Reporters – 24/03/2019

Features

As negotiations continue about the future of Formula One continues this week Red Bull set out its red lines. Why is Christian Horner warning that the team’s owner Dietrich Mateschitz could pull the plug if he’s not happy?

F1 has to “deliver” to keep Red Bull

Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner says F1 has to “deliver” if the drinks manufacturer is to maintain its presence in Formula One beyond 2021.

None of the ten teams and Liberty Media has agreed to the Concorde Agreement which expires on the 31st December 2020. The agreements cover commercial arrangements between the teams and owners, however, the bigger teams are worried about plans to level the field and reduction in their prize money.

The other concern for Red Bull is that it is not a fully fledged works team, despite its deal with Honda it has doubts about how equitable any restrictions could be. Horner acknowledged that Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz could pull the plug if he’s not happy with the shape of F1 in 2021.

He told Motorsport.com “Absolutely, and that’s his right. He’s passionate about motorsport, he’s passionate about F1, he’s enthusiastic about the new engine partnership with Honda and the potential that brings, but of course, F1 has to deliver for the Red Bull brand as well.”

“It needs to be exciting, it needs to be cost-effective, the racing’s got to be great, and we need to be able to play on an equal and level playing field with OEM and manufacturer teams.”

Horner says that he believes that a good start to life with Honda would be essential to maintaining Mateschitz’s motivation. Saying that he has always been tremendously supportive.

He added “Two F1 teams, a grand prix, plus all the promotion that Red Bull does around the world supporting F1, it’s enormous. He wouldn’t do that if he didn’t believe in the sport.”

Chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone believes that while there is no Concorde, there remains a risk that teams or manufacturers could pull out of the sport. He added “The longer they leave it, the worse it is for everyone – it’s worse for the teams, worse for Liberty.

“From what I understand, nobody has said the most important thing, which is this is what we want to pay you guys. We’d like a much better show, and we’re prepare to pay you this.”

 

Romain Grosjean retired from last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix. But why did the Haas team suffer its second retirement from the race because of a wheel nut issue?

Haause of nut horrors II

It was a case of deja vu for Haas because a wheelnut problem and a slow pit stop led to Romain Grosjean’s retirement for a second year in a row.

Twelve months on from last years wheelnut failure the Frenchman came in from seventh and the team had two attempts to try and fit the nut. He did rejoin the race in the midfield, and he retired 14 laps later when the wheel became loose.

Team principal Gunther Steiner said the “deja vu” retirement was the result of the wheelnut having been damaged during the troubled stop.

Steiner told reporters “On the pitstop you could see that there was an issue, He lost seven seconds and the race was gone there – even if he got to the end there wouldn’t have been points. They got the wheel back on, so we didn’t lose the wheel like last year. But after 15 laps it mechanically broke”

Asked if memories of last year had made Haas practice pitstops too much this season and make the process more tense, Steiner replied: “No, no, no, it’s difficult to define if you over-practice. We know not practicing doesn’t work!

“I think we did very good preparation this year. I’m not a big believer in being unlucky, you make your own luck.”

 

As F1 heartlands in Europe face an uncertain future with contracts rising to uncontrollable levels. Liberty Media has blamed chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone for the situation. But why do they believe he is to blame?

Liberty blames Ecclestone for race contract issues

Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei has blamed chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone for creating some of the problems they are facing when it comes to renewing contracts with race organisers.

While the sports owners have agreed on some new deals with newer races, it has struggled to renew deals with the historic Grand Prix, such as the German, Spanish, Italian, Mexican and British GPs are all coming to an end, and no renewals have been agreed as of yet.

In addition to the inevitable differences of opinion over fees, Mexico and Spain both have issues with the public funding that has hitherto supported the races.

Maffei says that former CEO and chairman emeritus Ecclestone had not helped by suggesting that races were paying too much under the very deals that he originally put together.

Maffei told a Deutsche Bank conference, “Bernie had done a very good job, arguably too good a job, and had drained the promoters, and we got a lot of blowback, partly because we’re public now and they can see the prices.”

“Also partly because Bernie suggested to a lot of them that they were overpaying. That didn’t help the cause. Exacerbating that are governments trying to pull back subsidies, in Mexico, other places – Spain. So that creates some challenges.”

Asked about potential new events, Maffei said  “We remain working on Miami, but there are obstacles to a lot of that.”

He also says that they were looking at races in the US including Las Vegas, and in Africa, F1 has not raced on the African continent since 1993. But he accepts it’s a balancing act between the historic European races and expansion in Asia.

But added “We’re not yet prepared to announce any, but there’s a careful mix or blend of where you want to grow and where you want to solidify.”

Regarding the already confirmed for 2020 Vietnam GP, Maffei said it “will be more exciting and a positive improvement over Malaysia, which was not differentiated enough from Singapore.

 

“I haven’t been to a weekend without Charlie,” words of Ross Brawn. On the eve of the season opener race director, Charlie Whiting passed away. In his five decades in the sport he became ringmaster but how will he be remembered

Whiting dies suddenly ahead of the Australian Grand Prix

Formula One race director Charlie Whiting has died suddenly aged sixty-six ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. The sports governing body the FIA confirmed this morning that he had pulmonary embolism on Thursday morning in Melbourne, three days before the first race of the 2019 season.

The British engineer who has been in the sport for five decades was one of the most respected, influential and well-liked figures across five decades in the paddock.

The British engineer began his career with Hesketh in 1977, before joining Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team where he was the chief mechanic and then chief engineer. He then joined the FIA, becoming a central part of the organisation’s running of F1 ever since.

The FIA has confirmed that the Australian Michael Masi will take Whiting’s place as race director, safety delegate and permanent starter this weekend in Melbourne.

His death leaves the sport with a big hole to fill, he was the go-to man from safety to technical to sporting matters. F1 has lost a man who did the most difficult jobs, pretty much wrote the rules by himself, and he did all this with a lightness of touch, approachability and ready sense of humour.

Whiting combined unquenchable energy, something close to workaholism and an easy manner to run the most complex of sports.

 

Read more on Charlie Whiting’s life here. In two years time, new regulations and other changes are due to be introduced to the sport. But while the broad terms have been agreed the finer details are needed. So why does Gunther Steiner say clarity is needed?                                                 

Teams need clarity on regulations

Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says that teams need clarity on the next set of regulations which will be introduced in 2021. The Strategy Group are due to meet and discuss the changes ahead of a final vote on the changes on Tuesday.

This will then be followed by a meeting of the F1 commission, where votes are undertaken involving all stakeholders. FIA president Jean Todt has indicated that progress has been made on 2021 and said that will be apparent at the meetings.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Steiner said “We need clarity, because there is a lot of talk going on. I think now Chase [Carey, F1 CEO] is ready to present something to us, and let’s see what he presents, and go from there.”

“I don’t know what is in there. We all talk between each other’s backs, so I don’t know in the end what F1 has come up with.” Asked if it was ‘frustrating’ he says he doesn’t know if that was the right word to describe it. Steiner says that everyone needs to understand the direction soon or it will not be possible to develop the cars.

He says that the meeting has a busy agenda and there are a number of things needing to be discussed including governance , the budget cap, the technical regulations.

Asked if teams were being informed about some elements of the technical package – the recent gearbox cassette tender is one of the few details in the public domain – Steiner said: “Yeah, but we are hearing about it. It’s not a done deal.

 

Lando Norris made his F1 debut in Melbourne and pulled off one of McLaren’s best season openers in recent years. But why does sporting director Gill de Ferran believe he drove like a veteran?

Norris drove like a veteran

McLaren’s sporting director Gil de Ferran believes that the teams new signing Lando Norris “drove like a veteran” on his Formula One debut at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Bristolian qualified eighth for his debut at Albert Park, but during the race went backwards after his first stop. This allowed Lance Stroll, Daniil Kvyat and Pierre Gasly to jump him, meaning he finished the race twelfth.

Speaking to Autosport, de Ferran said “he managed himself really well and frankly drove like a veteran in many ways. He had both to attack and defend during the race, had to manage his pace and the tyres and I think he did that very well.”

De Ferran says that he is not disappointed by Norris being stuck behind the Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi stayed ahead for so long, despite Norris believing it would have been possible to pass the Alfa Romeo more quickly faced with the same situation in the future.

He says one of Norris’s “great attributes, his ability to think through his own performance and analyse very carefully what he’s doing inside the car, his decision making and so on. That ability to be self-critical and open-minded, in my summation, is something that’s going to serve him well.”

De Ferran says that the result of his debut weekend shows that he belongs in F1 even if the race result doesn’t show it, believing that it was a good performance.

 

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.

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