technical director James Key because of a closer technical partnership with sister team Red Bull.
It was reported towards the end of 2018 that the two could share as many parts as possible as they both move to Honda this year. Now Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, says that the closer relationship between the two teams means he doesn’t intend to appoint a successor.
Marko told Motorsport.com, “We can’t have almost the same technical team in Faenza [Toro Rosso’s base] as in Milton Keynes [Red Bull’s factory] in terms of the number of people The concepts were worked out. These concepts [more Toro Rosso reliance on Red Bull] have not been fully implemented to this day.”
“One factor was that James Key was not so happy with them. All in all, the solution we wanted is finally there. And it was easier without James Key. The position will not be filled. The technical director, in this sense, is no longer necessary because the concept [for the car] comes from Red Bull Racing.”
F1 regulations mean that teams are responsible for designing their own chassis, but are allowed to source ‘non-listed parts’ from other teams or manufacturers, as long as they stick to strict aerodynamic testing restrictions are adhered to.
As Red Bull will join Toro Rosso in using Honda engines in 2019, the junior team will use a Red Bull-designed rear end as well as some front suspension parts.
But the team will not get 2019 parts as it was not possible for it to produce enough parts for four cars without compromising pre-season preparations, but said that Toro Rosso, which finished ninth of the 10 teams in 2018, must still target “fifth or sixth place”.
This model has been in the spotlight over the last three years because of Haas’s relationship with Ferrari. Marko said that the model of those two teams was “at the limit or over the top in terms of aerodynamics” but for Red Bull “this is a good model”.