Reporters – 23/09/2018

Features This Week

Esteban Ocon’s talent is well known, but the Frenchman despite solid performances for Force India and the support of Mercedes, he faces being squeezed out amongst the driver market. So why does he believe he can make it to the top?

Ocon remains determined to get to the top

Esteban Ocon says he is determined to make it to the top of Formula One, despite it looking likely that the Frenchman will miss out on a race seat next season. The Mercedes backed driver is highly rated, but set to be squeezed out amongst the sports politics.

Speaking to the BBC, Ocon said, “We have been in tough situations before and have always overcome them. There was no easy way throughout my career. I can promise you that I will not give up at this moment.”

In a Tweet, he added “Motivation is high. My old-time rivals are in top cars and this makes me hungrier than ever. I’m born to race and my only goal is to be champion, and will always be.” The messages were posted on the day Ferrari announced that Charles Leclerc was being promoted to a seat as Sebastian Vettel’s team-mate in 2019.

Ocon has missed out on a contract with the senior Mercedes drive next season, and following the takeover of Force India, it is highly expected that Lance Stroll will replace him. His ties to Mercedes have meant that he has not been an attractive option for other teams, while Mercedes feel he is too good to let go.

Even so, it had looked for some time as if Ocon would get a race drive next year, only for his plans to unravel. Renault and McLaren also had discussions about Ocon, there were reports that he could join Renault. However, Renault signed the Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo to partner Nico Hulkenberg next season.

That led to Renault dismissing the option of Ocon, while McLaren had already committed in the meantime to signing Carlos Sainz from Renault as a replacement for Fernando Alonso, who is leaving F1 at the end of the season.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said: “With Esteban, it looked like we had a deal with Renault and within 48 hours things changed and agreements suddenly were not agreements any more.”

“But I can understand the rationale of Renault getting Ricciardo on board. And it would be really a shame if a tiny issue or in transparent communication would be the reason for such a kid with ability not to find the right seat for next year.”

Haas are said by sources to have already re-signed Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, even if they have not said so yet, and Williams is reluctant to take Ocon.


It was just another poor weekend for Nelson Piquet Jr, in 2008. No, the Crashgate scandal erupted in 2009, ten years on the biggest question remains and will it ever be answered?

Crashgate 10 years on

This weekend, Singapore marks ten years in F1 but the race was marked by one of the biggest political scandals in the history of the sport. The ‘Crashgate’ scandal leads to the downfall of Renaults team principal Fabio Briatore.

The facts are the same… Nelson Piquet crashed deliberately into the wall on lap fourteen following Fernando Alonso’s pit stop. The ‘accident’ brought out the safety car bringing Alonso into the lead of the race. Data from the car showed the Brazilian continuously pressing hard on the throttle even after the back of the car drifted out “in the knowledge that this would lead to my car making heavy contact with the concrete wall”.

Fast forward to the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Piquet went to the FIA and accused Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds of asking him to crash, prompting an inquiry and leading to Renault being charged with race fixing.

Piquet was given immunity from prosecution by the FIA courts, for his evidence. Briatore and Symonds denied the conversations, but Renault was found guilty of race-fixing.

Max Mosley, the former FIA boss, announced there would be no fine for Renault and their punishment would be a suspended two-year sentence, which the team subsequently did not serve.

Briatore was later banned for life from FIA sports, however, he won an appeal and was later given a five-year ban. Currently, he is Alonso manager.

Symonds returned to the sport as technical director following a five-year ban. He currently works under F1 managing director for sporting and technical matters Ross Brawn as an advisor on technical matters.

Piquet went on to win the 2014-15 Formula E championship with Renault.

Ten years on, the biggest question remains, whose idea was it to get Piquet to crash? and will the truth ever be clear? “But it remains the worst cases of cheating in sporting history” according to the then BBC F1 correspondent Ted Kravitz


Last weekend, F1 introduced an upgraded app, however, the sports owners Liberty Media faced a barrage of complaints from fans and journalists. So how are they planning to respond?  

Revising timing app a priority

Formula One says improving its new app is a priority after an upgrade for timing app received a barrage of complaints during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.

The sports owners Liberty Media introduced a new version of the app on mobile devices, which featured a revised timing screen reducing the amount of data which could be viewed on a single screen. Reviews of the app online criticise the limitations on live timing.

Complaints include the number of drivers visible on the screen without scrolling being reduced to as few as seven, and the new arrangement requiring users to switch between multiple screens to gather information previously available on one.

Speaking to Autosport, a spokesperson said “We have updated the app platform with a view to introduce an additional range of new features both in the short and long term.”

“As part of the usual development program of an app, there are a number of new releases already in the pipeline. We are aware of the issues related to the live timing feature and this is one of the priorities of the next releases.”

However, it is understood that downgrading the app is not on the cards, as the upgrade has heavily improved other areas. The main reason why the upgrade was introduce was that some people were finding it too difficult to read, leading to an increase in font size and the ill-fated attempt to make it easier to use.

While the timescale for changes to the live timing function is not clear, it is believed that there will be upgrades made to the app over the remaining races of the 2018 season.


Germany will be on the calendar next year. But why was the Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff prepared to sponsor next year’s race and what needs to be done for long-term backing?

Mercedes convinced to save German GP

Mercedes F1 CEO Toto Wolff says that F1 CEO Case Carey and commercial managing director Sean Bratches convinced the German car manufacturer to support next year’s German Grand Prix.

Mercedes will become the title sponsor of next years race at Hockenheim, after the circuit agreed on a one-year extension with Liberty. Wolff has always maintained that Mercedes would not get involved in promoting or supporting its home race.

However, he insists that circumstances have changed, and that his bosses were convinced by Carey and Bratches that their input would make a difference. He told, “In Hockenheim on Sunday morning some of our board members were there and Chase and Sean pitched it very well.”

“We had full grandstands, lots of action, and enthusiastic crowds at Hockenheim, and they asked if we were able to bridge the [financial] gap.” He said that Mercedes considered the deal over the summer and the board decided we want a home race.

Wolff added, “I think it’s about finding out how we can best activate the German GP next year and see how to maximise it for the fans, for Mercedes people and for us.”

“We will try to put on a good show, display cars, and decide whether it works for us and whether we want to continue or not. We have an option for 2020.”


That’s all from this edition of Reporters, goodbye


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.

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