MEP calls for Liberty deal to be investigated
British Labour MEP Anneliese Dodds has asked the EU commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager regarding Liberty Media’s purchase of the F1 Group.
Dodds says there is potentially a conflict of interest for the FIA to sign off the deal while holding a stake in Formula One estimated to be worth £33m, meaning that it will profit from the deal going ahead.
A statement from her office today said: “The 1999-2001 European Commission investigation into Formula 1 was supposed to result in the FIA being limited to the role of regulator with no commercial interests in order to avoid any conflict of interest.”
“Yet the current state of affairs – with the FIA standing to benefit financially from a sale which it is legally required to approve as regulator – seems to show that a clear conflict of interest remains.” The Brexit vote won’t stop the investigation into the deal.
Dodds has had an interest in the sport because several teams in her South East of England constituency, with specific regard to the way the sport’s income is distributed. Last year Sauber and Force India joined forces to forward an official EU complaint about alleged anti-competitive practices.
Dodds’s letter said that “The FIA has a duty to ensure the new owners of Formula One adhere to a ‘fit and proper persons test’ before they approve a sale of the sport.” She has also asked if the ale requires approval from the Commission due to European merger regulations as the UK is still a member until Brexit.
Dodds has also asked for a update on the Force India / Sauber complaint.
No deal with Renault on Sainz
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost says the team has no interest in doing a deal with Renault to allow Carlos Sainz to allow him to join the French manufacturer.
Sainz is currently under contract to the Red Bull programme which means he will say with Toro Rosso next season but Renault have been trying to sign him for next season. Renault had been trying to sign Stoffel Vandoorne, Sergio Perez and Valtteri Bottas but they all resigned with their current teams.
A source at Red Bull has told Motorsport.com that there is no interest in doing a deal with Renault to let Sainz go. Tost has reiterated that he too sees no reason for the energy drinks company to want anything other than keeping him at Toro Rosso.
Tost said “Carlos has a contract with Red Bull, and I don’t think Red Bull will let him go to another team considering the investment it has made during his career since the first steps in single-seater.”
“Today he is a high-level professional, and I see no reason why he could be let go. Toro Rosso needs Carlos: he’s fast, talented, and in 2017 we will need a driver of his level.” Added Tost.
While Sainz has a deal for 2017 uncertainly over Daniil Kvyat remains with Tost saying either the Kvyat or GP2 championship leader Pierre Gasly being in contention for the seat. Tost seems to hint that it would be important to have one maybe two experienced drivers because of next years regulation changes.
Hamilton hopes for the best
Lewis Hamilton says he needs to “hope for the best” over the next few races as he begins an attempt at regaining the lead of the championship. Hamilton has been beaten by his teammate Nico Rosberg for three races in a row, dropping him eight points behind his rival in the championship standings.
Hamilton has been unable to explain his dip in form at the Singapore Grand Prix and is hoping the situation will change in Malaysia. Hamilton told ESPN “Singapore was a difficult weekend for me, so to come away with a podium in the circumstances was pretty good damage limitation.”
“Ultimately, Nico did an exceptional job and I didn’t have my best weekend. But that’s the way it goes. We’re both fiercely competitive.” He explained there are some weekends where he does better and some where Rosberg does better.
He says he has no idea if the momentum will swing back to him and he will give it and hope for the best. Hamilton added “That’s all you can do as a sportsman.”
Before the summer break Hamilton took six victories in seven races and he is hoping for more of the same in the remaining rounds. He says he would need to lead races in order he can get back in front of the title and there’s no reason to think they won’t come back to me again.
Haas finds Singapore issue
Haas say they have found the cause of the problem which caused Romain Grosjean not to start the Singapore Grand Prix and they plan to have it sorted for the Malaysia Grand Prix.
The Frenchman didn’t start the race after he had a failure of the brake-by-wire system on his way to the grid with efforts by the team to track down and rectify the issue in time. Team Principal Guenther Steiner says the team has been working hard to find out what happened
He told F1i “We analyse what we’ve done and find out what went wrong and try to put measures in place so it doesn’t happen again.
“[The brake-by-wire system] is a very complex part of the car, but our problem was very simple. It was a connector that fell off. To get to the connector you have to take the gearbox off and, obviously, there was no time to do that.”
“It was strange because in the first corner [of the installation lap] it worked, but all of the sudden it went away.” He says there was a no connector that wasn’t connected outside of the gearbox. Then they were sure it was the brake-by-wire system, which is inside the gearbox.
Steiner says there will be a new one for Malaysia.
Honda should match Mercedes – Boullier
Eric Boullier the racing director of McLaren says the team are ready to win again and says Honda expect to match Mercedes’ power output in 2017.
The team are currently enduring the worst period in their history and haven’t won a race since Jenson Button stood on the top the podium since Brazil in 2012. Honda engine boss Yusuke Hasegawa says it’s their “expectation” that their 2017 power unit will match Mercedes in terms of outright power.
F1 Racing asked if McLaren we ready to win again, Boullier replied: “Of course we are. I think we are more than ever.” Boullier has overseen a change in philosophy at McLaren since joining the team in 2014, stating they “were an engineering company enjoying an engineering challenge.”
Currently there are limits on engine development making it harder to engineer your way to the top of the grid. “We had to decide on a concept that we believed would be a winning one and develop it over the years, not just months” added Boullier.
Boulier says if Honda can find horsepower for next season then they can be more aggressive in their aerodynamics when the new regulations are introduced next year.
Hopes of Americas boost
Organisers of the Mexican Grand Prix say they hope that the Liberty Media takeover will boost their race by expanding the races in North America similar to the European season.
Currently only Canada and the United States host rounds with the Mexico race being in Central America and Brazil hosting a round as well. However, plans for the Americas Grand Prix in New Jersey have failed to materialise.
Liberty agreed this month to take control of the global sport in a deal expected to lead to expansion in the U.S. market that Formula One has struggled to crack. In the past there were also races in various cities in the US as well as the Argentine Grand Prix.
Marketing director Rodrigo Sanchez told the Reuters news agency “When we are trying to build new audiences and bring new fans and create a new fan base, it does get a little complicated.”
“We wish we could have more and more races on prime time on our side of the world and I think the only way we will get that is if, collaboratively, there start being more races in the region in general.
“It would be great to basically consolidate Formula One in North America” added Sanchez.