Ferrari needs Formula One, and Formula One needs Ferrari, it is often said. But growing unease at the top of Ferrari about the future direction of the sport, means the boss Sergio Marchionne has warned they could walk away.
Ferrari threatens to quit over future direction
Ferrari has threatened to quit Formula One over the future plans by the sports owners Liberty Media. Since the takeover by the US media company, they have been pushing to level the sport and make the sport more appealing to fans.
Last week, Liberty and the sport’s governing body the FIA outlined the broad proposals for the next set of engines regulations. But, Mercedes and Renault has already expressed doubts about the regulations, with Honda yet to comment.
On Thursday in a conference call, Ferrari’s president Sergio Marchionne revealed he was unimpressed by some of Liberty’s proposals. He said “”Liberty has got a couple of good intentions in all of this, one of which is to reduce the cost of execution of the team which I think is good. There are a couple of things we don’t necessarily agree with.”
“One is the fact that somehow powertrain uniqueness is not going to be one of the drivers of distinctiveness of the participants’ line-up. I would not countenance this going forward.” He says that the regulations are now at odds with the strategic development of the manufacturer.
Making it clear that unless it is “beneficial to the maintenance of the brand, and the marketplace, and to the strengthening of the unique position for Ferrari, Ferrari will not play.”
Ferrari are the only team to have taken part in every season of the championship, making them the most successful team in the sports history. They have won two hundred and twenty seven Grand Prix’s, fifteen drivers and sixteen constructors championships since the formation in 1950.
It is committed to F1 until the end of 2020 under the Concorde Agreement. Ferrari has threatened to walk away many a times, but this is the first time
“We are not friends,” said Lewis Hamilton at the height of his fight with Nico Rosberg over the last three years. But with the pair no longer fighting each other on track and almost a year on from his retirement how is there long standing friendship?
“Very positive” dynamics with Hamilton – Rosberg
Outgoing world champion Nico Rosberg says he found the internal dynamics with Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes “very positive” last season. The two drivers relationship became strained over the last three seasons as they fought for the title.
Last month, Hamilton suggested that Rosberg’s retirement at the end of 2016 had helped him to reach a new level because his departure had created an improved atmosphere in Mercedes.
When asked to respond, Rosberg used a quote from Hamilton “When you have two strong drivers in the team as we had, well, when the battle is within the team, it’s like a hurricane with strong energy and it is just stuck in the room.” He said that quote was quite a compliment.
The German suggested that he would not have done anything differently last season and says it was quite a positive season. He says the motivation was to drive, but it was an extremely intense and challenging battle.
Rosberg and Hamilton had been childhood friends and rivals in karting before their relationship broke down during their F1 title fights. Rosberg says he is open to having “normal” conversations with Hamilton again, now they are no longer competitors.
He added, “I’ve always had great respect for him, I don’t have anything against him, he was just a competitor and then naturally there was this difficult situation, but the base respect was always there.”
Carlos Sainz has surprised by his form in his first three races for Renault. But his first race for the team he out-qualified Nico Hulkenberg, after the race he reflected on that brilliant debut
Sainz didn’t expect to be competitive
Carlos Sainz says he did not expect “to be so competitive” after he switched to Renault for the final four races of the season. The Spaniard joined from Toro Rosso before the United States Grand Prix, where he got the ground running well by out-qualifying Nico Hulkenberg.
His first race saw him out-qualify his teammate Nico Hulkenberg which earnt him praise from the team and started eighth. But he spun early on but was eventually forced to retire because of a steering issue.
Asked by Autosport, if he had surprised himself by how well his switch from Toro Rosso had gone, Sainz said “A bit yes. I knew from the past when I switched teams in the lower categories, or when I did a test in F1 in 2013, that I could adapt very quickly to whatever you give me.”
“I know I am good at that, but I didn’t expect to be so competitive right from the start. It has been a positive start in that sense.” Sainz admitted that his teammate is still slightly ahead, but remains hopeful he can catch up before the end of the season.
Reliability remains a concern for the French manufacturer, however, he says the early impressions of how the team operates and the scale of progress have made him bullish about next season.
“I think the main progress has to come from the power unit and reliability – and that will immediately help our chances of being higher in the standings.” He explained.
“As well as that, with all the infrastructure and all the resources back in Enstone, I can only see the team going forward from now.” He also believes that four races with the team this year, will be a significant boost in understanding the car and how the team operates.
The tension between Renault and Toro Rosso over spilled in Brazil. The French manufacturer accused the Italian team of being behind the engine failures, while Renault says the cause the failures because of the way Toro Rosso fits the engine. So why did both team bosses feel they needed to defend their teams?
I needed to respond to Renaults criticism
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost says he felt he needed to defend the team after engine supplier Renault suggested that the way the team operated its power units has contributed to the team’s recent engine failures.
In Brazil Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsport.com that there was “never coincidences in this sport” and in response, Toro Rosso issued a subsequently issued a statement denying that it was at fault.
It suggested that Renault’s own pursuit of sixth place in the constructors’ championship, currently held by the Faenza team, had played a role in recent events.
That statement, in turn, infuriated Renault and brought a clarification from Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko. Tost told Motorsport.com “I had the feeling that I had to say something. You know, that if the team is being criticised.”
“We feel this is not 100 percent correct, then we have to give a statement. And this is what we did. Whether it’s done correctly or not is another question. We just clarified our point of view.”
Asked if the matter was now over, he said: “I think so, I didn’t hear anything anymore, so that’s it.” Renault outscored Toro Rosso by a point in Brazil. But, Toro Rosso holds a four-point lead over Renault.
Tost said the drop from sixth to eighth could cost STR $6.5m in F1 prize money, making Abu Dhabi a critical race for all three teams. Adding “ It’s very stressful. We will try to prepare in the best possible way, with as many reliable parts as we have. Regarding our power unit supplier, we don’t have this under our control, this is their decision.”
Marko admits the problems are frustrating for both teams, saying “They haven’t cured the problem yet, and they’re running out of parts, and then the situation happens like it does. Unfortunately, Toro Rosso was affected more than any other team, so that’s why the emotion went up.”
Over the last few years the number of engines that drivers can use during the season has been reduced from eight to four. But is that too far? Lewis Hamilton believes that the move would have an impact on racing.
Reduction in engines “sucks” – Hamilton
Four times world champion Lewis Hamilton says it “sucks” that the limit of engines that drivers can use next season is being reduced from four to three before they incur grid penalties.
The Mercedes driver says that reducing the number of engines means that drivers would mean that the drivers wouldn’t be able to push as often. Also, that the increased weight due to the introduction of the halo and the need to manage engines was making racing unappealing.
Hamilton told BBC News “I don’t like the idea of going to three. That sucks. Sprinting is what we are missing in F1. The car is going to be a bus next year, it is going to be so heavy, like a Nascar.” The four-time champion says he was able to push harder because he had fitted a new power unit.
He added “The braking distances get longer, the brakes are always on fire, on the limit. It sounds negative but as a racer, we want fast, nimble cars where we can attack always every single lap.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says he believes that five is enough for the entire season but plans to stop the reduction to three next season has failed. Also, the customer teams have expressed concern that they are penalised for engine failures rather than manufacturers.
Record breaking in its day, but still breaking records today. A new record was set as Michael Schumacher’s 2001 title winner.
Schumacher’s title winner sold for five million
Michael Schumacher’s 2001 title winning car has been sold for £5.7 million which is believed to be a record for a modern Grand Prix car. The F12001 complete with the chassis in which Schumacher won his fourth title and his last win in Monaco.
The car was so superior Ferrari took it into 2002 where Schumacher took pole and victory in Melbourne and pole at Sepang, before being retired.
Sotheby’s had estimated that the F2001 would sell for between $4-5.5m (£3-4m) in Thursday’s auction
That’s all from Reporters this week, goodbye