Over the past few months, Ferrari has been very vocal about the future of the sport, warning that it will walk away from the sport if the condition aren’t right. However, Formula E boss Alejandro Agag believes that the threats are not real. But why?
Ferrari not serious about walking from F1
Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag believes threats by Ferrari to quit Formula One are nothing more than a tactical business ploy. Since Liberty Media issued its vision for the future of the sport, Ferrari have said they will walk away unless conditions were favourable.
The Scuderia added to that threat when the threatened to form a breakaway series and warned F1 bosses to take its warning seriously or “risk playing with fire”. However, Agag believes that the threats are nothing more than a bargaining chip in the negotiations over the future of the sport.
He told ESPN “I think it does this [quit threat] probably in this moment to get a better negotiating position with F1. I guess they are going to have a negotiation soon about the new contract. So that is probably more a tactical move than a real move.”
Speaking on Tuesday when he unveiled a new title sponsor for the electric series, he said he believes Formula E could be the only viable motorsport by 2040.
Already Mercedes has announced plans for a factory team for 2019-20, with Ferrari also considering a entry. Ferrari says they want to see how FE develops in the next few years.
Agag says he has not yet held any talks with Ferrari over a possible switch and ruled out such a move from happening in the near-future.
Adding “I haven’t had any direct discussions with Sergio Marchionne or Ferrari and Fiat is a group that has not done so much on electric. I think they will eventually, but I think it will take time for them. Of course we would love to have them, but I don’t see this happening soon.”
The current format of race weekends has been the same for eleven years. But is the format now not fit for the modern era with the plan to increase the number. What suggestions has Ross Brawn got to change the format?
Brawn suggests changes in weekend format
Formula One managing director for sporting operations Ross Brawn, says that the format of Friday practices could change. Currently, the sport has two ninety minute sessions, but the Englishman says that could change in the future.
Brawn told Sky Sports “I think the length of a grand prix is about right. It’s not too long, it’s not too short, it engages you. We want a grand prix to evolve and have its highlights and come together at the end.”
“So I’m not sure that we should be thinking in terms of changing a grand prix length.” He says that it’s up for discussion whether you need two Friday sessions with an increasing number of races.
The Englishman is also looking at ways of getting fans closer to the sport, suggesting that open scrutineering could allow the fans to get closer to the cars and drivers.
Saying “It’s an essential part for the fans. So over a race weekend, could we do more to let the fans get closer to the cars? One proposal is to have open scrutineering, so the cars literally have to go out into the field to be scrutineered so the fans can come and see them.”
Also suggested this week was the way the grid is formed. But how is virtual reality and simulation helping the sport to experiment?
Looking changes to grid formation
Formula One bosses are evaluating making changes to the way the grid lines up according to former Benetton, Renault and Williams technical director Pat Symonds.
Symonds is part of Ross Brawn’s working group looking at ways of improving the sport future direction. Speaking at the MIA’s Entertainment & Energy-Efficient Motorsport Conference, Symonds said F1 is testing out potential regulation changes in the virtual world using eSports to assess their effectiveness.
“We’re keen to use virtual environments to test some of these regulations. What we can do then is look at statistics. It gives you a chance to do things you can’t otherwise simulate in an easy manner.
“I’ll give you an example of something we’ve been thinking about this year. For a number of years, the starting grid for F1 has been a staggered formation. We know one of our problems is that we put the fastest car on the grid and not only do we do that but we separate them.”
He reminded people that there were times when three cars started on the front row. Brawn believes that these ideas are best tested out in the virtual world so you could see what happens.
Symonds cites the qualifying faciso in 2016 as a good example of what could be tested in the virtual world before being implemented on track.
Last year, Sauber announced a new partnership with Ferrari which included the team being rebranded as Alfa Romeo. But could Haas also follow suit and are they open to such a deal?
Haas open to Sauber style partnership
The Haas team say that they would be open to rebranding the team in a similar way to Sauber but has said there is nothing on the horizon.
Last month, Ferrari and Sauber announced a new expanded partnership with the Swiss team becoming a fully-fledged junior team, as well as being rebranded as Alfa Romeo Sauber from 2018. The team will also be running Ferrari’s junior driver Charles Leclerc.
When asked by Autosport, if Ferrari and Haas have ever discussed the American team getting the Alfa branding, Haas team principal Gunther Steiner replied “no, not with us, nothing.” The rumours about Haas getting a partnership with Maserati, which is part of the same group as Ferrari and Alfa, are understood to be wide of the mark.
But, Steiner added that the team would be open to talks, saying “Why not? We are open always to talks. If somebody’s got some ideas, yeah, for sure we are interested in it. But is it our priority? Maybe not.”
Most of the team’s finances have come from team owner Gene Haas’s other businesses, with Steiner saying that situation was not ideal and ultimately the team wanted external investment.
Saying “I think that’s a priority, it’s just difficult to get sponsors. You see it on the other teams, the big teams, even they struggle. And for us as a small team, it’s even more difficult.”
However, he says the team must not sell itself too cheaply as they wouldn’t get the value for money.
And that’s all from Reporters for this week, goodbye!