Ferrari must prepare to have its bluff called

Photo Credit: Ferrari Media

Ferrari has yet again threatened to leave Formula 1 if Liberty Media’s future plans do not fit with the Italian manufacturer’s plans then they will not ‘play’ according to president Sergio Marchionne, but the time has come for Ferrari to stop trying to call the sports bluff.

It feels like a Ross & Rachel will they won’t they won’t they story but in complete reverse. Ferrari does have a unique history with F1 having competed every year since the inception of the championship in 1950. However I can’t help feel despite the historic success of the Scuderia, it’s behaving like a petulant child demanding sweets from a shop despite a parent saying no.

Threats to leave are nothing new from Ferrari and some would be quick to suggest it’s nothing more than that, as the old saying claims ‘F1 can’t live without Ferrari and vice versa. But I would argue this time is different and Ferrari must prepare to have its bluff called by Liberty Media.

No more security

Bernie Ecclestone is no longer in charge of the commercial aspects of the sport having sold Liberty Media almost a year ago and while most of 2017 has been awash with glossy smiles and token gestures, the time has come for the owners to lay their cards on the table as the future of F1 is uncertain beyond 2020.

With the 87-year old no longer part of the power structure they could once rely on, Ferrari now finds itself in a position where its position within the status quo no longer exists.

Liberty’s CEO Chase Carey has been abundantly clear from the outset he wants to see the sport more competitive and made more fair in as many ways as possible. He and his fellow executives Ross Brawn and Sean Bratches wish to see a far more even keel for all the teams to allow for those ‘Leicester City’ moments we would all love to witness, everyone loves an underdog right?

A loss of potentially $100m a year could be taken away from them in bonus payments just for being a ‘Long-standing team’ within the sport, budget caps are planned to be set in place and run by external auditors as well as many other issues on the table are set to leave Ferrari in a position just like the rest in position where they no longer have the power and influence to maintain its status as they see it.

The perspective has changed

With a new ownership of F1 comes a new mantra not just from those in power, but it runs right down to the fans are arguably the ones that make F1 what it is. As they say, no one driver or team is bigger than the sport they participate in, certainly, an argument can be made for that here.

A tremendous amount of the fan-base I have spoken to are fed-up with the dogmatic view Ferrari have been holding onto for years when it comes to their participation in F1 and it appears Liberty Media won’t put up with it either to a certain degree, while it can be argued Ferrari do deserve some perks, it should not be anywhere near to the tune of what they get currently.

For too long F1 has been dominated by money and power and with new commercial owners, the slate has effectively been wiped clean putting all the teams in the same position and rightly so.

Former professional race driver Tiff Needell setup a poll on his Twitter account asking fans whether Ferrari’s bluff should be called or be made happy and the poll results have certainly given a clear answer with nearly 5000 people voting a 91% in favour of having their bluff called.

Prove heritage means something

Having won 15 drivers titles and 16 constructors titles, Ferrari has a history in F1 whose success can only be rivalled currently by Williams and McLaren, but moving forward into the future the Scuderia must prove now more than ever their heritage means something and prove it has not been won just by holding onto a position of power.

Should Ferrari take a new perspective going into the 2021 regulations and commercial agreements set by the FIA and Liberty Media, there is a chance can the prancing horse can win back the respect of the fans who have felt disillusioned in recent years by the erratic behaviour shown by their predecessors.

A future where we no longer could see those scarlet cars roaring past at 200mph chasing down yet another victory against their rivals would certainly be a true sombre moment in the sport’s history.

Ferrari’s success in the echelons of motorsport history is untouchable, but the time has now come for those in Maranello to understand that clawing onto the money and power is no longer the answer.

Ferrari needs F1 and F1 needs Ferrari. but the latter can survive without them if it has to. Let us hope that it does not come to that and we can continue to witness the prancing battle for glory in years to come.

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A new dawn approaches…

It appears with breaking news this evening that Bernie Ecclestone, the FOM chairman and CEO of Formula One has been removed from his post effective immediately.

With the aquisition of the Liberty Media group in it’s final stages, it was clear that a shift in the heirarchy of the paddock walls was going to change.

Liberty Media are a company well versed in sports management and broadcasting, making them a great fit into the fold of F1 despite not having any prior experience of the sport to begin with.

Many are quick to point that fact out and hold, what almost feels like resentment towards the new owners despite not really knowing anything about them.

Some even think that the buyout of F1 is nothing more than another investment to create a cashcow.

This is not the case, because of what Liberty are as a company, their investment now rests on the sport to be successful, in all areas. Only then will they see return on their $8bn purchase of F1.

Rumours have been rife for months about the potential plans Liberty are plotting, yet none have been proven to be truthful thus far.

However, it has been pointed out in the last week that CEO Greg Maffei has made comments about how Ferrari recieve too much prize money for their participation in F1, this will no doubt cause feathers to be ruffled in Maranello. 

But, this is a signal of intent by the new owners, Bernie is now no longer the go to guy to help get deals through in their favour. 

This postering by Liberty is a power play that is clearly showing they have intentions and are willing to put them into action, however this could well yet take a while as the current concorde agreement which binds the teams to F1 still has until 2020 to expire.

However, when the time comes, radical changes will no doubt be in the pipeline to be made part of the championship in the future. 

Whatever the future may hold for the F1 world championship, It is now in a pair of hands that will do what’s best for the sport. 

I certainly look forward to what they’ll bring to the table. 

Social Media & Formula One

Disclaimer: First off, I want to start off with the fact that I DO NOT in any shape or form want to take away anyone’s right to having their own opinion and voicing it. 

Now that I’ve got that bit out of the way, I want to address what I feel is a very touchy subject that I personally feel is very close to my heart.

I fully understand that everyone will habe their favourite drivers or teams for whatever reason they feel is right for them, and that’s exactly what I want to see from people. The fans at the end of the day are the ones that fill the grandstands and cheer on their heroes.

To not do so would very much indeed kill the sport off as a whole, so I must emphasise that the fans are very much at the heart of the sport, that there is no question.

The issue I have noticed over the years lies with fan intergration with social media. With the technology to reach news more instantaniously and that we can post our reactions online is a revelation to the world.

With our love for motorsport, the ability to unite ourselves for our passion of the fastest sport in the world should bring about a great wave of discussion and light-hearted debate. Now, while I see a lot of this through some of the groups I am apart of, I have seen far more often this season more than any other a great divide amongst fans.

It hurts and pains me to witness it. 

To critisise another’s opinion or to ignore facts is a very immature behaviour that is becoming all too common. The wealth of knowledge that is available on the world wide web is incomprehensible and it often frustrates me that too many people often fail to utilise that fact.

I also understand the fact that many become more confident their virtual worlds than in real life and this has been noted in many psychological studies over the years.

The war of words I see throughout the streams of social media is a minefield of poor knowledge, trolling, sheer games of ‘follow the leader’ and the just completely unfounded accusations and it almost often looks like it would be a slanging match between two opposing football clubs.

Motorsport has always often been thought of as a sport that goes against the grain, to go against a parent’s decision to go racing and do something unconventional. 

Niki Lauda, James Hunt and even Sir Jackie Stewart all defied their familes and went racing against their families desires.

Fans too are often frowned upon for it too, as I the writer and you the reader will have no doubt experienced at one time or another utter ridicule for taking a preference to motorsport over other conventional sports.

So, I often find myself dumbfounded that, through our unity of the motorsports we love, we cannot find a way to not act like complete football holligans over the digital network.

I have loved motorsport ever since I was a young lad, I love to debate and enjoy conversations all about motorsport. It’s what helped me turn my passion into journalism.

We’re all fans at the end of the day and we should all turn our passion for it into something constructive. Don’t riducle someone if they don’t know something, enlighten them with the facts, don’t hate on someone for liking a different driver or team, treat them as an equal that they are.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you. 

 I hope too can share our passion and help make social media a more friendly place to enjoy the sports we love.

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Tactics – Doing what you can to win

Nico Rosberg is now a world champion after taking second place at the 21st and final race of the 2016 season. Now while it certainly has not been the most exciting season I can recall, it did provide thrills and spills of course. 

Lewis Hamilton claimed his 61st career pole position and led pretty much from start to finish to claim a 53rd career win. But were his tactics on his attempt to destabilise Rosberg’s momentum by backing him into the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s behind justified?

Absolutely.

The social media backlash on Hamilton’s tactics have been completely outragous and utterly unfounded.

The three-time world champion had to do what he could in order to win the world chanpionship, if he had cleared off into the distance, there would not have been anyway he could affect the result Rosberg’s.

This is the top rung in the ladder of motorsport, the drivers are well versed in their skills and abilties to deal with a plethora of scenarios that can be thrown their way. They are adults who have shown the maturity to earn such a drive.

To depict Hamilton as unsporting in his behaviour on circuit is completely unfounded. 

Many other drivers have made tactical decisions in the past that some may or may not disagree with, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna come to mind straight away. Both very different drivers who went about their racing in completely polar opposite ways. 

But it never changed their desire to win. 

Nico Rosberg is now a world champion, a muchly deserved title through all of his efforts in 2016. Hamilton was deserved of a fourth world title too to comeback from the brink on two occasions.

No matter who you support, motorsport is a love we should all share, not take sides and argue like football hooligans over who is better and why.

Roll on 2017 & whatever it may bring. 

Jordan King Q&A

Thanks to Influence Associates I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jordan King, driver for Racing Engineering in GP2 and Manor Racing development driver. 

Here’s what he had to say.

Recently Monza was looking like a good weekend for you; How do you feel the weekend went?

“Race 1 was a bit of a disaster as we were on for 3rd but with the safety car coming out at just the wrong time and not managing to pick up the leaders it meant I had to settle for 7th.

Race 2 didn’t go well at all I really struggled with pace and tyre wear and it was really difficult to find out why in the debrief as there wasn’t a clear reason why the tyres well apart”

With just Abu Dhabi left, do you feel you had a shot at the title prior to Malaysia?

“Well after Malaysia unfortunately the title is out of reach now which is very annoying with me being so competitive but I can still get a top 3 so I’ll be pushing as hard as I can.”

You tested for Manor at the Silverstone test, how was the experience?

“They were both amazing experiences and really did put a smile on my face from ear to ear, it was a dream come true to drive an F1 but I still feel like there is more I can do and more to the dream.”

Do you feel confident that you have a shot at a Manor seat for 2017?

“I feel confident that I have shown I am capable to be in an F1 car in 2017 but to get a seat is the million dollar question I don’t have the answer to yet.”

What is your favourite race of the year so far?

“It is a toss-up between a few. Austria was special as it was my first win in GP2, Silverstone was special as I won at my home GP, Spa was great as it was the perfect race for our strategy ok I didn’t win but still finished 2nd.”

As a fellow racer, Do you feel Max Verstappen’s critics are right in their comments after his Spa performance?

“I think the T1 incident wasn’t his fault not at all, so he shouldn’t be getting any criticism for lap one turn one but as the race went on he defended his position by running other drivers along with himself off the track which I think is too far, it is dangerous if you can’t make the corners yourself while defending a position then that can’t be right surely? 

As you leave the other driver no room or option to stay on the track.”

Taking the next steps

In light of the Motorsport Network take over the Haymarket media group it’s got me wondering how this may affect Formula One’s coverage moving forward and perhaps how it impacts future generations of journalists like myself coming through the ranks. 

I personally don’t carry the money to travel to Grand Prix nor do I carry FIA accreditation to do so just yet.

Finding something that I wanted to do in life after trying my hands in at music, health courses as well as some public services through my further education years was difficult for me, but when my  daughter Lauren was born in October 2014, I found my calling into my writing.

It’s not glamourous, it’s not coated in a fantastic tail of a life’s pursuit, it stems from a life long love and burning passion for Formula One and motorsport itself.

I watched Damon Hill take his world championship that very morning in 1996, nearly win in Hungary in the Arrows and the sodden drama of the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix among many others.

Now while my life story so is pretty irrelevant, it’s the future I look towards, I personally dream of making it to every race and reporting it first hand. I know it may not always be the glamourous lifestyle, flying around the world for weeks and months at a time with little to no sleep. 

However, being at the heart of the sport I treasure most is something I dream of and with another potential shift in the media market, coming in the shape of the Motorsport Network takeover coupled with the Liberty Media buyout of Formula One, for up and coming journalists who wish to make their mark may have more uncertain futures.

I have been a couple of major events now and met some very famous faces, some of whom have even read my work before and enjoyed it, this does buoy me with confidence, yet I am left still unfulfilled because no matter how much further I look down the road, walking up to the gates of the Formula One paddock and flashing my badge at the machine and being allowed into the inner sanctum still feels a million miles away.

While the future seems very uncertain for the media world of motorsport, it does so especially for myself, trying to help keep a family afloat while trying to make it to events and make my presence in the motorsport community known, it’s a very difficult prospect indeed.

I plan to chase my dreams as long as I financially can without compromising my family life. I wish to fight to prove why I belong in the paddock to bring you all the latest and best news and information from the Formula One world, sharing my burning passion to be at heart of the pinnacle of motorsport.

Here’s to moving into an uncertain future.

2016 Singapore Grand Prix Review

Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1

The heat, The humidity and the back drop of a beautiful brightly lit city alongside the Marina bay set the scene for a Singapore Grand Prix that had a tense feeling in the air. The final third of championship was to begin here and the heat is now well and truly on.

Unfortunately for Romain Grosjean the race didn’t even get going after brake by wire issues hampered his attempts to even make the grid, this meant a DNS for the frenchman who clearly isn’t happy with his current situation, especially after  qualifying describing his VF-16 as “The worst he has ever driven”.

As the rest of the drivers lined up in their respective grid slots, the tension was palpable. 

When the lights went out Nico Rosberg got a great start while everyone else bogged down especially Max Verstappen, while Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg went to pass the slow Dutchman, it was Hulkenberg getting squeezed into a gap that swiftly closed, causing massive damage including a hit into the pit wall. No one was at fault for the incident, it was just an unfortunate set of circumstances.

Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas also got caught up in the melee, while Button moved to avoid the spinning Hulkenberg he clipped the rear of Bottas’ Williams, this meant a broken front wing, damaged brake ducts and broken floor for the McLaren driver while Bottas luckily only suffered a puncture.

As a safety car was called to slow the pack down so marshals could collect the wrecked Force India, due to the amount of shattered carbon fibre across the pit straight the cars were ordered to travel through the pit lane to avoid the huge chucks of debris. 

In a strange set of circumstances messages from race control on lap two appeared confusing and the safety car ducked in at the end of that lap, however that message either wasn’t passed on correctly or that race control got the call wrong, but this led to a marshal running for his life at turn one as Rosberg led 20 other Formula One cars at full speed as the race restarted. No doubt there will be a swift investigation as to how on earth this happened.

With the race still in it’s infacy both Mercedes cars already were managing brake issues, while brakes are always on the limit in Singapore managing them this early on was a concern for those in the team.

Despite starting on the red marked supersoft tyre, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t quite keep up with Rosberg in the early stages of the race allowing Rosberg to get away, this however would later change.

While the race continued to be a slow burner and the strategies played out, we were treated to a great tussle between Max Verstappen versus the man he replaced at Red Bull; Danil Kyvat. The Russian did not give a quarter to Verstappen at all, you could get the sense this was personal for him, to prove he can race and be just as good as he has shown before. 

Valtteri Bottas had a very strange issue with his seatbelts coming undone on lap 30, despite pitting immediately to get them done back, unfortunately he had to retire five laps later with mechanical issues, Jenson Button also had to retire following damage to car causing too many issues with his Mclaren caused by the first lap clash with Bottas avoiding the spinning Hulkenberg.

However when all thought the race was run after the second stops were made, it all burst into life on lap 45 when Mercedes ignited an inspired strategy to help Hamilton get back third place from Raikkonen, this triggered the Ferrari to stop the Finn the next lap in an attempt to prevent the powerful undercut on fresh tyres. Despite the Scuderia’s efforts Hamilton made the outlap count to pass Raikkonen as he exited the pitlane.

Because of the respective stops Hamilton and Raikkonen made, this allowed Red Bull to pull the trigger and try to do the same for Ricciardo to catch Rosberg. With the undercut being so strong the Mercedes strategists had to make a do or die call whether to pit the leader or keep him out and gamble with the race victory, or put him for fresh tyres and risk losing the lead to fight with the Red Bull for the final 14 laps.

Mercedes decided to stay out and gamble, meanwhile Ricciardo was using his fresh supersofts to full effect, closing Rosberg down at two to three seconds a lap. It was starting to look as if the win was in jeopardy because the gap between the two was in freefall, however in the final five laps Rosberg was granted a repreive in the shape of lapped traffic.

This allowed Rosberg some breathing space while Ricciardo had to make his way through it at some of the slower points of the circuit, by the time Ricciardo got clear of the traffic it appeared his tyres were beginning to scream enough and he would not make it to Rosberg. On the final lap he gave it everything he could, the nailbiter in all of us would of watched as he gained through every corner, the gap was visibily shrinking every second. 

Despite all of his efforts Ricciardo lost out by just 0.488 of a second in his hunt for victory (pictured above), both drivers looked exhausted not only through the physical endurance of the event, but also through how much they had put in to fight for that win.

Other inspirational performances from the race were Sebastian Vettel, definitely deserving his driver of the day award after coming back from last to fifth with an inspired strategy to get through the field, also a great result for Fernando Alonso in seventh place giving McLaren a boost. Danil Kyvat also made the points helping his fight to keep his F1 career alive and Kevin Magnussen who got Renault’s second points finsh of the season.

The 2016 Singapore Grand Prix was a race of many stories which culminated in a nailbiting finish, I was certainly happy with what the race has to offer and it’s given another twist in tale of the drivers chanpionship too. With Nico Rosberg taking his eighth win of the year and snatching the lead of the championship in the process, the onus is now on Lewis Hamilton to make a comeback if he wants that fourth title and to prevent Nico taking his first.

Next stop is in Malaysia. I wonder what’s next in the magical story of the 2016 championship, no doubt there will still be twists to come.