Liberty looking at budget cap
There are reports that Liberty Media are considering introducing a budget cap for competing teams. The American media company announced earlier this month that it was seeking more backing to take a controlling stake in the sport in September.
The aim is to restrict the amount that teams can spend, to level the field and make the sport more financially sustainable for smaller teams. The manoeuvres, which are in their early stages, are likely to be highly controversial. In 2009 last time this was discussed, McLaren, Ferrari, Brawn (now Mercedes), Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Force India and Renault all threatened to quit and form their own series via GPWC.
A senior source told the Telegraph “It makes no sense to have teams spending the better part of $400m (£320m).That money is not doing anything good for fans. It is just wasted on competing on technology.”
“That has not been driven by logic and it has created a two-class society in terms of what is spent on teams. You should have an opportunity for the underdog to win.”
This decade as the sport dominated by Red Bull and Mercedes, while two of the three teams that entered in 2010, have collapsed because of the lack of finance. There is still concern in some of the smaller teams about the affordability of the sport.
The details of the potential spending controls are still under development and may not be as simple as a cap on costs. There is fears that teams owned by big car manufacturers could allocate costs to their parent company.
Liberty want to change the way the sport is run and return to the more European races and turn races into “week-long extravaganzas”.
McLaren Coup – Capito set to be ousted within months of joining
McLaren are set to remove their new head of F1 Jost Capito, after less than four months with the team. His position has been under treat since the ousting of group chairman Ron Dennis.
Dennis has been place on gardening leave pending the end of his deal next month. Capito, too is now on his way out, having been viewed as Dennis’s man, BBC Sport has learned. It’s understood that Capito is now on his way out, following the appointment of Zak Brown as CEO.
Brown has been tasked with running the McLaren Group on a day-to-day basis. In another development ally of Dennis, Ekrem Sami has also been removed after nearly four decades at the team. Dennis is technically in charge, but no longer has an active role running the company. He is also a 25% shareholder in McLaren Group.
The group is currently run by an executive committee formed by the other main shareholders – the Bahrain sovereign investment fund Mumtalakat, which owns 50%, and TAG’s Mansour Ojjeh, who owns 25%.
When Capito is ousted it leaves Eric Boullier is charge of the whole racing team. Boullier was brought in following the 2014 Coup which saw Dennis oust Martin Whitmarsh.
Not losing sleep over Brazil’s future
The organiser of the Brazilian Grand Prix says he is “not losing sleep” over the prospect of losing the race, as he has confidence that he can get another one to replace it.
The race despite having a contract until 2020, has been marked as TBC (to be confirmed) because of the slow progress of the circuits redevelopment, which included the track being resurfaced and ageing paddock facilities upgraded, has been criticised.
Promoter Tama Rohonyi told Autosport he was “95%” sure that the race would be confirmed when the 2017 final calendar was published. If the race is dropped he has confidence that they can find a replacement saying “We have a very old and powerful company here and we’ll immediately get another international race for this circuit.”
“People come to Interlagos because they are petrol heads and once a year, they want a big international race. I’m in the business of running international motor races and if I can’t run F1, which I have been running for 42 years, it’s like if Pavarotti dies, you get another singer.”
The issue is for the country, is that it is in a economic and political crisis. The crisis also involves the race sponsor Petrobras, meaning they have lost sponsorship from major state companies.
The city’s mayor elect Joano Doria, has said he w ants to keep the race and added there is a desire to extend the contract beyond 2020. “The only way to bring this to a conclusion is to extend the contract to 2028 or 2024. I would imagine 2028 will be the target because we have to mobilise so many companies, so many people and so many political clubs.”
Schumacher’s family launch an initiative
The family of Michael Schumacher are launching a “Keep Fighting Initiative” as a sign of gratitude to fans and to encourage people inspired by Schumacher’s career “to keep fighting and never give up.”
The seven time world champion suffered a skiing accident just under three years ago in Meribel. The German’s manager said about his condition at the same time “Michael’s health is not a public issue, and so we will continue to make no comment in that regard”
Sabine Kehm said in a statement on Saturday. “We have to protect his intimate sphere. Legally seen and in the longer term, every statement related to his health would diminish the extent of his intimate sphere.” The family are however, announced they were launching this initiative to thank the fans and inspire people by his career, “to keep fighting and never give up.”
Schumacher hit his head on a rock which broke his helmet and caused blood clots on his brain, but some were left because they were too deeply embedded.
Kehm added “Michael has always been very protective of his privacy, even during the most successful times of his career. He has always made sure there is a clear and distinct line between his public persona and his private one,”
Hamilton “felt disrespected”
Lewis Hamilton say he “felt disrespected” over the way Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe handled the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Hamilton tried to back his team-mate Nico Rosberg into traffic, to put him under pressure from Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen. This was so he could get Rosberg off the podium, which would of allowed him to retain his title.
Lowe informed Hamilton to speed up during the race – something Wolff called the highest escalation of the Mercedes team order – before Wolff himself suggested the Briton could be punished for ignoring the call.
Speaking in an interview recorded earlier this month broadcast yesterday, Hamilton told Channel 4 “That was one of many uncomfortable moments of the year.”
“Ultimately, seeing what had been said afterwards, I felt quite disrespected by the individuals who had spoken. You don’t expect that from those who are in charge of so many people.” Wolff speaking on the same programme admitted he should of let them race.
Hamilton admitted he still is struggling to come to terms with suffering reliability problems in 2016, such as when he retired from the lead of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
“Mentally tough season” for Renault
Renault’s director of track operations Alan Permane, says the team are glad to see the end of a “mentally tough season”. The French car giant returned to the sport as a works team, after buying Lotus at the end of last year.
But delays in the takeover left the car underdeveloped. This year was always going to be difficult for the team to get any decent results, so the switched to their 2017 program early with the regulation changes.
Renault struggled to score points and only finished ahead of Sauber and Manor in the constructors championship. Permane told Autosport “”I won’t be sad to see the back of this car. It is mentally tough to go into each race weekend with higher expectations than you know you’re going to achieve, and then battle every week to get out of Q1.”
“2015 wasn’t so bad, but 2014 and 2016 have been really tough on everyone at Renault, so we’re looking forward to moving up the grid.” He added that next season the team hope to be moving forward and battling in Q3 next season.
Despite the tough season, Permane says that morale of the staff has been considerably better this term, courtesy of new stability and signs of progress at the factory.
“I’m proud of the guys and not just the race team but the whole factory, the whole of Enstone. It’s been easier – we don’t have the mental worry of ‘are we going to be paid this month?’ and that sort of thing.”