Mexico agrees a three year deal
Organisers of the Mexican Grand Prix have formally announced that they have agreed a new three year deal to host the race until 2022. The future of the race was in doubt after this year after the federal government announced it would no longer subsidise the Grand Prix.
However, with the help of Mexico City’s local government, the promoter of the event agreed a new deal with F1 that makes use of private investment to ensure the race remains on the calendar for another three years.
Under the new deal the race will be renamed the Mexico City Grand Prix to underline the involvement of the local government, and the city’s mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, has promised ticket prices will remain the same as previous years.
Sheinbaum Pardo added “The presence of Formula One in the city for a further three more years, was achieved for the first time through a new financing model in which public resources are not used.”
“Previously the Federal Government collaborated with the payment for the event. The Mexico City government will be an intermediary, creating a trust that will raise the private investment required to deliver this international event.”
F1 CEO Chase Carey added “We are pleased to have renewed our partnership with Mexico City, which will now host the Formula One Mexican Grand Prix until at least 2022.”
“Ever since it returned to the championship calendar in 2015, this event has always proved to be amazingly popular with the public and fans, not just in Mexico, but also around the world.”
Mexico was one of five races without a deal, and follows Silverstone in securing a new deal in July, while contract extensions with Spain and Italy are expected to be announced later this year.
Germany is expected to drop off the calendar next season, but the Dutch Grand Prix in Zandvoort will make a return along with a new race in Vietnam.
Cost cap cornerstone for new teams
Formula One CEO Chase Carey says has been talking to new teams who have stressed a cost cap and other financial changes for 2021 are “cornerstones” in terms of any future decision to enter the sport.
A cap of around £150 million, which doesn’t include areas like marketing costs and driver salaries, and the number is fixed and not part of the ongoing negotiations about future rules. In addition, there will be a redistribution of income.
The American says that new entrants have made it clear that the sport needs to provide a healthy business model if they are to come on board. He told Wall Street analysts “Clearly one of the goals in terms of the cost cap is to create a healthier sport.”
“We’ve talked about the competitive goals, but it is equally important that the cost cap creates a business model that is healthy and growing and positive for our existing teams, and potential new teams coming into it. That has been enforced as we’ve had discussions with potential new teams.”
He says everyone has looked at the steps needed in terms of cost discipline as well as a more balanced revenue distribution. Carey insists despite early scepticism, the existing teams have embraced a limit on spending.
Carey remains confident that F1 and the FIA will be able to properly police the cost cap. The planned checks on spending will be tested with all the teams in 2020, although no actual cap will be in place.
Bottas has back up plans
Valtteri Bottas says he has a ‘Plan B’ and ‘Plan C’ if he is not retained by Mercedes as Lewis Hamilton’s teammate next year. The Finnish driver is second in this year’s drivers’ championship but faces an uncertain summer break as he waits on Mercedes to decide on his contract option for 2020.
He faces competition for the drive from reserve driver Esteban Ocon, with Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff planning to make a decision during F1’s summer break. Bottas started the season well as a strong challenger to his teammate, but has slipped sixty two points behind.
The last two races have been costly, he crashed out at Hockenheim and could only manage eighth in Hungary, and although Wolff says he will not make a decision based on one-off results, Bottas faces a long summer waiting for a decision.
Following the race in Budapest, Bottas said “I’m not really nervous, but for sure it would be nice to hear some news from the team, to know what they want to do as well.”
“But what can I do? I don’t think one race is going to change anything and I’m sure we’ll get some more news soon.” Ocon has been linked to drives at Renault and Haas if he does not secure the Mercedes seat, which could also represent options for Bottas if Wolff’s decision goes the other way.
The Finn said he is already lining up potential options if Mercedes doesn’t retain him, he says that this extra uncertainty over his future is no helping with his title hopes.
Bottas says he doesn’t perform better under pressure.
F1’s profits rises in Q2
Formula One saw a modest increase in profits in the second quarter compared to last year. Liberty Media announced that rose from $585m to $620m for the April to June period, while operating income rose from $14m to $26m.
Meanwhile the teams enjoyed an increase in their combined payments from $307m to $335m compared with the same period last year, with the number linked directly to the overall revenue increase. Revenues increased despite the Bahrain GP, which pays one of the biggest hosting fees of the season, having taken place in the first quarter this year.
Seven races were held in the three months to the end of June.
Liberty Media explained the overall change in revenues: “Race promotion revenue decreased due to the differing fees associated with specific races held in the second quarter of 2019 compared to 2018, partially offset by rate increases in the underlying contracts.”
“Broadcast revenue increased primarily due to contractual rate increases. Advertising and sponsorship revenue increased due to revenue from new sponsorship agreements entered into beginning in the second half of 2018.”
It notes that revenue decreased in the second quarter because of the mix of races, resulting in lower TV production and Paddock Club revenue.
CEO Chase Carey insisted that F1 will hit its financial targets for this year. He added “F1 heads into our summer break on the heels of some unforgettable races. We’re excited by the growing competitiveness of Red Bull and Ferrari the return of Honda as a winning engine supplier.”
McLaren’s big boost from Budapest
McLaren says it has been given a “big boost” for the second half of the season its strong performance at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The British team headed into last weekends race, braced for a difficult weekend because of the e circuit’s low-speed demands not ideal for the car
But the outfit exceeded expectations with a double points scoring finish, including a fifth spot for Carlos Sainz that helped it further strengthen its grip on fourth place in the constructors’ championship.
Team principal Andreas Seidl says the progress shown, helped by a number of upgrades including a new high-downforce rear wing, helped lift confidence about the outfit’s prospects at tracks coming up on the calendar.
He told Motorsport.com, “On a track with a lot of low speed corners, where we had definitely a weakness on the car, to see now that we could cure some of the issues with the updates.”
“We are bringing and understanding the car better and better and how to use it, it is obviously great to clearly have been the fourth quickest car.” Seidl added that was a big boost for the second half of the season because of circuits with low speed sections.
While Sainz was delighted with his second consecutive fifth placed finish in Hungary, he was eager not to read too much into McLaren’s strengths in Hungary – because he felt other factors beyond the updates helped it.
He added “Maybe the Hungaroring has become a medium speed track with Formula 1 cars, because it feels really fast out there and that suits us a bit better than what we anticipated. This kind of black tarmac, as we saw in Austria and Paul Ricard, new surfaces help our performance.”
But admitted the team were surprised by result, and that there was still work to do.
Yu Zhou tests for Renault
Motorsport.com says it has learnt that Renault junior driver Guan Yu Zhou has completed multiple tests in the French team’s 2017-spec car. The Formula Two driver took part in two tests at Paul Ricard and the Red Bull Ring in June at the wheel of the RS17.
The twenty-year-old Chinese driver, who joined Renault as a development driver at the start of the year, then got a third run at Barcelona on Wednesday. Zhou is currently sixth in the Formula Two championship a number of podiums.
Prior to his first tests in the RS17, he demonstrated the Renault-powered E20 in his hometown of Shanghai in April as part of the celebrations surrounding the Chinese Grand Prix, and in July he made another appearance in the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Renault’s F1 managing director, Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com, “We have a very clear sporting target for Zhou and we think he has the ability to be one of the best – if not the best – rookies in F2.”
“So far he has had a very strong season, maybe apart from Baku, which is a difficult track for certain conditions. Every other single race, he has delivered in according to his target.”