Bratches key priorities
Sean Bratches the new commercial boss of Formula One has outlined his four key immediate priorities to improve the sport. Bratches, a former ESPN executive has been brought in as part of the senior team that includes CEO Chase Carey and managing director Ross Brawn, who focuses on sporting matters.
In his first interview since being appointed to the role with CNN, he outlined four key areas he wants to work on. “One is the brand – the brand is the entry-point for any company, any brand, any sport. And we are going to work to understand the brand. We are going to polish it, we are going to elevate it. It is going to be really central to what we do. That will allow us to enter new market places.”
“The second is digital. I think there is a huge opportunity in the digital space to re-imagine the digital products that F1 has today, and to engage fans in very new ways and also to use sponsors to activate it.”
“The third is creating a much more democratic approach in terms of how we approach our partners – from teams/sponsors/promoters and rights holders. There is a lot of opportunity to leverage the F1 IP to integrate it to their businesses.
“And the last one, is the race experience. Creating a better race experience that engages fans, spectators there and on television is a huge opportunity.”
Carey believes that the commercial side needs overhauling. He pointed out that the sport only had Ecclestone working on deals compared to MLB who have around eighty people working on marketing.
Asked by how much he felt it had fallen short, he said: “I have a point of view on that but I am not going to share that with you.”
“We are going to pivot this from a very deal orientated platform to one with a long-term vision that is focused on a very cadence business strategic approach to running the business.”
McLaren development more agile – Boullier
McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says that the quality of the team’s development process has become more agile. The team routinely brought upgrades to their car last season, trying to build themselves as a force again in Formula One.
Boullier was asked by Autosport if development is now strength of McLaren’s, Boullier said: “Yes, now it is. We are more agile, there is good correlation.”
“We hit a very good correlation rate in 2016 and the more parts we bring, the more performance you get. We have closed the gap to most other teams.” The Frenchman admitted the team could have been stronger in the second half of the season because of the regulation changes.
McLaren took a decision in May 2014 to start from scratch with a car concept and then stick with it, developing it over time with a group now led by Peter Prodromou.
The team had a habit of trying to search for the magic bullet each year, which resulted in unpredictable form. “Everybody agrees and understands this is the way to go,” said Boullier.
“That is a decision we took when we said this what we have strategically do technically. We had no concept before, so we had to start from scratch, and develop from there.” He added
The team changed the concept of the car, as Honda’s PU wasn’t mature enough. Boullier added “All this takes time. But now, I can feel it is clicking – we just have to be patient.”
McLaren pass crash test
McLaren have confirmed that they have past the FIA crash test, which all teams are required to past before pre-season testing.
In a Tweet it confirmed that the car which will proberbly be called the MP4-32, had successfully passed the FIA crash test. They Twetted “@eboullier: “After a lot of hard work, I want to say thanks to those who helped us pass the @fia’s crash tests. Now to get it painted…!”
The team are due to launch the car in a months time. There has been strong suggestions from executive director Zak Brown, that the livery would not be traditional, with orange set to be incorporated into the design.
Cars will look “awesome” – Ocon
Esteban Ocon says the new cars this season are going to look “awesome” but has cautioned the racing could be spoiled by a lack of overtaking. However, the Frenchman has confidence that fans will like both the appearance and speed of the cars.
As well as warning the racing maybe less interesting Ocon told Motorsport.com “I think from the look, it’s going to be awesome. I think people lost a bit of interest when the cars started to be ugly in 2014, as the look makes a lot of difference to people.”
“And also the sound was not great. The sound will still be poor – from my side I preferred it when it was an atmospheric engine.” He added. Ocon says that the corners are going to be impressive and that cameras will see the speed in qualifying.
He says “for the races it’s not going to be interesting, it’s going to be harder to overtake, and there’s going to be less opportunities.” Like most drivers, Ocon has ramped up his train because of higher g-forces.
Ocon says instead of doing a two week training camp he’s don’t a two month training program, for twelve hours a day.
Smedley to widen Williams role
Williams’s Rob Smedley is to take a wider role within his role as the team performance chief; with him also taking on a role focusing on the team’s medium to long term development.
The British engineer who attends all races, is responsible for running the Williams cars at the track, and that will continue to be a part of his broader F1 role. After the team dropped to fifth in the constructors’ championship last year, he admitted the team needs to focus on planning further ahead if it is to become a frontrunner and that will now be part of his remit.
Speaking about his new role he told Autosport he “will not only look after at the short term – making sure the car runs and maximises its potential at the track and that we have a slick operation in terms of what we’re doing.”
“I’ll start to look at the more medium-to-long term development. It’s important that we start to concentrate a bit harder on that, in order that we’re making steps into higher performance fields and not always trying to work at the same level” he added.
Late last year, there were rumours that he was this year going to spend more time at the factory When asked how he will split his time between the track and the factory, Smedley said “It’s not entirely defined.”
“That’s not because we’re disorganised but because we’re trying to see how best the structure is going to fall out and where best to use everyone’s talents.” He added.
Williams have lost chief technical officer Pat Symonds who is expected to be replaced by former Mercedes executive technical director Paddy Lowe.
When asked how he will split his time between the track and the factory, Smedley said: “It’s not entirely defined. That’s not because we’re disorganised but because we’re trying to see how best the structure is going to fall out and where best to use everyone’s talent”
Williams will be champions – Bottas
Valtteri Bottas says his former team Williams, will be world champions at some point in the near future. The Finn left Williams earlier this month to replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, after he retired in December.
Williams who won nine constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ championships in its 40 year history, have not won a race in four years and any championships since 1997. Bottas told ESPN “I was with Williams for a total of seven years, four years as a race driver and everything has gone really quickly.”
“I think I am one of [the drivers with] the most races done at Williams and it’s been an amazing learning curve for me and also for the team.” Bottas says that Williams have grown more and more professional, but on track results sometimes don’t show it.
Adding “ I think it is only a matter of time for this team and it’s a shame that we couldn’t get together our first win or the title.” The Finn began his F1 career with the team working his way up to a race seat.
During the last three years, he took nine of the teams podiums and hopes he has left the team in a stronger position than when he joined. Saying “I wish all the best to everyone at Williams and wish them a lot of success and hope that they will get the championship sooner rather than later.”
“I feel and I hope I have given a lot to Williams, at least I always tried everything I could.” He added.