FIA relationship with F1 could amount to bribery
ITV News say they have seen confidential documents from the UK’s Serious Fraud Office, saying that the relationship between the sport and the regulator the FIA could amount to bribery.
ITV say that the 2013 Concorde Agreement, reorganised the sport giving more power to the commercial rights holder and the FIA while reducing the influence of the sport’s four smallest racing teams, two of which have collapsed.
Details of the agreement say that the FIA was given £3.9m and 1% stake for entering the agreement. The FIA are posed to be the sports independent regulator, there according to experts a strong argument that the Concorde Implementation Agreement between F1 and the FIA may have broken the law.
Jonathan Fisher QC, a barrister who specialises in corporate and financial crime, told ITV News that the deal has potentially breached sections 1, 2 and 7 of The Bribery Act.
The agreement ends in 2020. This is bound to raise questions whether the FIA profited from the £6.4bn takeover by Liberty Media. The FIA had the power to block the deal. The FIA approved the transaction in January and went on to cash in its shares in return for $80 million (£62.4m)
The FIA says the Concorde Implementation Agreement ensured that the FIA is “properly remunerated for its regulatory role” The FIA insists “no individual received any payment out of this sum”.
Chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone, says he was not involved with the negotiation of the deal and recommended we contact Donald MacKenzie, chairman of CVC Capital Partners.
Tonight the SFO said it was “reviewing material in its possession”. A pre-investigation process is underway although the SFO added that it “does not comment on the progress of such assessments”.
Mclaren can’t ease development
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says his team cannot afford to ease off the development there chassis, even while their engine lacks the power to compete properly.
Honda has had a tough start to the season, with the engine lacking power and reliability. McLaren is also looking to have an aggressive development program, including trying many different rear wings in last week’s test.
McLaren knows there is little chance that the horsepower deficit, but the Frenchman says the worst thing they can do is sit back and wait for Honda to get their house in order.
Boullier told Autosport, that development was important “first of all because racing is in our DNA, but second because if we just give up then everything collapses. So we can’t collapse.”
“We are responsible for the chassis performance, so we have to make sure that we have a good chassis and that we develop it.” He also, says that McLaren needs to make sure they have a good chassis.
He also says the team needs to prepare for the years ahead knowing there is stability in the regulations for the next three years. This is all about the platform for the future.
Honda’s F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa returned to Japan immediately after the Bahrain Grand Prix to oversee the progress of its engine developments on the company’s dynos.
These changes may not be in place for several races, Boullier added Honda was aware that things had to change quickly.
Mercedes advantage is over – Perez
Force India’s Sergio Perez says that Mercedes advantage in the current hybrid era is over. Mercedes who supply the British-based team, have held the advantage over the other manufacturers since the current regulations were introduced in 2014.
For the first time, Mercedes aren’t appearing to dominate so far this season with Ferrari leading the world championship going into Sochi this weekend. Perez believes the German manufacturer only has a big advantage over Honda.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, he said: “I definitely think that Ferrari is at the same level as Mercedes.”
“Renault is more or less there. We [Mercedes] only have the advantage to Honda. Ferrari and Renault have done a massive step forward to catch Mercedes.” Mercedes power has dominated in Sochi in recent years.
Despite most of the midfield teams bringing upgrades, Force India are still fourth despite not bringing upgrades. Perez says this weekend the team will need to make the most of the car, before a major upgrade for Barcelona.
Perez said “We will see in Barcelona what we are able to do compared to everyone else. We are fourth in the constructors’ at the moment, so we are looking good”
Aeroscreen criticised by Magnussen
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen has criticised the plan to introduce the ‘aeroscreen’ to protect the drivers head from debris, saying that it could make racing in wet conditions dangerous.
On Tuesday, following a meeting of the strategy group and commission, the FIA said it will prioritise testing a clear screen over the controversial halo device, which was tested by all teams last year.
The FIA is committed to introducing additional protection in 2018. He told a press conference in Sochi “I think it’s going to be difficult, especially in the wet, with the screen. Even without a screen, in the wet, it’s difficult to see anything.”
“I’m sure with that as well, it’s going to be impossible and more dangerous in wet conditions.” The Halo is the only device that the FIA has approved for use next season after the screen failed safety tests by the FIA.
The shield has now been proposed with a shallower angle than on the aeroscreen. This is the device that will be tested this year. But, the halo has passed all the safety test and all drivers will try the device in practice this year.
The FIA have made a change to the second corner of the Sochi Autodrom to deter drivers from cutting the second corner. Speed bumps have been added, as well as alterations to the kerbs.
Turn two has seen speed bumps added to deter drivers from cutting the corner, with the kerbs being slightly altered. Turn two is the beginning of the long arch around the medal plaza, used for the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The FIA has told drivers 50mm-high orange speed bumps have been placed three metres from the edge of the track at the exit of Turn 2.
In his race notes, Race Director Charlie Whiting noted: “1 Speed bumps 50mm high and painted fluorescent orange have been placed 3 metres from the track edges either side of the kerb on the apex of the start of turn 3 (the exit of turn 2).”
“Improvements to the TecPro barriers have been made in turns 2, 4 and 13.”
Hamilton calls for teamwork
Lewis Hamilton says that he will need to work with team-mate Valtteri Bottas “more than ever” to defeat Ferrari – meaning team orders could be used again during 2017.
The three times champion says that the team are hoping they can launch a “counterattack” on Ferrari this weekend. Ferrari outpaced Mercedes in Bahrain, with the team using the test to try and get on top of the problems with race pace.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, winner of two of the opening three races, seven points ahead of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship. The battle between the two has been evenly matched, as they have both been on the podium three times this season.
Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas struggled for pace in Bahrain but failed to cede the position to allow Hamilton to attack Vettel in the latter part of the race.
Hamilton admits such orders are “something I’ve never particularly liked”, but says Mercedes’ code of conduct makes clear the team’s interests must come first. Nonetheless, he would expect orders to be imposed “only in special circumstances”.
Hamilton says its in their contract that a win for the team is more important than a win for yourself.
Mercedes are facing a genuine threat from Ferrari, meaning the use of team orders may need to be used. Hamilton added, “I’ve never really understood it [team orders] in the past, but it’s a difficult one.”
“It’s not really for me to [discuss]. There’ll may be a race where I’m not quick enough and Valtteri’s got a chance to get ahead, I’ve got to let him go
That’s all from F1 Today this week and we will be bringing you full coverage of the Russian Grand Prix this weekend, with commentary of every session @F1VaultLive on Twitter. F1 Today returns next week, with Notebook Friday evening. Preview here