Teams express concerns over Strategy group
All six teams which are members of the Strategy Group have questioned the long-term need for the body and want it to be reviewed at the groups next meeting in November.
During an informal meeting in Malaysia the six teams who the power Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Williams and Force India have written to the other two members, represented by FIA President Jean Todt and F1 CEO Chase Carey, asking in effect to open a debate.
All parties have six votes each. But while since the takeover of the sport by Liberty Media, the other four teams Renault, Toro Rosso, Haas and Sauber have been invited to join the meetings and observe, but they can’t vote.
The Strategy Group is where all regulation changes are discussed, before going to the F1 Commission, where all the teams and other parties, such as race promoters, have a vote in what many regard as a more democratic process.
As such, key issues sometimes do not get past the Strategy Group for consideration by the Commission. But the teams are now concern the purpose of the group is redundant as all teams are now attending meetings.
Another concern for the teams is that the FOM representatives Chase Carey and Ross Brawn may be aligned with the FIA more often than in the past and that thus the voice of the teams may be weakened.
Teams also are concerned that Liberty’s investment over the last year will see profits fall, meaning that they could lose prize money. Teams are now facing a shortfall of £1.5 million for 2018.
The teams now want a discussion on the implications, with questions raised such as whether the extra expenditure should be funded by new investment obtained by Liberty, or come out of the profits.
Mercedes explain Hamilton management
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has explained the team’s hands off trust approach when it comes to Lewis Hamilton, claiming that it would be detrimental to place the three times champion “in a box” would not allow him to perform at his best.
The three times world champion says this season he has better than ever while accepting that he has been focusing on other projects outside Formula One leading to him travelling more. Him missing the F1 Live event in London, placed huge media criticism.
Hamilton’s response to his critics was taking victory at Silverstone a few days later and following that up with four more wins. For Wolff that confirms that Mercedes are doing the right thing by granting Hamilton free rein.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Wolff said “The more you try to limit him – put him in a box – the more detrimental it will be for his performance. The old mentality of ‘A racing driver has to be like this or like that’ is invalid for Lewis.”
Mercedes have allowed Hamilton to speak freely, which is a far cry from when he was at McLaren. The Englishman has waded into the row between Donald Trump and the NFL anthem row, saying he could take the knee during the United States Grand Prix.
Also, Hamilton has also been posting critical video’s of President Trump online. Hamilton first posted a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. with the hashtag #takeaknee.
He then posted a picture of NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who protested racial inequality last year, before writing “If you don’t know, try to educate yourself so you can understand. #takeaknee”.
Wolff explained “Lewis is a very talented racing driver – probably the best [in the sport] at this moment in time.
Ferrari confirm no gearbox change for Vettel
Ferrari has confirmed that Sebastian Vettel’s gearbox will not need to be changed following a crash following the Malaysian Grand Prix with the Williams of Lance Stroll.
There had been fears the crash as the pair returned to the pits after the race damaged the German’s gearbox, earning him a five-place grid penalty for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Ferrari flew his gearbox to the teams base following the race and begun an inspection of the gearbox on Monday. Later that evening, reports emerged saying the team were optimistic Vettel’s gearbox would be given the all-clear.
In a Tweet, Ferrari confirmed that the gearbox would be reused, “The gearbox #Seb5 used in #MalaysiaGP is still available ??#JapaneseGP.”
Formula One regulations say that gearbox must complete six grands prix, with an automatic five-place grid demotion if they are changed out of sequence.
Vettel had received a new gearbox in Malaysia after Ferrari changed his previous one following his opening-lap retirement in Singapore.
Mallya faces new charges
The Force India boss Vijay Mallya has been re-arrested by the Metropolitan Police and appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court facing new charges of money laundering.
India has been trying to extradite the businessman after he defaulted on a £1bn bank loan in March 2016, which is related to the collapse of Kingfisher Airline in 2013. Mr Mallya denies the charges and claims he is a victim of a witch hunt.
Mr Mallya’s monetary affairs are being investigated by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation, and the Enforcement Directorate – which handles financial crimes
Outside the court, Mallya said “I deny all allegations that have been made and I will continue to deny them. I have not eluded any court. If it is my lawful duty to be here, I’m happy to be here.”
The Crown Prosecution Service said “The new charge is essentially showing where the money went to, for example, it is alleged that some of the funds ended up with the Force India racing team.”
The businessman is due back in court before next months Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with extradition hearing due on the fourth of December.
Mallya’s downfall has been long, from a playboy racing team owner to now facing money laundering charges in India. More than 4,000 Kingfisher Airlines employees went without pay for seven months before they revolted and grounded the carrier in October 2012.
McLaren face upgrade dilemma
Fernando Alonso says McLaren and Honda will face a tough dilemma if there is an engine upgrade available for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
McLaren enjoyed stronger performances r in Singapore and Malaysia, but the situation for Honda’s home race could be complicated if the manufacturer offers up new developments for Suzuka. But any upgrades would to grid penalties.
Speaking about the situation, Alonso said: “It is the home GP for Honda, so we want to do well there. We know how important that race is for the team. About 30-40% of our engineers are Japanese, so we have a big moment of the year.
“The families are there, the Japanese fans, they support a lot our team, so it is a very special weekend for us and we want to perform well. If there is a new spec engine or any improvements, that will be with a penalty and we will start last.”
US TV rights move to ABC and ESPN
Formula One is to move in the United States from NBC and NBC Sport to ESPN and ABC next season as part of a multi-year deal. Twenty-one races will be broadcast by ESPN with free-to-air network showing highlights of every race.
ABC will also show live coverage of the United States and Mexican Grand Prix’s, however, will be unable to show the Monaco Grand Prix as it has the rights for the Indianapolis 500. All races will have highlights on ABC.
NBC Sports Group had the F1 rights since 2013, but said it “chose not to enter into a new agreement in which the rights holder itself competes with us and our distribution partners.”