Sauber and Force India withdraw EU complaint
Force India and Sauber have withdrawn their complaint to the European Commission about anti-competitive practices in Formula One.
The teams launched the complaint claiming that under the leadership of Bernie Ecclestone that he had created an “unfair” governance structure and split of revenues. But the teams say they are “encouraged by dialogue” with F1’s new owners.
US group Liberty Media bought F1’s commercial rights last year. Since then the sport’s bosses have begun a review of the sport’s governance and structure. Liberty are also looking at ways of reducing the costs of the sport with a wide range of measures.
The measures being looked at include a cap on the amount of money teams can spend, a fairer revenue split, simplifying engines to help generate a more competitive field. As well as changing the technical rules to encourage closer racing and make overtaking easier.
In a joint statement, Sauber and Force India said, Carey and his new management team had “brought a new culture of transparency to the sport and illustrates willingness to debate fundamental issues such as the distribution of the prize fund monies, cost control and engine regulations”.
“We are encouraged and reassured by the even-handed and fair negotiating approach taken by the new management of Formula 1 to all the teams and their issues.”
Both said while the complaint was justified, they have had assurances that their concerns will be looked at by the sport. Adding “we prefer to resolve the issues facing the sport through dialogue rather than a legal dispute.”
Reduction to three engines doesn’t need new science
Mercedes engine boss Andy Cowell says that the reduction in power units this season does not require any “new science.” This year drivers will incur grid penalties should they go onto their four internal combustion engines, MGU-Hs or turbochargers, rather than when they move to their fifth.
Cowell says that teams should not find the reduction to taxing as it was continuing the trend which began in 2004, with one engine per weekend. He says the move means that engines now have to do seven race instead of five.
He told Motorsport.com, “For the last 10 years every single engine engineer has had a progressively increasing life requirement from everything that he or she’s been working on, and so it’s not a new science, it’s just a different number.”
“We had qualifying engines when they were permitted but we then said no that’s ridiculous to have a qualifying engine and then fit a race engine, it’s going to be the same spec of engine throughout a race weekend. That was the first time.” He says that the electronics MGU-K has been reduced to two because that is the easiest place to extend the life.
Cowell is certain the 2018 engines will be at least as powerful as last year’s versions despite the increasing lifespan.
The new battle on car design
A new battleground is set to open up for designers over low T-wings to recover lost downforce from the rear of the cars. A loop in last season’s technical regulations allowed high T-wings on the top of engine covers, allowing teams to boost performance.
Teams are aware of the benefit from wings like this, and in a bid to find an alternative solution. As teams looked to find a way around the new regulation which says that “ no bodywork forward of the rear wheel centre line may lie above a line parallel to the diagonal boundary defined in a) [a rule that defines the dimension of the engine cover] and intersecting the rear wheel centre line 650mm above the reference plane.”
This year the teams have a better understanding of the current technical regulations, which should see them make gains this season. The way teams choose to channel air around the car is a vital area in terms of performance.
Speaking to Autosport, McLaren’s technical director Tim Goss, said “You would expect there to be a step, and given the cars are relatively immature, you would expect it to be a bigger step than in previous seasons.”
Sky Italia confirms exclusive rights, as Germany looks exits deal
Sky Italia have confirmed that only the Italian Grand Prix will be shown live by the free to air network, because of Sky’s exclusive rights deal. Last week it was reported that RAI had failed to reach a new deal for broadcast rights – leaving the door open for Sky to tighten its control.
F1 has agreed on a three-year deal with Sky, until the end of 2020, for exclusive broadcast and digital coverage on its pay-TV channels. The statement by Liberty Media says that at least four races, including the Italian Grand Prix, will be shown by sister channel TV8 on free to air.
The news will be a blow to fans who will have to pay for coverage, head of digital rights Ian Holmes said he was happy that the new Sky deal would deliver a more in-depth coverage overall. “It is very important to have reached this agreement which will ensure that all the races will be broadcast live,” he said.
“Also, it is crucial to have maintained a free to air package of rights, which will always include the Italian Grand Prix, part of the Formula 1 World Championship since its origins in 1950.” Meanwhile, Sky Germany has announced it will not extending a contract which has free air coverage.
A statement said “The market for licensing rights in sports has changed dramatically. Due to the rising prices, we want to concentrate on rights that we can purchase and use with high exclusivity.
“In the case of F1 that was not possible because it will be broadcast 100 percent on free-to-air.”