Reporters – 20/09/2020

Features

Racing Point has been at the centre of the row about copying this season, this has prompted the FIA to clamp down on regulations to prevent reverse engineering. But the team believe they will not be impacted by this…

Copying clampdown has “zero impact”

Racing Points team principal Otmar Szafnauer says the new clampdown on copying other cars will have “zero impact” on Racing Point’s business model.

The FIA announced earlier this month it will be changing the regulations slightly from next season to prevent teams from reverse engineering other designs through photography. This was prompted by the design of the teams 2020 car which was based on the title-winning Mercedes W10 from 2019.

Racing Point was found to have illegally copied the rear brake duct design of the 2019 Mercedes but will fight the case in the FIA’s International Court of Appeal.

Both FIA head of single-seaters Nikolas Tombazis and secretary-general for motorsport Peter Bayer have confirmed they will put an end to car copying by updating the regulations for next year. Szafnauer believes despite the changes to the regulations it will not have any impact on the Silverstone-based squad’s business model moving forward.

Szafnauer told Motorsport.com “I don’t think it changes our business model at all. We’re not the most affected team. We’ve got 500 employees. The reason we don’t have 700 or 800 like some of the bigger teams is that we lack in-house manufacturing.”

“But if you just compare us to everyone else in design, development, aero personnel, we are the same. We’re the same as the big teams. It has zero impact. We’ve always been a constructor, from the days of Jordan to the days of Racing Point and everywhere in between.”

He says that the team has the capability of designing and manufacturing their own parts within the regulations. The technical partnership with Mercedes means that it receives some non-listed parts that it does not design itself, which it claims prompted it to follow Mercedes’ design concept.

Racing Point will continue to race with the RP20 car through 2021 following the decision to carry over the existing chassis in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but will then have to design its own car from scratch for the new regulations in 2022.

However, this means some teams have lodged an appeal saying the sanctions don’t go far enough. While other teams are calling just for “clarity and transparency” about car copying rules.

 

Since that piece was filed in August, Racing Point has withdrawn that appeal. At the end of August, F1 returned to Spa a year on from the death of Anthoine Hubert in F2. Charles Leclerc who won that race and was a close friend of Hurbert spoke about the return to Spa…

“difficult” return to Spa a year on from Hubert’s death

Charles Leclerc says returning to the Belgian Grand Prix a year after the death of friend Anthoine Hubert will be difficult. Hubert was killed during last years Formula Two race at Spa following a high-speed crash.

The loss deeply affected many of the F1 drivers, who had to confront their own mortality in a way many had not experienced before. For many, it was the first driver fatally during a Grand Prix weekend since Imola in 1994 when Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger were killed.

Also, since Jules Bianchi died from injuries nine months after the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

Leclerc told BBC News, “Spa-Francorchamps has a special place in my heart. While it is here that I took my first win, it is also where we lost our friend Anthoine last year. He will be in our thoughts.”

The whole paddock was shaken by the incident, for many the first time they had come face to face their own mortality in a way many had not experienced before.

Pierre Gasly, added, “Spa is my favourite track and racing through all those high-speed corners is a great thrill. I really enjoy driving it and have had great races there in the past.”

“However, this year, returning to Belgium will also be a sad moment, because it is just one year ago that Anthoine lost his life after that terrible accident in the F2 race in Spa.”

This weekend marks the first anniversary of the accident.

 

2020 has been a year when all our life’s have changed and of course F1 drivers aren’t any different. Lewis Hamilton spoke earlier in the month about the impact of the weight on him…

Hamilton speaks of “weight” of global events

Lewis Hamilton has spoken about “a lot of weight on my heart”, amid the global events of 2020. The six-times champion has been leading the campaign for greater diversity and opportunity in both motorsport and society.

Following the death of Chadwick Boseman, the American actor best known for playing the superhero Black Panther, Hamilton dedicated his pole position at Spa-Francorchamps to a man he described as having “moved a generation”.

The Mercedes driver dedicated his win to the actor, while reflected on the emotion he felt on hearing the news on Saturday morning of Boseman’s passing.

Hamilton on his build-up to the Spa weekend, saying, “I think that naturally, we had that week off, I got good training at home and arrived here feeling fairly relaxed, and then obviously I woke up yesterday morning and… I mean, I’ve generally been feeling a lot of weight on my heart, spirit.”

“You know, when you’re watching the news, when you see what’s happening around the world and I feel really quite affected by it and then obviously I was so incredibly proud when Chadwick was Black Panther.”

“I mentioned all the reasons yesterday, as a kid, dreaming of superheroes and finally see someone, a superhero of a similar colour to me, was really just such a remarkable moment, I think, for the black community.”

Hamilton has spoken out against the British governments handling of Coronavirus, about racism, over the last few months.

 

The Williams family left Formula One two weeks ago ending the end of an era of team owners who run teams. The incredible story of Sir Frank and his team is one of the greatest triumphs through tragedy and difficulties…

Williams triumphs and tragedy

The story of Williams is one of triumph and tragedy

Born during the war, Frank became hooked on racing at an early age but he soon found he wasn’t a great driver. He then found himself becoming a car dealer then a racing team in Formula Two before the pre-curser to the team entered F1 in 1969, buying a chassis from Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham.

In their second  Grand Prix, the team finished on the podium and second in the US. As the team came to grow a shocking accident at Zandvoort left Piers Courage was killed after his car exploded after somersaulting off at Oost corner.

As the team reach rock bottom and the money dried up Frank would not give up on his dream. He sold his original team to Walter Wolf in 1976 before founding the current Williams team the following season.

Partnering with Sir Patrick Head the two men would build what is the most successful privateer teams in F1’s history. Based in a carpet warehouse the team managed to sign there first world champion Alan Jones and backing from Saudia.

This laid the foundations for the team to become major players in the sport, podium followed in 1978 and the following season the team took five wins. Jones then went onto secure the driver’s championship and the team back to back constructors in 1980.

Frank appeared to have everything he dreamed of, his life and future of the team would be placed in doubt following a car accident driving back from Paul Ricard in 1986. The Englishman crashed suffering injuries which left him paralysed but despite advised to turn off his life support, Lady Williams refused.

Frank returned to the sport, as the team won that and the following season’s drivers and constructors. Then would go on to dominate the sport and be a leading player through the 1990s.

Even attracting three times champion Ayrton Senna, but Senna and Frank’s dream would end with Senna’s accident at Tamburello at Imola in 1994.

Damon Hill in 1996 and Jack Villeneuve the following season remain the teams’ final champions. Since then there have been brief spells of brilliants but despite being third in 2014 and 2015 the team has found itself rooted to the bottom of the sport for the first time in their history.

 

Lewis Hamilton has been a vocal voice on climate change and that has prompted him to take his first steps into team ownership. Extreme E will begin next year, why was the six times champion attracted to the series?

Hamilton launches Extreme E team

Lewis Hamilton has launched his new Extreme E team which will race in the first all-electric off-road racing series, which aims to shed light on environmental issues.

For the six-times champion, it marks his first foray into motorsport team ownership, although he will not drive or be involved in the day-to-day operation of the outfit – X44, which references his F1 car number. In a year where Hamilton has been vocal on many issues, he has put his money into a project which aims to tackle one.

Alongside Black Lives Matter and Coronavirus, Hamilton has also called for change to tackle global climate and sustainability issues and says the new series will allow him the chance to help make a positive difference.

Hamilton of the series that starts in 2021, “Extreme E is an exciting new sustainability initiative, and this is a great opportunity to be involved from the outset as a team founder.”

“Of course, my ambitions and commitments with Mercedes in Formula 1 mean that I won’t be operationally involved in X44, but I’m excited to play a different role in this new series, one that brings my vision for a more sustainable and equal world to life.”

Extreme E will race in five remote locations that are already damaged or under threat from climate issues, such as the Brazilian rain forest and the mountains of Nepal, with teams to run male and female drivers.

Hamilton says that Extreme E appealed to him because of its environmental focus, and shows that everyone can make a difference. He says it combines his love of racing and the planet to have a positive impact.

 

Sebastian Vettel’s future was decided with him joining Aston Martin. As he and the team currently called Racing Point, look to rebuild there reputations what are the reasons for this partnership…

Reputation’s to re-established

Racing Point has massive step forwards although the teams rise to the third-fastest team this season. However, that has opened a row about its close resemblance to Mercedes.

Last month they were docked 15 points and fined 400,000 euros for illegally copying Mercedes’ 2019 brake ducts and using them on their 2020 car. The case has led to rule clarifications for next season that are aimed at preventing such wholesale copying of one team’s car by another ever happening again.

Sebastian Vettel’s reputation has also taken a hit with five difficult seasons where he failed to deliver a title for Ferrari. He was blighted by mistakes in 2015, 2017 and 2018 which cost him the chance of a title. He remains the fourth most successful driver in the sport.

Aston Martin returns to Formula One after sixty years, although this is a rebrand it comes after Lawrence Stroll brought the Force India team, which had been lurching from one financial crisis to the next for some time.

Stroll made his fortune in fashion but has had a lifelong fascination with F1 and has a large collection of classic cars. Stroll now needs to find the money lost by Sergio Perez who brought millions in terms of sponsorship. The Coronavirus pandemic forced Ferrari to part company with Vettel which changed the landscape of the driver market and Stroll viewed signing him as too good an opportunity to miss.

However, Vettel’s reputation is not what it was, after three difficult years at Ferrari. Vettel won four consecutive titles with Red Bull from 2010-13 and joined Ferrari in 2015 after a year in which his new team-mate, Daniel Ricciardo, had beaten him.

Vettel helped build Ferrari until they were title contenders against Hamilton and Mercedes in both 2017 and 2018, but each year they fell short, partly because of a string of errors by the driver.

The arrival of Charles Leclerc seemed to unsettle Vettel, with the twenty-two-year-old to establish himself as the team leader. Leclerc scored more pole positions, out-qualified Vettel more often than the other way around, won more races and scored more points.

Also, there were a series of flashpoints between the two drivers as they battled for supremacy, culminating in them crashing out of the Brazilian Grand Prix together.

Ferrari then committed to Leclerc for five years and then decided not to renew Vettel’s contract. They instead signed Carlos Sainz.

The signing of Vettel is just the latest twist in the 2021 driver market, and now eyes will turn to Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton is yet to formally commit to Mercedes, with the future of CEO and team principal Toto Wolff ‘considering his future’.

That’s all from this edition of Reporters, goodbye

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.