Stroll defiant over copying row
Racing Point co-owner Lawrence Stroll has explained more on why he is “infuriated” with the accusations levelled against his team in F1’s ‘copying’ row. Ahead of first practice, it was ruled that the team had broken the rules and were fined as well as stripped of fifteen points.
The controversy has been seen as the test in the wider debate about the sharing of parts between bigger teams and the smaller teams. As well as whether teams should be allowed to essentially ‘clone’ other cars, with the Racing Point RP20 having been based on last year’s title-winning Mercedes W10.
The team were docked fifteen points and fined £361,000 after it was ruled they had broken F1’s sporting regulations by running rear brake ducts on their 2020 car that were the principle design of Mercedes. Four of the teams, Renault, McLaren, Ferrari and Williams – unhappy and seeking further clarification on aspects of the ruling, and Racing Point adamant they did nothing wrong.
The case could now be heading to the FIA’s International Court of Appeal (ICA) with all five outfits lodging intentions to appeal ahead of a Wednesday deadline to firm-up their plans.
Ahead of Sunday’s race Stroll released a video statement, carried by most broadcasters, he said “We are infuriated by the accusations that we cheated. There were rules that were some clearly defined, some less clearly defined, and we have no doubt we played within those rules.”
Put to him that rivals felt they had stepped over the line, Stroll replied: “The other teams are certainly entitled to their opinions. I think the other teams are equally as upset that we are performing very well and have a very, very strong car”
He says that it, not a coincidence that we are outperforming them and hence their complaints. But says that they need to focus on doing a better job themselves, rather than complaining. Stroll also accused the governing body of coming up with a ‘grandfather’ clause which we cannot find it existing anywhere ever before.
Comfortable racing in Catalonia despite Coronavirus spike
F1 drivers say they are comfortable with racing at the Spanish Grand Prix despite a rise in coronavirus cases in the country. The region of Catalonia where the race is being held is under new restrictions following a spike in cases.
Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas said they would ensure limited contact with the outside world. Hamilton told BBC News, “I stay at the track always so nothing changes for me. I stay in my ‘bubble’. I am only around a couple of people so I will get to the airport and go straight to my motorhome and stay at the track for four days, same as I have this weekend.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who won Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix added: “You minimise contact. You stay in your bubble. I don’t expect any trouble. It’s not only in Spain there is corona. You just have to be careful.”
F1 faces the headache of ensuring the safety of its staff while trying to get as many races into the season as possible. The sport also knows that coronavirus can impact the sport with a handful of positive cases in the last month.
F1 faces the same problem at the following race in Belgium, where there has also been a spike in cases.
A spokesman said: “We are looking forward to racing in Spain and Belgium, and as we have throughout this season, we will ensure the safety of our people and the commuters we visit remains our priority.
Vettel says he still trusts Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel says he trusts Ferrari to help him resolve the poor form that has left him lagging behind team-mate Charles Leclerc. The German was twelfth in Sunday’s Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone and tenth at the British Grand Prix a week before, with Leclerc fourth and third.
Vettel told BBC News, “It is not the best run for me but I trust the team around me and everyone in the garage. I don’t think it can get much worse from where I am so it will get better.”
He had another spin at the first corner adding to a backlog of driving mistakes dating back to 2017, and then criticised the team’s pit-stop strategy over the radio saying they “knew they had messed up”.
Vettel struggled for pace in both races and although he closed the gap at the second race, he still remained three and a half tenths behind Leclerc in qualifying. He also tried to use a set-up p with more downforce than Leclerc for the 70th Anniversary GP to try to improve his performance, said he did not understand why he was struggling.
Vettel told BBC News “We had two weekends in the same place and from Saturday morning last week I was not able to make any progress – that is the thing that stands out first.”
“Around the lap, it is a bit more difficult to judge this weekend because we ran slightly different downforce levels on the car, but it seems like a fairly even loss and mostly I struggled in the slow and medium-speed corners.” The German also says he has been more competitive with Leclerc at previous races this season.
Team principal Mattia Binotto said he did not believe the strategy had particularly compromised Vettel but that the team would work to help him improve his performance.
2021 calendar should be ‘normal’
F1 CEO Chase Carey says that the 2021 calendar that will look far more like a ‘normal’ season than the final version of 2020. Normally by now, we would have a provisional calendar, but with the Coronavirus pandemic the sport trying to finalise a revised calendar this year it has been delayed.
The only ‘new’ race on the calendar will be the Dutch Grand Prix, which was cancelled in June and the still postponed Vietnamese Grand Prix which hasn’t yet been rescheduled or cancelled. None of the races which were added this year as replacements for cancelled races are expected to remain.
Speaking to Wall Street analysts, Carey said “We haven’t announced 2021 just because the focus is on 2020. We’ve got a couple agreements to complete, where we have the business terms agreed, and we’ve got to paper it.”
“There’s been no impact on that. Those are obviously discussions that would have begun well before the virus, and it’s certainly not had any negative impact.” He says it is important to get back to normal as soon as possible.
However, Carey accepts that the Coronavirus remains unknown as we go into the winter saying it is difficult to predict what is going to happen as we enter winter with the virus. He says that the plan remains for a twenty two-race season.
But, admitted it might start later to take account of the mid-December finish anticipated for 2020: “We may make it so there’s a little more space in the front end of it, so the calendar in the second half is a little busier, and we’ve got a little more flexibility built into it.
“But I think that’s probably a tweak to it, not a real restructuring. Clearly, as this goes along, we’ll know more. And there’s always the possibility that we make some adjustments as we go forward.”
Carey said there would be no new races, except those which were new for 2020 but cancelled, will be added to the calendar.
F1 will bounce back – Carey
F1 CEO Chase Carey says that the Coronavirus pandemic has turned the business plan “on its head”, but he’s adamant that it will be back on track in 2021.
On Monday Liberty Media announced it second-quarter results, where the Formula One Group posted revenues of just $24m, compared with $620m for the same period last year, because no races took place at the height of the global lockdown.
The revenue was expected to be down and will be for the third quarter, despite the return of racing these have been behind closed doors and Liberty has been forced to wavier race hosting fees. Carey hopes that heading into 2021 the sport can start to regain the momentum that Liberty had planned since it took it over.
He told analysts, “In reality, if you go back at the beginning of this year, I feel we were actually pretty much on the track we had laid out three years ago.”
“We have been clear, we were expecting 2020 to be another significant step forward, and 2021, to continue to be a further step forward. So we were very much on a trajectory to moving, and it wasn’t going to be in 12 months, but moving to delivering the type of growth that got us to a place.”
He says at the beginning of the year the business looked on a good track as it has a predictable business model. In the future, Carey hopes they can deliver the type of long-term growth that we had talked about
Nissany to drive in FP1 in Barcelona
Williams test driver Roy Nissany will make his practice debut for the team on Friday at the Spanish Grand Prix. The Israeli driver took part in the post-season test last year and was announced in January as Williams’ test driver.
Nissany currently is eighteenth in the Formula Two championship following the opening five rounds and has scored a point in the season opener at the Red Bull Ring.
The Williams will bear the logos of Israel Start-Up Nation, which also lends its name to the cycling team that has acquired the services of four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome. The career of Nissany is currently backed by the Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams.
Last season he stepped up to F2 from the now-defunct Formula V8 3.5, winning four races.
His father Chanoch famously drove in a free practice session for Minardi in 2005 ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Williams head of vehicle performance Dave Robson added: “Roy Nissany will drive George’s car during FP1 at this event. We spent time with Roy in Abu Dhabi at the end of last year and we know that he will immediately be up to speed and contributing to the important test plan on Friday.