Williams sold to investment firm
The Williams team has been sold to the American investment firm Dorilton Capital after being put up for sale in May. After almost half a century the Williams family has let go of its limited control of the team.
The announcement of the purchase comes in the week that all 10 F1 teams signed up to the new Concorde Agreement governing the sport, which has been designed to ensure a more level-playing field in the future.
The Williams name will remain in place, with the new owners saying they have no plans to relocate from their traditional base in Grove, Oxfordshire. Clare Williams will remain as defacto/deputy team principal with father Sir Frank, remaining as team principal.
A statement said, “This marks the beginning of an exciting new era in the history of Williams, which with its new owner, is well positioned to capitalise upon the sweeping rule changes coming into Formula One with the new Concorde Agreement.”
Williams has won seven drivers’ championships and nine constructors’ titles since entering the F1 in 1977 when it was founded by Sir Frank, who has remained team principal, and long-serving technical director Sir Patrick Head.
The British team last won a driver’s championship with Jacques Villeneuve in 1997, while the team have claimed only one race win in the last 16 years, in 2012.
Ms Williams added “As a family, we have always put our team first. Making the team successful again and protecting our people has been at the heart of this process from start.”
“This may be the end of an era for Williams as a family-owned team, but we know it is in good hands. The sale ensures the team’s survival but most importantly will provide a path to success.”
Williams began its strategic review for three reasons, the coronavirus pandemic, trying to secure the outfit’s future and improve their chances of moving back up the grid.
“When we started this process, we wanted to find a partner who shared the same passion and values, who recognised the team’s potential and who could unlock its power,” added Claire Williams.
Dorilton chairman Matthew Savage, says the next phase of the review would focus on its objective of returning to the front of the grid
Ferrari “satisfied” with Concorde Agreement
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says they are “very satisfied” with the outcome of the new Concorde Agreement and believe the foundations are now in place to enhance F1’s spectacle.
After two years of negations between the teams, FIA and Liberty Media all parties signed the five-year deal which runs until 2025. The eighth agreement is the most radical, as it gives a more financial parity while recognising the commitment and success of teams like Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren.
Although the financial rewards between the front and the back of the field will close up, Ferrari’s terms also reflect their status as F1’s longest-standing team – including the right of veto in regulation talks they have held since the first Concorde Agreement in the 1980s.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Binotto said, “We at least got what was essential for us. Which was to still keep what’s the importance of the condition of our brand for the importance of the F1.”
“We have maintained what we call the protection right, or the veto right, which is important for Ferrari because what Ferrari represent for the entire F1 and the history. So overall, yes, satisfied. You can always get more, you can get less, but what has been achieved is an important result.”
Binotto believes the whole sport is now well set up to achieve the stated long-term objectives. He believes that the future is positive, and has the right basis for making the sport even more spectacular, stronger, and we need to do it all together.”
Only three teams, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, have won races over the past seven years, F1’s owners, Liberty Media, have set about ways to make the sport more equitable and competitive.
The only part of the 2021 regulation change which will come into force next year will be the budget cap which has been revised down to £110m, because of the coronavirus pandemic. The sport’s cars are being overhauled for 2022.
One new Coronavirus case
Formula One’s weekly coronavirus update has confirmed that there was a new case in the week 14 – 21 August. It carried out 2,847 tests in the week to Thursday, a drop in the number of tests due to the break between Barcelona and Spa.
Ocon believes he can bounce back
Esteban Ocon believes he can bounce back at the Belgian Grand Prix after a difficult race in Spain. In Barcelona the Frenchman qualified fifteenth and finished thirteenth after struggling all weekend for performance.
For next weekends, race at Spa Ocon will have a new power unit as well as his first scheduled gearbox change. He is hoping that both of these changes will allow him to close the visible gap seen in recent races the gap to teammate Daniel Ricciardo.
Ocon told Motorsport.com, “Definitely, I feel Spa is going to be a fresh start. Obviously we have a week to analyse, and recover all together, there is going to a new gearbox, a new engine, a lot of new parts as well.
“We’re obviously not happy with the performance difference between the cars. But hopefully, that will make it closer, and it’s going to be a fresh start for my side of the garage.”
“We’re changing the engine for the straight-line speed that I was lacking. But there are also other areas, where we feel we’re not as competitive compared to the other side of the garage
Ocon believes that the new directive for Spa, which will force the teams to run the same engine modes in qualifying and the race from Spa will help Renault’s prospects. Explaining, that the team’s race mode is very competitive and should help them fighting with Racing Point and McLaren.
Asked to sum up his year to date Ocon said: “There have been some good signs this season, we have shown we’re capable of been quick, of doing it. Qualifying in fifth in my second Grand Prix was nice, but then we had a missed opportunity in the race.”
Cutting downforce helping tyres
Pirelli’s head of Formula One Mario Isola says the FIA’s plan to further trim Formula One’s downforce levels in 2021 to help the tyre company is more a matter of performance than safety.
Last year teams rejected the 2020 tyres which meant they would be used this season, but the Coronavirus means that the regulation changes would largely be carried over to next year. However, after the problems in Silverstone, the FIA has promised a further downforce cut for 2021, with tweaks in a few areas.
The issue will be discussed on Friday by technical directors at there regular working group today. Isola has welcomed the promised changes but explains that reining in downforce should not be regarded as a safety measure, as Pirelli can always increase pressures to compensate for high loads.
The problem is that higher pressures create other issues that impact the racing, as was seen at Silverstone. Speaking about change, Isola told Autosport, “The FIA decided to do that and I cannot say that I’m not in agreement. But I don’t want that the message to be that it’s for safety reasons, because we can use the pressure to compensate for the level of load.”
“Obviously, if we consider that from now to the end of 2021 the ability of the teams to develop the cars is huge. We can end up at the end of 2021 with a level of load that is really very high.”
“Therefore we are obliged to increase the pressure to where we have again degradation, overheating or blistering at the level that we don’t want, so it’s the right move to do for next year.” Isola says the raising of tyre pressures at the second Silverstone race.
He said it was a matter of safety and if they raise the pressure to compensate for the load, the level of stress can be increased. Isola says that the tyre pressures were also an important part in this equation.
Pirelli is still hoping that it can modify the current construction for 2021, and is planning to conduct prototype testing in FP2 sessions later in the season.
Vettel former teammates believe he can bounce back
Sebastian Vettel’s former teammates Kimi Räikkönen and Daniel Ricciardo are expecting the German to bounce back after a tough start to the 2020 season with Ferrari.
During the coronavirus break Vettel was told by Ferrari his contract will not be renewed for 2021 as the Italian squad moved to replace the four-time world champion with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.
That will bring to a end a turbulent six years with Ferrari, in which he failed to win a fifth title following in the footsteps of childhood hero Michael Schumacher by giving the tifosi another championship to celebrate.
Vettel’s final season with Ferrari has been a difficult one so far, the German struggling to get to grips with an ill-handling SF1000 while Ferrari is unable to keep up with the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull. It has been the worst start to a season in Vettel’s thirteen years in the sport.
Räikkönen told Motorsport.com, “I’m sure he’s not very happy about how things are going, but that’s how it is. Ferrari is Ferrari and people are looking at those things, for sure the Italians. But I doubt it will affect how he does his job there.”
“I think he’s been in the sport long enough to know that sometimes it’s like that and to find a way to turn it around.” Räikkönen also believes that the pressure from the titfosi and Italian media harms Vettel’s performances.
He says that he never found it any different to other teams, with the widely held belief that the Italian media place extra pressure on drivers and that could be a factor.
Adding, “When I was there sometimes we had bad times and the Italians can be harsh on you on the media side, but that’s how it is. That’s how it works in this business.”
Daniel Ricciardo who was Vettel’s teammate at Red Bull in 2014, also expects Vettel to bounce back and not “walk away from a problem”.
The Week Ahead
The third-triple header begins at the Belgian Grand Prix, you have to believe that the Racing Point row is still likely to be high on the agenda and another protest will likely emerge. This is a very important debate as its about the future of the sport, its likely to continue until we get to a court case.
Politically this has been a big week for the sport with the teams signing off on the Concorde Agreement, you expect reaction from the teams at Spa. Historically this has been an important week in starting of signing drivers, however, you imagine just six races into the season this might feel too early.
There are rumours about the next batch of races for this season, normally we would have a revised second provisional calendar for 2021 at Spa/Monza. However, the main objective of Liberty is putting together the final batch of races including Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. We also expect Istanbul to be added in mid-November.
A lot of focus will be on Max Verstappen, by default, this is his home race having the Dutch Grand Prix cancelled and being half Belgian, he will be the focus for much of the media. He is the only driver who has managed to beat Mercedes this season.