In this special edition of Reporters, we are looking back at the biggest stories of the last year in this edition we are looking back at the last six months of the year.
August, Is Formula One a sport, entertainment, development test ground or all three? The sports hitting a point where it needs to decide what it is are the words of Red Bull boss Christian Horner. As the sport looks at the future regulations how important is the debate about what is Formula One?
F1 at a crossroads and decisions need making
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says that Formula One is at a crossroad and needs to make decisions now to be relevant in the next decade. The sport is currently debating what kind of engine regulations should be introduced from 2021.
The teams, Liberty Media and FIA have agreed broadly that the sport must remain the pinnacle of motorsport, but also find a solution that allows for cheaper, louder and sufficiently powerful engines.
Two meetings have already taken place about the future regulations, with teams doing further analysis will over the summer before being reviewed at the next meeting of F1’s Strategy Group in September.
Horner who represents the biggest non-works team, says the sport needs to find the correct balance between road-relevant technology and entertainment. Horner told ESPN, “I think what’s really interesting is that Formula One is effectively at a crossroads with the new regulations, because those regulations theoretically come in 2021.”
“There will be probably and eight to ten-year life on those engines, so what we are looking at is actually is Formula One’s relevance pretty much up to 2030,” He says Formula One needs answers today about what it is.
He added “I hope that with the opportunity there is with the regulation change that is being discussed at the moment that the fundamental aspects of cost, performance and attractiveness to the fans, therefore the noise, the acoustics of these engines, are a key factor in the set of regulations they come up with.”
September. Syria has been in a state of civil war for five years. The countries motorsport scene has been receiving profits from Formula One to spend on development. But where is the money going?
FIA hands profits to Syrian government
An investigation by ITV News has uncovered that Formula One profits are being handed to the Syrian government. Over the last the past three years, the sports governing body the FIA has handed the Syria\n Automobile Club.
The FIA has one hundred and forty-three motoring and motorsport clubs across 143 countries. They all wield power because under the FIA statutes only one motorsport club, known as an Autorité Sportive Nationale (ASN), in each country can vote at its annual general meeting. It means that small countries have the same say as far larger ones.
In 2014, the FIA launched a grant programme with formula one fees, these grants are aimed as “a new source of funding for National Sporting Authorities” and state that the fund “is dedicated to developing motor sport and helping to strengthen ASNs.”
Applications are open to all FIA clubs and the Syrian Automobile Club (SAC) has taken full advantage of this by successfully applying for a grant in each of the past three years. The Syrian grant was to build a “fully functioning intensive care unit ambulance to be available for its sporting events, as well as the future rescue training programmes that the organisation would be involved in.”
September, cybersecurity has been a major threat to businesses around the world this year. But how safe is Formula One? One expert believes that the sport has been lucky to avoid an attack.
Lucky to avoid cyber attack
A leading expert in cyber security claims that Formula One has been “lucky” to have avoided a serious ransomware attack. Ransomware is software that cripples computers and demands payment to remove the software.
The industry is worth £4.5 billion to cybercriminals and sophisticated groups are offering off-the-shelf programmes, in exchange for a cut of the profits, for anyone wanting to launch an attack. Last year a major attack crippled businesses in Europe as well as the NHS in England.
Last year, Toro Rosso teamed up with Acronis who have helped the team make improvements in several areas including data back-up and safe file distribution.
Acronis president John Zanni believes F1 needs to be doing more to protect itself. He told Autosport “It hasn’t been happening much and teams like Toro Rosso are pretty secure – because they are serious about how they manage and secure their IT.”
“But F1 has been lucky up to now. I hope it will stay lucky and will become even more secure in the future. F1 is a massively popular sport. That is exactly what is usually a target – something that gets you a lot of press.” Zanni says that he has concerns that Formula One doesn’t view cyber crime seriously.
Adding “I’ve asked a few people in F1 about it and they have said, ‘Why would anyone attack us? We just want to make sure our competitors don’t see our data’.”
Zanni fears that ransomware attacks will increase in frequency in the future, because the top-of-the-range software is a high quality and is becoming available to more people.
Renault grabbed the headlines in October as they announced the potentially signing the FIA’s former technical chief Marcin Budkowski. But this has kicked up a row as rival teams fear that his privileged information about what other teams are doing, could give them an unfair advantage, meaning Renault has gone on the offensive
Renault defends Budkowski signing
Renault are not in Formula One “to make friends” as the row continues about the team potentially signing the FIA’s former technical chief Marcin Budkowski.
The French manufacturer has been heavily criticised after they got held of Budkowski as he has privileged information about what other teams are doing.
Although Renault have not confirmed his signing, team boss Cyril Abiteboul made it clear that Renault needed to go on the offensive to grab the staff it needs if it wants be world champion over the next few years.
Abiteboul told Sky Sports “We want to be one of the top teams by 2020. It is at one time far away, but given we know what needs to be done.”
“If you look at the one-second – 1.5-second gap between the midfield and the top teams, it is a big jump and that is why we need to be aggressive in what we do to be there by 2020.” He says there are ways you do things and the team does in terms of recruitment.
Despite the controversy, Abiteboul insists his team will not do anything that could breach the rules nor rival teams’ IP rights. “Renault has a very clear track record of being extremely fair and loyal,” added Abiteboul.
“So whatever we will do, we will make sure that it is done in a very loyal way and a very fair way to our competitors.”
December, Kevin Magnussen is a driver who can prove controversial on track earning himself a bad boy racer title because of the aggressive tactics. But how does he bounce back and does he care?
‘Bad boy’ Magnussen a joke at Haas
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen says his reputation as Formula One’s ‘bad boy’ has become a joke within the team. Magnussen’s use of aggressive tactics this year has caused controversy throughout the season.
One exchange following his battle with Nico Hulkenberg has become famous, after telling the Renault driver to “suck his balls” after their clash in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Asked by Autosport, about the reputation he is developing, Magnussen replied: “I don’t mind. A lot of drivers have complained about me, but this has perhaps created a little bit of a joke in the team. I wouldn’t say I am the most popular driver among the drivers, but I don’t need to be.”
The Dane says that all that matters to him was the results and views of the stewards are what mattered. He pointed out he has had only a single any penalty this season for his driving.
Pushed on whether he had any driver friends in the paddock, he said “In the paddock yes. But amongst the drivers, I don’t have friends at all. They are not my friends. It would never work to have a friendship, so I don’t make any effort to make friends.”
Magnussen says that he feels fairly immune from criticism and that deliberately steering clear of social media helped this.
December, Twenty three years on from the death of Ayrton Senna the weekend still casts a shadow for Adrian Newey. Newey who designed the car Senna was driving, says he still feels a degree of responsibility for what happened but why?
Senna’s death still raw and immediate – Newey
Red Bull’s Adrian Newey has opened up about his own personal turmoil after the death of Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marina Grand Prix. Newey was the chief designer at Williams and designed the car that Senna was driving.
The three times world champion crashed after going straight on a Tamburello and hit the barrier. There has been no clear explanation about why Senna crashed and suffered fatal head injuries.
Newey told Sky Sports, at the launch of his new book ‘How To Build A Car’, “The whole Imola weekend was a horrible weekend. Twenty-three years later, it still feels quite raw and immediate. It was an extremely difficult time.
“I’d never thought about the question: ‘If somebody was hurt, or worse still, passes away in a car that I’d been responsible for, how would I feel?’. Then suddenly this happens.
“If you’re in that situation, and you don’t question your involvement – if it happens once it can happen again – then you’re a fool. For me, this has been my life, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do and something I’ve been lucky to end up doing – but there’s a catch there. There was a bit of soul searching to be done.”
Newey was later charged with manslaughter going through thirteen years of criminal investigation but was eventually cleared. He also wrote, “I will always feel a degree of responsibility for Ayrton’s death but not culpability.”
Speaking about the three times champion, Newey said “Ayrton was a great man. People talk about somebody having an aura about them – and it’s very difficult to quantify why you would feel that. Is it because of what they’ve achieved, or the personality?”
“Whatever it was, Ayrton had that aura where if you were with him or talking to him – his enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and energy was infusive.”
The book ‘How To Build A Car’, is available now. That’s all from Reporter’s look back at 2017, until next time we wish you all a happy and safe New Year, goodbye