Thursday, 19 January 2017

FIA Approves The Sale Of F1

The World Motor Sport Council has unanimously approved the change of control of Delta Topco Limited (the holding company of the Formula One Group and thus the owner of the Commercial Rights of the FIA Formula One World Championship) from CVC Capital Partners in favour of Liberty Media Corporation at an extraordinary meeting today in Geneva.

The transaction will see the transfer of 100% of the shares in Delta Topco to Liberty Media Group, one of the tracking stocks of Liberty Media Corporation.

During the meeting, the representatives of the prospective new owner made a detailed presentation of their strategy. The members of the World Motor Sport Council then had the opportunity to ask questions about the specifics of the agreement, the ongoing working relationship with the FIA and Liberty’s plans for the sport.

Liberty, Formula One Group and the FIA intend to collaborate to create a constructive relationship that will ensure the continued success and the development of the FIA Formula One World Championship in the long term.

The World Motor Sport Council’s decision confirms the FIA’s belief that Liberty, as a renowned media organisation with expertise in both sport and entertainment, is clearly well positioned to ensure the continued development of its pinnacle Championship.

The FIA holds a one per cent shareholding in Delta Topco. As part of the sale by CVC to Liberty Media Corporation, and in line with the agreements between the FIA and the Formula One Group, the FIA will be dragged along in the sale process under the same conditions as CVC and all the other shareholders.

The FIA looks forward to working with the new owners of the Formula One Group on further developing the unrivalled global spectacle that is the FIA Formula One World Championship for all stakeholders.

Monday, 16 January 2017

OFFICIAL - Valtteri Bottas joins Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport for 2017

  • Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will race for the Silver Arrows in 2017
  • Valtteri Bottas becomes the 11th driver to compete in Formula One with the Silver Arrows
  • Nico Rosberg accepts ambassadorial role with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport
  • Toto Wolff: "It's time to see how Valtteri can step up to challenge for wins and Championships"
  • Valtteri Bottas: "I'm grateful to Mercedes for trusting my skills and giving me this opportunity"

It's been 45 days since Nico Rosberg dropped the bombshell of his immediate retirement from Formula One. And it left the team with a conundrum: how to best fill the vacant seat alongside three-time champion Lewis Hamilton in order to defend the Constructors' Championship?

Following six weeks of detailed evaluation, deliberation and negotiation, the answer can now be confirmed officially: we signed Valtteri Bottas this morning. The 27-year-old native of Nastola, Finland has completed four seasons in Formula One with Williams, making 77 starts and scoring 9 career podiums so far.

"Sometimes in life, unexpected circumstances provide interesting opportunities. Nico's decision in December was a big surprise - certainly a challenging situation for the team to handle. But weathering the storm makes you more resilient and we see this as another opportunity for the team to grow," explained Toto Wolff as he introduced the fourth driver to race for the Silver Arrows in the modern era.

"Valtteri is a no-nonsense guy: down to earth, straightforward and very focused. Pretty Finnish, to be honest, and a great fit for us. He has an impressive track record in the junior categories and nine podiums in F1. But now it's time for the next level, to see how he can step up to challenge for race wins and for Championships. We know that we are already behind the curve in terms of preparations for the new season, so we've got a busy programme to get him integrated into the team. One thing is for sure: as I know Valtteri, he will give it everything."

Valtteri was cautiously optimistic when he met his new team-mates in the factory today. "It's very exciting times for me," he grinned. "I think it's going to take a while to understand that this is really happening. It's definitely another dream come true, to race in another team with such great history - especially in the recent years, which have been so impressive. I'm really proud to become a part of that and grateful to everyone at Mercedes for trusting my skills and giving me this opportunity.

"I've had a really warm welcome so far. Of course, I have a lot more people to meet and new faces to remember. But initially everything has felt very good. I'm really impressed with the facilities and I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone better. My first experience with Mercedes power was in F3 back in 2009 and, of course, I know the Power Unit well from the last three years with Williams. But there are a lot of new things to learn with the car and also with how the team operates at the factory, in testing and at the races."

The scale of the challenge ahead cannot be underestimated. New aerodynamic regulations mean a reset for the entire field and there is genuine uncertainty about which team will emerge on top; Valtteri is paired with probably the most ferociously fast team-mate in the sport, Lewis Hamilton; and there are just 70 days until the red lights go out at the start of the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

"We have confidence in Valtteri's ability and it's one of the reasons that he is the driver we set our sights on this winter," continued Toto. "The next weeks will be busy as we work to build relationships so Valtteri understands the team and the car. But that's an exciting challenge that will bring us fresh energy and a new dynamic between the drivers. And, of course, we're working hard to give Lewis and Valtteri the car they need to do the job."

Valtteri is under no illusions about the task ahead: "I'm ready to work hard, to prove myself to the team and to prove my skills. It's going to be a challenging season and joining a new team makes it more work than normal. But I'm 100% ready for that. I'm training hard to be at my physical best because it will be much tougher with these new cars. I always set the bar really high, so my target is to perform from the first race. I'm full of energy and ready to get to work for this year and hopefully many more to come with Mercedes."

The agreement for Valtteri to join Mercedes has not happened in isolation. With today's announcements that Pascal Wehrlein will join Sauber for 2017, and that Felipe Massa will return to Williams, the final pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place for this year. And that has only been possible thanks to positive working relationships between all the teams involved in a complex chain of negotiations.

"On behalf of Mercedes, I must thank Williams for their cooperation in allowing Valtteri to make this move - and also Monisha and Sauber for their patience during the past weeks," concluded Toto. "It's been a busy day in the driver market and I am pleased to know that Pascal will be racing at Sauber to continue his development in F1. He had a good first season with Manor and we feel this is the right path for him in the sport. It's satisfying to have both of our Young Drivers taking on new challenges in F1 this year, with Esteban also racing at Force India. We'll be following their progress closely; I'm sure we've got an exciting season ahead of us."

From Valtteri, too, there were warm words for his friends and colleagues at Williams: "I had a great seven years there, starting as a test driver in 2010. I'm very proud of what we achieved together and I leave with some very good memories. My debut in F1, my first points and nine podiums all came with the guys and girls at Grove, so I must say a big thanks to everyone and I wish them all the very best for the future."

As Valtteri now begins a busy week of technical and physical preparations for the new season, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport is pleased to confirm that Nico has accepted an ambassadorial role with the team for 2017.

Q&A with Felipe Massa

Q: You said at the end of last season that you felt it was the right time to retire from Formula One, what has changed?
A:  My intention was always to race somewhere, as I still have the passion for racing and competing. I also have a strong love for Williams as I have enjoyed the last three years with the team, and therefore coming back to help give stability and experience to drive things forward in 2017 was something that felt right to do.

Q: Could you have looked at other opportunities to stay in Formula One, if you were still open to the idea?
A: I have a passion for racing, for competing and for fighting on the track. My return is not about seeing Formula One as the best option, but is about seeing the role at Williams as the best option. I would not have returned for any other team.    

Q: You left the sport on such a high at the end of last season, is there a danger that you won’t get the same reception now you have returned?
A: The scenes I saw in Brazil and Abu Dhabi last year are ones that I will never forget. I am so grateful for everything that happened last year and all the kind messages. Whatever happens this season, I will always leave the sport with my head held high.

Q: Do you still have the desire to race in Formula One? 
A: When I joined Williams back in 2014 I found a team – and a family – that I have loved being a part of. I certainly haven’t lost the desire to race and fight on track. Whatever I would have turned my hand to this year, I would have been putting 100% effort into doing the best job that I can, and if I didn’t have that passion, I would not have agreed to return.

Q: You have been linked to a number of different race series over the winter, how far had conversations gone? 
A: Since announcing my retirement last year, I had been assessing my options and there were a number of opportunities presented to me that I could have pursued. However, I have made my decision and therefore this is now my focus.

Q: How does it feel to be replacing your old teammate Valtteri?
A: Going to the current World Champions is a great opportunity for Valtteri. He is a talented racer and it was great working alongside him for three years. I wish him all the best for the next chapter of his career.

Q: Can we assume that money was a factor in your decision to return to Formula One?
A: I won’t be discussing figures or any details regarding the negotiations. All I will say is that this was the right decision and I am happy to continue as part of the team.

Q: What helped make the decision and what factors did you take into consideration?
A: I think what happened at the end of last season with Nico’s unexpected retirement sparked a unique turn of events. Valtteri has been offered a fantastic opportunity and, as a result, an opportunity arose for me. When the media began reporting that I might return, I was touched by the response from so many fans who wanted to see me back in the sport. That was certainly a factor in the decision, so I’d like to thank the fans for their support. But, at the end of the day, when I received the call it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. It was Williams!

Q: Can you confirm this is a one-year deal?
A: At present this is a deal for 2017 only and I have not thought beyond.

Q: What are your thoughts on your new teammate Lance Stroll?
Q: I’m looking forward to working with Lance, having known him for a long time. He has proved in the championships he has competed in so far that he deserves this opportunity, and it’s great to welcome new talent into Formula One. Lance may be young, but Williams has a history of bringing young drivers into the sport. He knows there is a steep learning curve ahead, but motorsport is a team sport and I look forward supporting him in any way I can.

Q: What are your thoughts and hopes for 2017?
A: It’s going to be an exciting year with all the regulation changes and I’m going to be spending lots of time with the team now preparing for the season. It’s too soon to make predictions, as we haven’t even turned a wheel. But I can say that I’m very much looking forward to driving the FW40 when testing begins next month.

Q: Williams is celebrating 40 years in Formula One this year, are you looking forward to being part of that?
A: Yes, very much. Williams has such a great history in the sport and reaching this milestone is a fantastic achievement. I know the team has more plans to celebrate this year and I’m looking forward to being part of them.

OFFICIAL - Felipe Massa to replace Valtteri Bottas for 2017 Season

Felipe Massa to replace Valtteri Bottas for 2017 Season

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING is pleased to confirm that Felipe Massa has agreed to re-join Williams on a one-year deal, coming out of retirement to replace Valtteri Bottas who the team has released to join Mercedes for the 2017 season.

Felipe will race for a fourth consecutive season with Williams, alongside Lance Stroll who will make his Formula One debut in the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Having joined Williams in 2014, Felipe has been instrumental in the team’s improved performance supporting a resurgence to third place in the Constructors’ Championship in his first and second years.

Speaking about the announcement Felipe Massa said; “Firstly, I am very happy to have an opportunity to return to Williams. I always intended to race somewhere in 2017, but Williams is a team close to my heart and I have respect for everything it is trying to achieve. Valtteri has a great opportunity, given the turn of events over the winter, and I wish him all the best at Mercedes.

“In turn, when I was offered the chance to help Williams with their 2017 Formula One campaign, it felt like the right thing to do. I certainly have not lost any of my enthusiasm for racing and I’m extremely motivated to be coming back to drive the FW40. The support from my fans over the last few weeks has been a huge boost and I'm grateful for that. I also look forward to working with Lance; I’ve known him for many years and seen his talent develop during that time, so I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together.”

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, said; “I’m delighted that Felipe has agreed to come out of retirement to be a part of our 2017 campaign. With Valtteri having a unique opportunity to join the current Constructors’ Champions, we have been working hard to ensure that an agreement could be made with Mercedes to give Valtteri this fantastic opportunity.

“Valtteri has been part of the Williams family since 2010 and in that time has proved a huge talent, securing nine podium finishes. I would like to take this opportunity to thank him on behalf of the whole team, and wish him a successful season as he joins Mercedes.

“Felipe has always been a much-loved member of the Williams family, and having the opportunity to work with him again is something we all look forward to. He was always going to race somewhere in 2017, as he has not lost that competitive spirit, and it was important that we had a strong replacement in order for us to let Valtteri go. Felipe re-joining us provides stability, experience and talent to help lead us forward. He is a great asset for us.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

The GPDA vs Bernie - The Letter And Reply!

The Letter from the GPDA

Dear Formula One stakeholders, followers and fans,

The Grand Prix drivers would like to state our following position: We drivers love our sport! Since childhood, we dreamed of racing the fastest race cars from the top teams on the coolest tracks against the best drivers in the world. We seek competition and love F1 almost unconditionally, which makes us most probably the people with the purest interest for Formula One, beside our fans.

Formula One is currently challenged by a difficult global economic environment, a swift change in fan and consumer behaviour, and a decisive shift in the TV and media landscape. This makes it fundamental that the sport's leaders make smart and well considered adjustments.

We feel that some recent rule changes - on both the sporting and technical side, and including some business directions - are disruptive, do not address the bigger issues our sport is facing and in some cases could jeopardise its future success. We know that among the leaders of the sport - be it the owners, their representatives, the governing body, the teams or other stakeholders - every individual acts with the very best intentions.

Therefore, the drivers have come to the conclusion that the decision-making process in the sport is obsolete and ill-structured and prevents progress being made. Indeed, it can sometimes lead to just the opposite, a gridlock. This reflects negatively on our sport, prevents it being fit for the next generation of fans and compromises further global growth.

We would like to request and urge the owners and all stakeholders of Formula One to consider restructuring its own governance. The future directions and decisions of F1, be they short or long term, sporting, technical or business orientated should be based on a clear master plan. Such plan should reflect the principles and core values of Formula One.

We need to ensure that F1 remains a sport, a closely-fought competition between the best drivers in extraordinary machines on the coolest race tracks. F1 should be home only to the best teams, drivers and circuits, with partners and suppliers fit for such an elite championship.

Formula One has undoubtedly established itself as the pinnacle of motorsport and as such one of the most viewed and popular sports around the world. We drivers stand united, offer our help and support for F1 to keep it as such, and further to make it fit and exciting for many years and generations to come.

It is important to state that this open letter is intended in the best interests of all and should not be seen as blind and disrespectful attack. Thank you for your attention and granting us the liberty to put our thoughts into words.

Best regards, Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Alex Wurz, on behalf of the Grand Prix Drivers

The Reply From Bernie:

Dear Gentlemen,

I am not sure if this is the right description. It is not always easy to agree with you but you are correct in stating that the decision making process in the sport is obsolete and ill structured.

We must as you have stated urge the owners and all stakeholders of Formula One to consider restructuring its own governance.

It is easy to analyse what is wrong so why not think and come back on this. At least it is better to think before you wish.

I have been in Formula One for nearly fifty years in an active role and another eighteen involved in some way. You state that every individual acts with the very best intentions. I am not sure if this is a misprint. If not, it should read "with their very best intentions".

Best wishes,


p.s. - The picture was't on the letter, it just seemed like the right one to choose to illustrate this :)

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

UK F1 TV Coverage. #C4F1 vs #SkyF1

The TV coverage in the UK market has had a bit of a switcheroo this year with the free-to-air coverage switching to commercial broadcaster Channel 4 after 7 years with the BBC.

Channel 4 will be covering 10 races live with highlights of qualifying and the race on the other 11 weekends whilst Sky have all weekends fully live.

Channel 4 turned up in Melbourne and innovated, their graphics were cool, the presentation team were laid back and full of facts and opinion. They made full use of a very extensive highlights package so much so it didn't feel like anything from the race had been missed!

The package felt very slick, the return of the iconic fleetwood mac, 'the chain' was also a big plus point, it's an F1 anthem. If you hear it you instantly think of F1 even if you're not a fan.

Of course we'll need to see a live broadcast in two weeks time in Bahrain to see if they have truly hit the nail on the head.

Sky did everything how they always have.. nothing seems to have changed.. apart from the increasing price and decreasing content. Sky have their own F1 channel to fill with F1 programming, however more and more dead air seems to be appearing with endless reruns of 3 year old programmes. The weekly staple F1 show has been cut to only half an hour every race weekend rather than an hour a week.This was for the last few years a chance for fans to get involved with a live studio audience on non-F1 weekends. There is seemingly no new content? You would think that they would want to innovate here and stay ahead of the free-to-air competition, but on the evidence of this weekend, you're not missing anything by waiting for the highlights.

This comparison will run and run throughout the year, but race weekend one, the points go to C4.

Monday, 21 March 2016

The Failure of Qualifying Knock-out - A Protest By The Teams

It's been clear for a little while that Bernie wants to spice up the show, he wants better 'entertainment' to get people watching and buying subscriptions to view the racing live. To do this he knows that the current format will not give him crazy races week-in-week-out and has been working to devise ways to change things.

Firstly you and I both know that lining the cars up in order of the  fastest at the front, and the slowest at the back, you're unlikely to see too many position changes as the natural order has already been found. Overtaking in races is usually due to strategy mis-match, errors, or drivers out of position.

Bernie's original plan was to keep qualifying as it is, but add a success time penalty, so the driver who finishes on pole gets 1 sec added to his time, 2nd place 8 tenths... etc etc etc which would therefore shake up the grid. The pole-sitter would probably start 8th or 9th and it would work a bit like a GP2 reverse grid (without calling it a reverse grid, or just simply reversing the grid because that upset the purists).

This would create a jumbled up top ten and mean that everyone has to race hard & overtake if they want to win, and occasionally someone who wouldn't usually win might manage to use track position and claim a win. A Williams or a Force India, Or a Toro Rosso maybe? Who wouldn't want to see that?

Well the teams.. to be precise. They like Qualifying. It's fairly simple, its predictable and works like clockwork. They can prepare their qualifying and race strategy in advance and pretty much have a good idea how everything is going to pay off. One thing they don;t like is Chaos, or of course anything that will make them anti-competitive.

Desperate for a change Bernie pushed for his qualifying success penalty, but instead the committee voted for a lesser of two evils, the knock-out system. A system they didn't want (as it would throw up variables) but gave enough of a change to make it look like they were trying.

Trying is exactly what they didn't do come Saturday in Melbourne however. With cars and drivers sat in the garage being eliminated one-by-one looking terrible on TV, 'settling for their position' rather than being racers and constantly trying to better themselves. The teams didn't make a go of it, because they didn't want it. They knew that if they made enough of a bad show, they'd be able to vote back their old comfy blanket of standard qualifying as an emergency. Thus a real power-play behind the scenes, one un-noticed by many is a sign of the teams flexing their collective muscle against Bernie and his plans to create a better 'show'.

The knock-out qualifying format didn't work as well as expected. Although it certainly could have. Q1 and Q2 were pretty exciting, A few tweaks were needed maybe, and maybe a shorter shoot-out Q3 would have been a simple way to fix but keep this new excitement. Of course all of this is irrelevant as the teams have got their blankets back.