Bratches and Brawn layout vision
Sean Bratches and Ross Brawn have outlined their vision for moving away from the control of Bernie Ecclestone to overhaul the circus and give spectators something more modern for their money.
The two have been appointed managing directors for the commercial and sporting sides respectively. The way the sport was run by the self-called dictator Ecclestone who was reluctance to delegate and controlled the whole sport. Bratches said “There will be a point in the season…where we start to effectuate change. We are going to be very aggressive. We are going to try new things, all in the spirit of better serving Formula One fans.”
In the short-term it means building up to the race weekend, adding in entertainment and events along the lines of SuperBowl week, exploiting digital platforms and building fan engagement through social media. Long term plans include more races in ‘destination cities’ and in America.
Brawn says he has a three and five-year plan on the sporting side. He says “It has to be slow burn because of contracts that run to 2020 but he is looking at everything from the format of races to how the sport should look and sound.”
He says to change the engine the sport would need a five-year timescale.
It’s already clear that the three main aims are levelling the playing field, allowing smaller teams a chance to compete against wealthy manufacturers, and keeping traditional races on the calendar.
Adelaide investigating return
Adelaide City Council is to request the South Australian State Government to look at whether the country’s Grand Prix could return to the city. Local media are saying the council last night said it would like the South Australian tourism minister Leon Bignell to look into the viability of a bid for an F1 race.
The city held the first championship round until the race moved to Melbourne in 1996. The street circuit is still in use. Councillor Alex Antic told local media “There’s a certain nostalgia that the Grand Prix brings and I think everyone in the room is old enough to remember the halcyon days so I’m glad that the council will write to the State Government and at least indicate that we’d like this explored.”
However, Bignell has already played down the reports and said the report are infuriating to the council and people of the city. He said, “If they want the Grand Prix, how about they put in some money so we can get the grandstands up a bit quicker, which will make their ratepayers happy.”
“Let’s have a look at Bathurst — their council put in $6 million in the [Supercars] race. These clowns put in $50,000 and charge us $100,000.”
The Australian Grand Prix Corporation to run the race in Melbourne runs until 2023.
McLaren capable of winning, if they had Mercedes power
McLaren’s Eric Boullier says the team would be capable of winning if they still had Mercedes power. The British team gave up Mercedes engines three years ago to reunite with Honda in an exclusive partnership for the start of the sport’s new turbo era.
But its not been a happy few years, and recently tensions have seen the partnership hit rock bottom following a tough winter testing when they finished second bottom of the timesheets and recorded the fewest number of laps.
Asked directly at Barcelona by Spanish publication AS if he believed McLaren would be winners if they were armed with Mercedes power, Boullier replied: “I think we would.”
Pressed whether he meant in 2017, Boullier reiterated: “Yes, we’d be winning again.” The Frenchman’s remarks follow remarks by Fernando Alonso, who gave a damming assessment of the teams form in testing.
Alonso said “We have only one problem which is the power unit. There is no reliability and there is no power. We are 30kph down on the straight.” The Spaniard is in the final year of his contract.
Alonso’s future out McLaren’s hands
McLaren admits the future of Fernando Alonso is out of their hands if the team continues to struggle. The team is facing a race against time with the unreliable engine from Honda and the opening race of the season just ten days away.
The team have struggled to do mileage in winter testing because of the difficulties with the engine, this all on the back of reports the relationship between the two is at ‘breaking point.’ In addition, fresh speculation that Alonso could walk away if his frustrations get too much.
Alonso’s contract runs out at the end of this year, and he has already indicated that he wants to stay in F1 for 2018. Racing director Eric Boullier to Spanish media that Alonso needed a car that makes him ‘happy’, otherwise there is a chance he could give up on the project.
He told AS “There are always a lot of stories about this. Fernando is being honest with us, just as we’re being honest with him. He first wanted to see how the new car was. And how the new regulations are. And I think he likes the new F1.
“He wants to be competitive because he has talent to show the world and to himself.
Renault ask for clarification on oil burning
Renault says they ask for clarification from the FIA over burning oil as fuel was not an ‘attack’ on any of its rivals.
Ahead of the first pre-season test at Barcelona, the FIA responded to a request from Red Bull to enquire whether, for a power boost, teams could cleverly burn oil as fuel.
The team has suspected that Mercedes had been exploiting this to gain an advantage in qualifying to get a boost. Managing director Cyril Abiteboul has welcomed the move because it closed down something others were potentially doing but because it ensured clarity of what was allowed.
Abiteboul told Motorsport.com “Clarification of regulations is always very important, whether it is suspension or whether it is fuel systems, but also oil. We are right now in the period of the year where you have lots of traffic [communication] going around – that is important.”
“We were not attacking anyone in particular. But we needed to make sure that it is clear to everyone, and it can be properly monitored and also enforced that fuel should remain the primary combustible used in F1.”
He says that “whether you burn oil for lubrication or as a combustible is something completely different. What we feel is that we need to be extremely clear about what should be the spirit, and we need to be clear.”
Mercedes have denied the rumours for years and was cleared by the FIA following the FIA investigated the oil tanks of some cars at the Canadian Grand Prix for extra additives.
Don’t count Red Bull out yet – Webber
Channel 4’s Mark Webber says his former team Red Bull, should not be judged on their low-key performance in winter testing because the team has never been interested in winter “shadow boxing”.
Red Bull are expected to have an aggressive rate of development through pre-season. However, the team brought a limited amount of new parts for the RB13 and struggled with a series of reliability issues with its Renault power unit.
Ferrari stole the headlines during testing, but the former Red Bull Driver says it wrong to write off his former team at this point. Speaking at the launch of the networks 2017 coverage, he told ESPN “When the grandstands are empty Red Bull are never interested in getting involved in the shadow boxing.”
“That’s typical of Red Bull, I wouldn’t read anything into winter from them. Unfortunately, the mileage wasn’t great, that’s the only thing we can read into that, pace-wise it’s impossible to read anything.” Webber says, however, the needed to do a phenomenal job on aero to claw back the engine performance.
Webber says the performance of Ferrari hints at how the operation is performing away from the race track. He said, “ Ferrari were the surprise, even though there was shadow boxing to a degree, operationally they look very good.”