F1 Today – 18/08/2020

F1 Today

Teams begin to sign the new Concorde Agreement

McLaren, Williams and Ferrari have committed to Formula One for five more years after being the first teams to sign the new Concorde Agreement due to be implemented on 1st of January 2021.

The deal between the teams, Liberty Media and the FIA sets out the commercial and governance arrangements between all three parties. It is understood that the deadline was today, but the final hard deadline is the end of August.

The new Concorde Agreement is set to shake up the financial arrangements with a more equitable share of revenue to make the grid more competitive and sustainable. The agreement replaces the 2013 deal which expires later this year.

Ferrari, the only team to have featured in every season of the world championship, says the new deal will help make F1 “more attractive and spectacular”.

CEO Louis Camilleri said, “We are pleased to have signed up again to what is commonly known as the Concorde Agreement, which will regulate Formula 1 for the next five years”

“We are very confident that the collaboration with the FIA and Liberty Media can make Formula One even more attractive and spectacular while preserving its status as the ultimate technological challenge”

McLaren CEO Zak Brown told Sky Sports “Formula 1 has taken another important stride on the road to a sustainable, strong future with the new agreement. This is the right deal at the right time for the sport, its owners, its teams and, most of all, the fans.”

“A more equitable sport is better for everyone: greater balance in the sharing of revenues among all the teams and clearer, simpler governance that cuts through vested interests and puts the sport first.”

Brown says the new deal which replaces the 2013 agreement, builds on the work done over the last few months to secure the future of the sport.

Claire Williams added “The new Concorde Agreement represents a major step forward, for both Formula One and Williams. As one of the sport’s longest running teams, we are pleased to see the future direction of Formula One confirmed for the next era of racing.

“The Agreement is a major milestone in the development of Formula One, and also represents a significant opportunity for Williams to continue on our journey back towards the front of the grid.”

Last year the teams agreed to new technical and sporting regulations, however, admit the Coronavirus pandemic, some of the terms have been revised and the technical overhaul has been postponed until 2022.

Mercedes were uncertain with some clauses but sort further clarifications over the last week there were “clauses that are critical that need to be discussed around governance and certain commercial aspects”, suggesting not all team bosses were as happy with the state of play as they were claiming in public.

We will bring you more on this tomorrow


The nonsense that Mercedes involved in Racing Point copying

Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says suggestions Mercedes may have played a role in Racing Point’s bid to copy its 2019 car is “total nonsense”.

Racing Point has docked fifteen points in the constructors’ championship and fined €400,000 after it was deemed to have copied Mercedes’ 2019 brake duct design. The team openly admitted to copying the German manufacturer, by reverse engineer the Mercedes W10 in designing the Racing Point RP20 by using photographs of the car, doing so within the regulations.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said the stewards’ ruling on the brake duct case proved this claim was “BS”, and that the rest of the RP20 car also had to be questioned.

The stewards’ ruling made no suggestion of wrong-doing on Mercedes’ part, but both Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto and Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner have hinted at questions over Mercedes’ involvement.

Horner says that “If the team in question are guilty of receiving [designs], surely the team that has provided has also been in breach of those regulations?”

Wolff says its wrong to suggest that Racing Point has gone any further than using photography in designing its car, and would defend any questioning of Mercedes’ role in the case. He says that copying from photos is a nonsense argument that they have come up with.

Asked by Motorsport.com, if the suggestions made by Mercedes’ rivals was a consequence of being a leader with a target on its back, Wolff said he did not see it that way.

Saying, “I don’t think it’s related to being a leader. I think Formula One has always been the competition on the track and also the competition off the track. As hard as we race each other on Sunday or on Saturday, we also fight the political game that is important, and has always been the case.”

Wolff says that the team has a clear position on Racing Point, with the “nudging” for clarity being acceptable.

The FIA has already confirmed it will clamp down on teams trying to copy other cars through reverse engineering from 2021, allaying fears from many on the grid.


“championship drifting away” – Bottas

Valtteri Bottas says he can already “see the championship drifting away” after Lewis Hamilton’s latest crushing victory at the Spanish Grand Prix. The Finn was hoping to build towards his first title, however, has only one race to Hamilton’s four.

In Sunday’s race, Bottas could only manage third behind Max Verstappen in the same Mercedes car. That means Verstappen is currently Hamilton’s closest championship rival, with Bottas, whose campaign has unravelled after winning the season-opener in Austria, and is forty-three points behind his in-form team-mate.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Bottas said “It’s far from ideal. And I have no clue what the points difference is, but it’s way too big and I can see again the championship drifting away.”

Bottas’ race was dented by a disappointing start when he slipped from second on the grid to fourth after Turn One. From there, he couldn’t get back ahead of Verstappen, while Hamilton won by more than 24 seconds.

It was another difficult race as his championship hopes slipped further away after struggling at Silverstone. He added, “I had a good start in the first race and in every single race this season the pace has been there. In qualifying has led to signs of tensions between team and driver.

At the second Silverstone race, Vettel questioned Ferrari’s race strategy over team radio, telling his engineer “you’ve messed up”. While at the Spanish Grand Prix he chastised the team again when there was a misunderstanding over whether he would attempt a one-stop strategy or a two-stop.

Vettel used a one-stop strategy which required him to nurse his tyres to the end of the race, but when he initially suggested the idea his engineer told him to push ahead of a second pit stop. Vettel said following the race people should not draw conclusions about his relationship with the team from the heated radio exchange.

In his press conference, he said, “I think it’s normal to communicate. I think it’s very weird for you to judge because you don’t get all the radio transmissions.

“I think it’s very difficult for you to know what is being said and to get the full picture. I think it was nothing else outstanding today. It’s a lot about managing the tyre here and as I said we did the decision and we took to it.”

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto added: “I think that communicating is important, with the drivers, something that we decided together with the drivers that we should be open as we can. Sometimes questioning doesn’t mean that it’s a misunderstanding.”

Binotto believes that it is right we question ourselves by communicating, but still thinks they have made the right decisions in because we are communicating.


Red Bull still believes in Albon

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says that the team has “a lot of belief” in Alexander Albon despite his current Formula One struggles, believing the RB16 car is “not all making sense” yet.

The British-Thai driver has struggled to match the pace of teammate Max Verstappen in the opening six races of the season, Albon has described the car as “sensitive”. He recorded his best qualifying result since the opening race in Austria by taking sixth on the grid in Spain.

But Albon could only finish eighth after failing to match the pace of the Racing Points ahead on the grid, before losing places to Carlos Sainz and Sebastian Vettel through the race. Albon said after the race he was “really struggling to keep the tyres alive” in all three of his stints, having made an early stop for hard tyres.

Asked by Motorsport.com, if Albon had been let down by Red Bull’s strategy, team principal Horner said he did not think it was the main issue.

Horner explained, “The problem was that Alex didn’t have a good balance in the car. When the balance isn’t quite there on all three compounds of tyres, [it meant] he just went through them incredibly quickly.”

“Running in dirty air for such large percentage of the race, we just ate the tyres. We didn’t have any longevity to our stints, whether it was on the hard, the soft, the medium so that then compounds itself.”

While Verstappen is currently second in drivers’ championship after five consecutive podium finishes, Albon lies sixth in the standings, having picked up less than half as many points. Horner says that Red Bull was working with Albon through his troubles, but the car itself wasn’t quite making sense yet.

“[We’re] in the simulator, looking at the characteristics, the style of driving between the two cars, [asking] why is Max able to extract more out of the car,” Horner said.


Concerns about blocking in qualifying

Formula One drivers are going to discuss concerns about the closing speeds between cars on hot laps and slow laps following the incident involving Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon in third practice at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ocon crashed into the wall during final practice after taking action to avoid the slow-moving Magnussen between Turn 3 and Turn 4. The Dane was trying to cool his tyres as Ocon was warming his up, which explains the speed difference.

The stewards put it down as an “unfortunate” accident, with no action being taken. But we have seen over the last year drivers repeatedly slow down during qualifying trying to cool their tyres, causing them to bunch in the final sector before starting their flying laps.

Ocon told Motorsport.com, “It’s not really acceptable to have a queue of cars. If there is someone coming up at race speed, it can be dangerous. This has been the trend. In hot conditions, we are a minute slower in a cool-down lap or to prep the lap. It’s very, very slow.

“We would need to limit [the minimum time]. To start my last lap, I was basically clutch in and I stopped. I was literally doing zero kph in the middle of the line. It’s very, very extreme nowadays.”

The issue will be discussed at the Belgian Grand Prix drivers briefing, with Grand Prix Drivers’ Association director Romain Grosjean, admitting there were safety concerns about the closing speed difference between cars on push laps and cool laps.

Grosjean suggested that the issue was fluctuating temperatures of the Pirelli tyres forced the drivers to go so slow to prepare for another push lap.

Saying “We have got to lose about 30 degrees in one lap. To lose 30 degrees, you need to go as slow as you can, spend as much time as you can, and just not generate any load on the tyres.”


Gasly’s home robbed

Pierre Gasly says his home in Normandy was robbed and ransacked while he was racing in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix. The Alpha Tauri driver posted a message on Instagram asking anyone with information to get in touch on social media.

Gasly lost expensive engraved watches, racing helmets, clothes and jewellery in the robbery. He said: “Some people are worthless, disrespectful and contemptible.”.


Alonso’s third Indy500 attempt

Fernando Alonso will start his third attempt to win the Indianapolis 500 from twenty sixth. The Spaniard posted a four-lap qualifying speed of 228.678mph in his Arrow McLaren car. American Marco Andretti took pole at 231.068mph.

Alonso is making his third attempt to win the Indy 500, which will make him only the second man after Graham Hill to win the ‘triple crown’ of Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and Indy.

Alonso was a contender for victory on his Indy 500 debut in 2017, driving a McLaren-branded Andretti Autosport car, but failed to qualify last year in a one-off attempt by McLaren, which the team admitted to mishandling.

Alonso said, “Did not have the speed but happy with the run. Some interesting people around our position. Always very intense for four laps at Indy! Now one day less for the big one. Race car felt good.”

McLaren has set up their own IndyCar team this year, with the regular drivers being Patricio ‘Pato’ O’Ward and Oliver Askew, who qualified fifteenth and twenty-first on Saturday.

Saturday’s qualifying session sets positions 10 to 33 on the grid for the race, which is on 23 August at the historic 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Former F1 drivers Takuma Sato, the 2017 winner, and Marcus Ericsson ninth and eleventh, also with Honda engines.


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