F1 needs to embrace new ideas – Witmarsh
Former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says that Formula One should embrace the new fresh ideas which could help the sport grow in the future. Earlier this week Berine Ecclestone was ousted from his post as CEO, following the takeover by Liberty Media.
The American company has already laid out there long term vision to improve the sport. Chase Carey, along with Ross Brawn and Sean Bratches, head up the new-look management and Whitmarsh believes a different blueprint was necessary for the sport. Speaking to Sky Sports Witmarsh says “It’s a new era but it’s been a long time coming.”
“There comes a time in any enterprising sport where it’s time for fresh ideas and fresh views and I think Formula 1 has probably come to that point.”
“I’m a Formula 1 fan still and I loved it, I was in it for 25 years but it’s nice watching it from afar and I intend to continue to do that. But it’s going to grow; live sporting content is so valuable.” Witmarsh himself was ousted in a coup, by now ousted McLaren boss Ron Dennis.
Witmarsh says he is a Formula One fan still but after twenty five years its nice watching from afar.
Whitmarsh is now head of America’s Cup team Land Rover BAR but has fond memories of his time in F1. Praising Liberty for creating chairman emeritus Ecclestone.
Brawn eyes budget cap debate
Formula One’s Managing Director Ross Brawn says he wants to reopen discussions about using a budget cap as a way of levelling the playing field. The big teams spend millions trying to win titles, while the smallest fight just to say in the sport.
Brawn said part of his new role as part of F1’s management — is keen to look at ways of reducing costs. But in 2009, he was part of the open revolt as the owner of Brawn GP against the FIA plan for a budget cap. he told ESPN “The situation at the moment is that the return on investment, in terms of performance, is still steep, so the more money you invest the faster you go.”
“What we really need to do is reduce that slope and find ways within the technical regulations of rewarding less for heavy investment. That’s the concept, achieving it is more difficult.” Brawn says the plan is to slowly chip away at the way investment equals reward so we can reduce costs.
The teams signed up to the Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA) in an attempt to control costs but, with no formal regulations to penalise spending outside the RRA failed. Brawn said he would like to find out where teams stand on that. He was insistent he isn’t proposing a cap and it would raise questions about what you should cap.
Brown backs budget cap concept
McLaren’s Executive Director Zak Brown, says he in favour of the concept of a budget cap. A budget cap is a hugely divisive issue in Formula One, as last time it was discussed team debated breaking away and was abandoned.
Since the takeover by Liberty in September the idea has come up again. Former McLaren boss Ron Dennis questioned whether it was necessary or could be policed.
Brown, though, is more open to the idea to ensure F1 does not “price ourselves out of being a championship that can put 10, 11 or 12 teams on the grid”. He told Autosport “I’m a big supporter of getting a budget cap in place and rebalancing the economic spread between first and last place.”
“Teams like McLaren and Williams and Ferrari bring more to the table than some of the others and I think we need to be rewarded as such but it will be unhealthy for all of us if we have a Manor [team entering administration] every year.” He added.
Brown says that spending needs to be reduced and balancing the money out so everyone is making money. Brown’s remit is securing a title sponsor for the 2018 season, with McLaren having failed to replace Vodafone since its departure at the end of ’13.
He says that Dennis comment ‘there’s no such thing as a title sponsor any more’ meant that sponsors used to pay half the racing bill.
Mustn’t turn into beta testing – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that Formula One must not rush into ‘beta testing’ experiments in all-new rules in a bid to drive up audiences.
Liberty Media are beginning a revamp of the sport after its takeover and ousting of Bernie Ecclestone, Wolff has urged caution in making snap changes to improve the spectacle. Wolff says any move to shake up the sport need to be well considered and mustn’t alienate the core audience.
He told the team’s website “I think we need to acknowledge that Formula 1 is a technical sport, so it will always polarise. There are people who will say that they hate it and others will say that they love it. That is okay.”
“But one thing is for sure – we shouldn’t make it a beta test. We shouldn’t mess with our loyal fans and our audiences by implementing rules and regulations that we haven’t assessed properly.” he added. Wolff says that data should be used in a scientific approach as well as seeing what works in other sports and other entertainment platforms.
Those views are the same as Ross Brawn’s the new managing director, who wants a consultation with fans and working groups to evaluate the rules, before pushing through changes.
Wolff says it wrong to suggest that F1 as a sport is completely broken – because despite areas where the sport can improve, it still generates big audiences.
Renault switch from Total to BP
Renault is to switch fuel and lubricants supplier from French company Total to BP for this season. At the end of last season there had been speculation that Renault was thinking about switching to BP and Castrol for its fuel and lubricants.
McLaren last year agreed a technical arrangement with the world’s sixth largest oil and gas company. Renault’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul says he believes the change of oil supplier could deliver a competitive advantage, with the higher drag developed by this year’s new breed of cars.
Abiteboul told Autosport “With the new aerodynamic regulations for the 2017 Formula 1 season, power sensitivity will increase. Therefore fuels and lubricants will make an even greater difference to the overall performance of the car than they have since the new power unit regulations have been introduced in 2014.”
He says that the team are very excited by the changes and are confident that they can help Renault achieve there goals. Renault’s switch means BP will next season be supporting two teams. Abiteboul added he believed that having such a split approach could actually bring some benefit in promoting competition between the different companies.
“I always prefer simplicity because we have enough complexity to absorb, so it is better if it is only one. But there are a number of engine suppliers who have been very successful in the past with two homologations.” He added.
Webber awarded Australia’s highest honour
Former F1 Driver, World Endurance Champion and Channel 4 commentator Mark Webber has been awarded Officer of the Order of Australia.
Webber has been awarded one of the country’s highest honours for “distinguished service to motorsport as a competitor and ambassador, and to the community, through fundraising and patronage of a range of medical and youth support organizations.”
Webber during his F1 career took nine victories and finished third in the championship. In 2014, he switched to the World Endurance Championship. He took four wins and was second in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 40-year-old retired from racing at the end of the 2016 season, having four more victories and having clinched fourth in the title race. Webber has been retained by Porsche as an ambassador and continues to work for Channel 4 as a pundit and commentator for the broadcasters F1 and WEC coverage.