Never returning to active leadership – Ecclestone
Chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone says he will never return to an active leadership role in Formula One, saying he “couldn’t do a better job” than Liberty Media.
Ecclestone was removed from his post as CEO in January, following the take-over by the US media giant. But, has been appointed chairman emeritus, it is a role without any power over the sport. Ecclestone’s job was split between Ross Brawn and Sean Bratches.
Liberty has already started several fan initiatives this year and hopes to radicalise the way the sport engages with social media and digital markets in the next few years.
Speaking to BT Sport’s Clare Balding Show, broadcast tonight, Ecclestone said: “I’ve been thrown out and someone else is going to do a better job and I’m quite sure if I went back I couldn’t do a good a job as they’re going to do. So I shouldn’t go back.”
Ecclestone has made it clear before that he thinks he was ousted in a coup, despite saying Liberty asked him to stay for three more years. He has since accused Liberty of trying to erase his legacy from F1’s history books.
He uses his appearance on the show to reiterate his surprise at how events unfolded at the start of the year.
“I wasn’t ready because before they actually signed everything up, they had asked me to stay for three years, so I was a bit shocked when they asked me to stand down.
Title battle was going to boil over – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that it was inevitable that the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel was going to boil over at some point.
The two title rivals collided twice behind the second safety car during Sundays Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Vettel was given a penalty for hitting Hamilton, but has refused to apologise for the incident, with Hamilton labelling the incident as “disgraceful.”
After seven races which has shown mutual respect and appreciation between the two, the remain races look as they will be fought in a very different manner. Speaking to ESPN, Wolff said, “The sport needs the rivalry and I think what we have seen in Baku has the ingredients of a great championship.”
“At a certain stage the best ones compete for the world championship and in that phase of their life and career, they can’t be friends. Maybe we have seen a limitation of their respect.” He added.
Wolff said he doesn’t want the fight between the two teams to create ill-feeling between the two teams, describing Ferrari as the enemy during races. But after the race, both teams must acknowledge each other success and performance.
Button against further action on Vettel
McLaren’s reserve driver Jenson Button has waded into the row about Sebastian Vettel’s conduct during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, saying he has been punished enough for driving into title rival Lewis Hamilton.
On Wednesday the FIA announced they were looking into the incident and they could take further disciplinary actions against Vettel. Button Tweeted “Azerbaijan GP was a pleasure to watch. Why? because adrenaline and emotions were high. What Vettel did was silly but he’s been punished. Move on”
Vettel was handed a ten-second stop-go penalty for his actions which have been described by many as “road rage.” But Button disagrees saying “I don’t think you can class it as road rage when it’s not on the road, you can’t compare racing with driving on the road as racing wouldn’t exist.”
Liberty appoints new head of marketing
Liberty Media has appointed Virgin Media’s advertising and sponsorship boss, Ellie Norman, as its new head of marketing.
Norman joins Formula One after five years as Virgin’s head of advertising and expanded the Virgin Media brand campaigns including the Usain Bolt 9.58-second work. Virgin Media is also owned by the US media company.
Norman has also worked for Honda Europe, leading communication strategy and had responsibility for pan-European advertising, media, digital and print.
Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations, said: “Ellie’s appointment represents the latest addition to our expanding management team, aimed at increasing engagement with Formula 1 fans globally.”
“Her previous experience across major automotive and media brands will help Ellie to drive Formula 1’s marketing strategy forward.
Norman added: “The commercial potential of the brand is enormous and I can’t wait to work with Sean and the growing Formula 1 team to unlock new opportunities to engage with Formula One fans around the world.”
I need to get better with breaks – Grosjean
Haas’s Romain Grosjean has admitted he needs to get better at driving around the persistent break problem that the car suffers from.
The American team has had recurring problems with their breaks since they entered the sport last season. Everything they have tried to fix the problems, including a switch of supplier, has failed to resolve the issue.
Haas had optimism that the issue had finally been solved but the Azerbaijan Grand Prix highlighted new issues. Grosjean told Motorsport.com “I just need to be better in those conditions and improve myself. There are things behind the scenes but I’m not blaming anything.”
“The brake feeling has been terrible all weekend long but Kevin’s got the same comment and he can drive around [it], that’s why I’m saying I don’t want to blame anything.”
He added: “Braking is my strength, since Formula Renault. But when things are not working as I want, it’s my biggest weakness.”
When asked why Magnussen had better luck at driving around the issues, team principal Gunther Steiner said that it could be down to the Frenchman’s driving style.
Steiner said, “Romain maybe brakes later and harder and then turns, and maybe Kevin brakes into it and turns already, so maybe it’s easier to feel the brake.”
“I’m not a race car driver so for me I just can see it from data and my experience what people do, but that is what my gut feeling, a different driving style – and therefore Kevin can drive around it a little bit more.”
Mercedes change headrest
Mercedes are to make changes ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix to their headrest, following Lewis Hamilton’s detachment during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Hamilton was on course for victory in Baku, before his headrest became loose forcing him into a pit stop while leading the race. The Brit could have taken the lead of the championship, but the stop meant he fell behind title rival Sebastian Vettel.
The team’s investigation concluded that the length of the locking pins at the back of the headrest, where it attaches to the car, most likely played a part.
Mercedes have changed the design to an extra fail-safe to help ensure that the headrest is fully locked in place whenever it is fitted to the car.