Getting nothing on future of the sport
Teams are “getting nothing” in terms of the future shape of the sport following the takeover by Liberty Media in January, says Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley.
Liberty has been holding talks with the teams about the next set of engine regulations with them agreeing that the cost of the power unit must be brought down. But Fernley says he expected that by now there would be a clear direction on the sport’s future.
He told Autosport “We have done an awful lot of talking and an awful lot of ideas have come through. But when we’re nine months down the road, you’d have thought we’d have been firming something up a bit more now.
“The engine programme should be finalised because that is the cornerstone of the cost control programme. Cost control should be coming though very closely behind it, if that’s where we’re going because people have to respond to it.”
Fernley says there has been enough talking and now it was up to Liberty to make a decision on the regulations.
“Ross [Brawn, F1’s sporting boss] has taken a very careful approach to everything, he’s talked to all the teams, he’s got all the feedback.They have a direction they want to go into. Now they need to get something out in the discussion process to all teams.”
Verstappen toughest team-mate of Ricciardo’s
Daniel Ricciardo has claimed that his current Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, has been his toughest team-mate in Formula One. Ricciardo has been team-mates of four times champion Sebastian Vettel and comfortably beat him in the championship.
Ricciardo has been Verstappen’s team-mate ever since he was promoted from Toro Rosso in 2016. Asked by Channel 4, if Verstappen had been his most challenging team-mate, he said “From what I’ve had yes. I don’t want to take anything away from Seb, he is and was and still is a great driver – but I believe Max is the toughest teammate.”
In Budapest, the Australian found out that Verstappen could be feisty after the pair fought at turn two which saw the Dutchman plough into Ricciardo. He said “The marshal was pulling me off the track, I was like ‘don’t touch me’, I really wanted to wait for Max to drive past,”
“In the heat of the moment, I may have said some things… but I still feel that I handled myself all right. We’ve moved on. Obviously, I was upset but that was out of my control, so what more can I do?”
“He apologised like a man, that was important. We had a private sit down, pretty much like we are now but without the cameras, and we spoke so that was important.” Ricciardo took victory in Baku and has finished on the podium seven times this season.
Speaking about the hopes of a championship, he said “I’ve got to make the most of what I’ve got right now and I feel I have.”
No change in Hamilton’s approach
Lewis Hamilton says he will stay with the same approach he has used to give him his current twenty eight-point lead in the championship for the six remaining Grand Prix’s of the season.
The Mercedes drivers three wins following the summer break has seen him turn a deficit of fourteen into a lead of more than one race win. The next five Grand Prix’s are set to decide the championship, with the remaining races expected to favour Mercedes.
However, the three times champion is insisting that he “definitely won’t change anything “because it’s working.”
He told Sky Sports “It’s a perfect balance of being aggressive and cautious at the same time. So, the formula works at the moment, so I’ll just continue with it. Right to the last race.”
Despite the lead, Hamilton will be aware of the fact in the next five races there are a hundred and fifty points up for grabs, with a hundred points next month alone. The Englishman is yet to suffer a retirement this season.
His Mercedes has been reliable this season with him finishing every Grand Prix this season. However, at last years race at Sepang, his title hopes ended when his engine blew in the closing stages
He says “Coming from last year, for example, where there were lots of mistakes, this is a year I try to make sure that, if I’m going to grow anywhere, in any space, that’s going to be it. And focus on not making any mistakes seems to be working.”
Speaking about next weekend’s race in Malaysia, Hamilton says he expects the Mercedes to suit the circuit while still expecting the battle with Ferrari.
Saying “We have Malaysia, I think we should be OK. Then we have Japan, high downforce circuit; could be close, Red Bulls are very, very strong at that circuit.”
Increased profits and losses for Force India
Force India has reported increases in income and a bigger loss as the team reports its accounts for 2016.
The team reported income of £77.1 million, up £12.9m from 2015 However, the team’s losses rose to £11.6m, a rise of-of £4.6m. The team a says that was because of “an increase of £5.7m charged to the accounts due as a result of currency fluctuations to both EUR and USD related suppliers/creditors during the year and balances outstanding at the end of the year.”
The accounts show the team also had a payment of £11m from Diageo, “under an agreement negotiated in connection with Dr Vijay Mallya’s settlement with Diageo.” Earlier this year, the British company acquired a controlling stake in Mallya’s former business United Spirits and replaced its Smirnoff brand with Johnnie Walker.
The results for this year are set to show an increase in income because the team finished fourth in the constructors last season, and looks set to retain that this year. That fourth place means the team earns increased prize money from FOM.
Also helping to boost the teams profits is a substantial sponsorship deal with BWT just before the start of the 2017 season while employing Mercedes’s Esteban Ocon for at least two seasons means Force India has a more favourable commercial relationship with its engine and gearbox supplier.
Next six race’s Palmer’s audition
Jolyon Palmer is viewing the remaining six Grand Prix’s of this season as an audition for another race seat next season. In Singapore Palmer learnt that he as being replaced by Carlos Sainz as part of the engine swap between McLaren and Toro Rosso.
Over the last week, it has been speculated that his future in Formula One could be tied to the future of Felipe Massa. Massa came out of retirement in January to replace Valtteri Bottas who left for Mercedes and has yet to decide on his future beyond this season.
The Englishman delivered a strong race in Singapore, where he scored his first points of the season. While he admits not scoring in the first fifteen races of the season harmed his chances of staying with Renault.
Speaking to ESPN, Palmer said “I’ve got a car that can score points and I am focused on doing the best job that I can. I would have loved it if the team had signed me for next year.”
“But with the way that the season has gone it is understandable that it has not happened. It has been a tough year all round. I want to go out with my head held high and prove I can do the job.”
Palmer once again insisted that despite the rumours he could be replaced by Sainz this season, that he believes that he will stau with the team until the end of the year.
Saying “I’m still excited for the performance we’ve got as a team and still excited to be racing in a competitive car that I think is the fourth best, especially when we move on to the next few tracks, so there is a lot to be encouraged by.”
Tighter rules on jump starts
The FIA has tightened the rules around jump starts and has introduced the possibility of penalties, even if the detection system isn’t triggered.
What is officially known as false starts came under scrutiny at the Austrian Grand Prix this year, after Valtteri Bottas appeared to move early, but was not penalised before going on to win. The Finns rivals believe that he could not have reacted that fast to anticipating the start.
However, its Sebastian Vettel’s grid positioning in China which has prompted the significant change to the wording of the regulations. It is understood that Vettel was so far out of his grid position he didn’t even register on the system.
The Current rules read “either of the penalties under articles 38.3c) or d) will be imposed for a false start judged using an FIA supplied transponder which must be fitted to the car as specified”, with the penalties either a drive-through or 10 seconds stop and go.
The 2018 regulations will read “Either of the penalties under articles 38.3c) or d) will be imposed on any driver who is judged to have:
- a) Moved before the start signal is given, such judgement being made by an FIA approved and supplied transponder fitted to each car, or;
- b) Positioned his car on the starting grid in such a way that the transponder is unable to detect the moment at which the car first moved from its grid position after the start signal is given.”
China and Bahrain to swap dates
Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations Sean Bratches, says the sport is confident that there will be a Chinese Grand Prix next season.
The Chinese race is currently marked as subject to confirmation of a new contract, on April 8 with the race at Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit on the following weekend. The problem is that the Shanghai race clashes with a national holiday Tomb Sweeping Festival when families pay respects to their ancestors.
That could reduce the crowd and lessen the overall impact in a country that Formula One’s new owners Liberty Media have identified as a key growth area. Bratches said at an event at Williams for the Grand Prix Trust “We’re trying to take into account global events, local events, religious holidays and things to ensure that…we’re maximising the opportunity for fans to attend the grand prix’s”
“We’re talking to both of them (China and Bahrain) to that end and if we can reach a mutually agreed upon solution, which appears to be on track to happen, you’ll probably see that,” he said. The final calendar is due to be approved on the sixth of December.
That’s all from F1 Today this week, we are taking an extended weekend break. F1 Today returns on Wednesday, throughout the week we will have built up to the Malaysian Grand Prix