Ferrari threatens to quit over future direction
Ferrari has threatened to quit Formula One over the future plans by the sports owners Liberty Media. Since the takeover by the US media company they have been pushing to level the sport and make the sport more appealing to fans.
Last week, Liberty and the sport’s governing body the FIA outlined the broad proposals for the next set of engines regulations. But, Mercedes and Renault has already expressed doubts about the regulations, with Honda yet to comment.
On Thursday in a conference call, Ferrari’s president Sergio Marchionne revealed he was unimpressed by some of Liberty’s proposals. He said “”Liberty has got a couple of good intentions in all of this, one of which is to reduce the cost of execution of the team which I think is good. There are a couple of things we don’t necessarily agree with.”
“One is the fact that somehow powertrain uniqueness is not going to be one of the drivers of distinctiveness of the participants’ line-up. I would not countenance this going forward.” He says that the regulations are now at odds with the strategic development of the manufacturer.
Making it clear that unless it is “beneficial to the maintenance of the brand, and the marketplace, and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play.”
Ferrari are the only team to have taken part in every season of the championship, making them the most successful team in the sports history. They have won two hundred and twenty seven Grand Prix’s, fifteen drivers and sixteen constructors championships since the formation in 1950.
It is committed to F1 until the end of 2020 under the Concorde Agreement. Ferrari has threatened to walk away many a times, but this is the first time
Teams bracing for key strategy group meeting
Formula One teams will find out at a key meeting of the Strategy Group on Tuesday, about Liberty Media’s plans for revamping the prize money structure, that is despite the issue not being on the agenda.
The commercial rights holder, the FIA and all the teams will have a meeting to discuss the latest proposals on the future regulations beyond 2021. However, only six of the teams have the power to vote on the plans with the others being observers.
Last week, the three of the four manufacturers criticised the FIA proposals for the new engine regulations. This weeks meeting will be the focus on a much bigger overhaul of the sport, with the aim of making it more competitive.
But one of the most contentious issues is the prize money structure which sees the manufacturers, plus McLaren and Red Bull receive a huge financial advantage over smaller outfits. However, reliable sources have revealed that the prize money issue has not been tabled for discussion, and instead the focus of the meeting will instead revolve around plans for a budget cap.
Liberty is believed to be determined to bring in some form of cost limit for F1 teams, and it will outline its ideas for this cap. Its understood that the FIA will not get involved in these financial discussions as it is a matter between Liberty and the teams.
Liberty wants the income spread the income more evenly between teams, is viewed as one of the most important elements for teams regarding their long-term vision.
Amid criticisms about the engine proposals last week, Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said it was important that teams understood a global vision from Liberty, including cost caps, prize money and rule changes.
However, the manufacturers have their own commercial interests to protect. With chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone suggesting that a budget cap in F1 would also not receive support from the bigger teams.
Hamilton to begin contract talks next month
Lewis Hamilton says he is planning to begin talks about renewing his contract with Mercedes within the next month. Hamilton who took his fourth world title in Mexico looks as if he will stay with the team when his contract expires at the end of 2018.
The British driver has strongly hinted that he has no plans to follow in the footsteps of Nico Rosberg by retiring after winning the title. Hamilton has already said he is motivated by future battles with Max Verstappen and says he is expecting progress before the end of the season.
He explained to ESPN “We spoke a few weeks ago back at the factory and said that we would be sitting down. It is quite and easy process for us.”
“We already have something great in place and it is really just about extending it and enhancing it and working on what more I can do for them and vice versa.” It has been another record-breaking season for the Mercedes driver who broke the all-time record of pole positions and moved into second place in terms of Grand Prix wins.
In another interview with Sky Sports, he added “I’m enjoying driving more than ever. Whether it’s a few, a couple, or one [year left in F1], I’m still going to be here next year and I hope for a little time beyond that.” But says he doesn’t want his career to be any longer than it has to be.
Despite wrapping up both championships, Hamilton says there is no excuse to lose focus, adding “The pressure is off so we should now be able to perform better than we ever have.”
Paradise Papers – How Hamilton dodged a £3.3 million tax bill
A BBC Investigation shared with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has relieved that Lewis Hamilton has dodged a £3.3 million tax bill when he brought a Bombardier Challenger 605.
The documents show that Hamilton used his offshore accounts to lease the jet which does not comply with UK and EU regulations. Hamilton set up a business on the Isle of Man to lease the jet for business purposes to avoid a 20% VAT bill. Despite the jet being brought outside the EU the IOM is a British Crown Dependency and forms a common area with the UK for VAT purposes. Because of this link, an aircraft imported via the island is granted full access to the EU.
In an email, one adviser states: “I would like to email Lewis his agreement this evening and try to reach him on the phone to talk him through it.”
Other documents show that the hourly rate of the plane’s lease was increased from £2,000 to £5,500 overnight. The company then turned a profit as a “commercial” aircraft leasing business.
On the basis of the transactions, Hamilton’s advisers were able to claim a 100% VAT refund on the £3.3m he was obliged to pay at the point of importation.
Lawyers for Hamilton said in a statement “set of professionals in place who run most aspects of his business operations and that no subterfuge or improper levels of secrecy had been put in place”.
In a statement, they said Stealth (IOM) Limited was formed to run a leasing business and hire the aircraft on a long-term basis at a commercial rate.
They added that the company made all necessary disclosures to Isle of Man officials, who approved the approach. There are more details of Hamilton’s schemes in the papers.
I did not realise how hard Hamilton worked – Bottas
Valtteri Bottas says he did not realise how hard his teammate Lewis Hamilton worked until they became teammates this season. The Finn joined Mercedes at the beginning of the season following the sudden retirement of Nico Rosberg.
Since joining the team, Bottas has built a strong working relationship with Hamilton. Speaking to Motorsport.tv’s The Flying Lap, Bottas said “I always knew he was a good driver, but I never knew how much he works. He works hard, he spends a lot of time with the guys, at the race weekends visits the factory quite a bit.”
“I didn’t know him as a person at all really, it was only what I’ve seen from the outside. This year, I’ve learned he’s a very nice guy, just a normal human being, as the rest of us.” Bottas says that the Englishman has good respect and doesn’t play games.
The Finn has taken two wins this season but admits he has struggled at circuits where the tarmac is rougher, like Spa, Suzuka and Sepang. Saying “There are longer corners, more high-speed corners where you put more energy through the tyres. On smooth asphalt, you can drive it a bit differently. So we have seen a bit of a pattern there.”
“I’ve seen a clear direction on which things I need to work on in terms of my driving style and how I set up the car on those kinds of circuits.” But added those races have taught him massively and says he confident of another step forward next year.
Hartley seals WEC title
Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley and Porsche teammates Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber have sealed this year’s World Endurance Championship after a second place in the six hours of Shanghai.
Second place was enough to allow the New Zealander to seal his second world title, after securing his first alongside former Red Bull driver Mark Webber in 2015. It means that the German car giant has sealed the constructor’s championship.
Hartley said “We definitely have had an incredibly year. Taking the World Championship title after winning Le Mans, it might take a while until it all sinks in. I’ve had a few busy weeks but sharing this moment with Earl and Timo I will not forget for the rest of my life.”
It has been the most successful season for Hartley with his debut in the United States Grand Prix.
But there is no rest as he heads to Brazil for this weekends Grand Prix, then to the final WEC race in Bahrain before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. That means he has raced for eight consecutive weekends.