Category Archives: FIA

Formula One: Jean Todt joins Twitter

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President of Motorsports Governing Body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Jean Todt had kicked off 2017 by joining Twitter!

The account, whilst currently not verified, appears to be genuine with the President’s first two tweets coming from a BMW Autonomous driving demonstration at CES in Las Vegas and the Formula E Visa Vegas eRace over the weekend.

 

At this time Jean Todt, or those managing the account on his behalf, are not following any other users on the social media platform seemingly opting to use it to communicate on events attended rather than engage directly. This approach may evolve in the coming weeks and months as the full 2017 motorsport season commences.

During 2017 Jean Todt’s second term as president of the FIA will come to a conclusion. No formal comment has been made with respect to plans to seek re-election, nor have any alternative candidates been mentioned. It had been speculated that Jean Todt would not seek a re-election for the unpaid position following his appointment as  Special Envoy for Road Safety to the UN.

You can follow Jean Todt on Twitter here.

Formula E: The season 5 conundrum

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2016 Nat Twiss / Spacesuit Media

Formula E is in a great place. With Jaguar joining the championship, Audi scaling up their involvement, BMW committing to the category and Mercedes taking up a placeholder position, OEMS are falling over themselves to get their place on the grid. The same can be said for host cities, in only 3 seasons Alejandro Agag has secured events in locations Formula One have spent decades trying to get on their calendar. The Championship is growing beyond anyone’s expectations.

The success of Formula E is due in part to the mentality of cost control placed upon teams and organisers. Through staggering development cycles of components teams are not in a position to throw money at a problem to find a solution, instead they are forced to find creative solutions to move up the grid. The result Is exceptionally close racing in which more than half the grid are genuinely capable of winning races on their day. However, the Formula E development cycle could be about to cause the championship a serious headache.

I have followed Formula E since day one of the championship. I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of races and spend time with a variety of people in and around the sport.  I am a huge supporter of the championship and the racing, although I have to be honest until attending racing there was always one element of Formula E that I couldn’t get my head around. That was mid race car swapping. Why would a championship designed to promote electric vehicle (EV) technology build prospective EV buyers greatest anxiety, battery range, into the race? For a time, it seemed that OEMS shared the same concerns and to give credit to Formula E, they had a plan. From Season 5, battery technology will be upgraded and the need for a mid race car change will be removed. It is exactly this evolution of technology that has seen BMW commit to the championship.

However, I’m not convinced this is the best direction for the sport. As mentioned until attending a race I was a sceptic of the mid race car change. Why not have two shorter races? It wasn’t until spending time at the London ePrix last season with a group of lifestyle journalists and corporate management that I saw the value of the car change.  In explaining how the breakdown of a Formula E race, the most thrilling element of the race without any question was the car change. Witnessing drivers jump from one car to another bought the race to life and gave a very human perspective to the spectacle. It became the talking point of the day and the lynch pin of subsequent questions around the championship. The championship had me and many others converted!

So what happens in Season 5? In theory the range of Formula E batteries will be increased to remove the need for each driver to require two cars to complete a race distance. In theory we could see a lights to flag race with no interruptions. Is this the right direction? Speaking to drivers and team managers at the Marrakesh ePrix last month few seem convinced. Formula E races with no concerns over battery life and range and no need for pit stops could become quite mundane and processional. Drivers talk of their enjoyment of having a unique challenge mid race. A new element of their racing to finesse. Do we realy want to loose this?

No doubt Formula E organisers are more than aware of this and have already started to evaluate how they can change the way in which the championship goes racing to maintain the thrill and strategic element to an ePrix. To help them out along the way I’ve mapped out a few options for them to build into the equation:

Tyre change pitstop: A relatively logical and simple way to maintain the strategic element of ePrix in the post car change era would be to introduce mandatory pitstops for tyre changes. However, Michelin (the control Formula E tyre supplier) have commented in the past that their strategy around motorsport engagement is to showcase durability. They would not want to develop degrading tyres to artificially impact the race. Moreover, pitstops require additional equipment and manpower from the teams. Any savings generated through the removal of a second car would be negated. Formula E is an environmentally conscious sport; tyre changes could be seen to promote a message of waste.

Joker Laps: A seen in World Rally Cross (WRX), introducing the concept of a secondary element to a circuit layout which when taken will increase lap times by a number of seconds. Drivers could be mandated to take a certain number of joker laps during a race, introducing a dynamic element of strategy. Recently crowned WRX champion Mattias Ekström has passionately advocated their introduction in other series commenting “In F1, if you see how close many races were and it’s difficult to follow, if you have a joker lap someone has to do at a certain time, you can also time it different to get free air for a couple of laps, and that time you can launch your attack,”

Of course concerns around open wheel single seaters returning to a racing line from another point on track at full speed would have to be addressed, but Joker Laps would certainly add an interesting element to future Formula E events.

Dynamic induction charging: Qualcomm are a founding partner of Formula E. They work with the championship in the development of new technologies fit for the evolving automotive industry, one such technology is the Halo system. Halo is an induction charging plate currently used by the championship BMW i Safety and Medical cars. The charging plate removes the need to plug an EV into a charging point. This technology will be launched on road going cars in the coming 18 months. The next phase of this technology is to replicate the induction charging technology whilst a vehicle is in motion. Formula E, could look to introduce dynamic charging strips of 100-200 metres around elements of a circuit off the racing line in which drivers could pick up a power boost. Qualcomm have the technology to facilitate this kind of development. It would require additional investment and require extended periods of preparation time at ePrix circuits, but such a move would push Formula E further towards the pinnacle of motorsport technology. An accolade I am sure they are keen to achieve!

So where to next? Formula E is riding a crest of success. The Championship will have it’s work cut out in the coming years to balance the growing demands of a number of OEM’s all of whom expect to win, and the expectations of fans and sponsors to be entertained. Formula E should see the removal of mid race car changes as an opportunity to throw another element of change into racing. They’ve convinced the sceptic once; I trust they will do the same again!

Formula One: Pérez for Mercedes?

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With the shock announcement from 2016 Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg’s retirement last Friday, almost every driver on the grid has been named as a possible replacement for the German. Nico’s decision came as a surprise not only to media and fans of the sport, but to his employers and rivals on the grid. Had there been an inkling from anyone that Nico may have taken this decision the contractual status of a number of leading drivers may be looking very different at this point in the season.

The Mercedes board will be keen to install a replacement driver as soon as possible to minimise the impact on the teams 2017 campaign and maximise driver acclimatisation. That being said, should Mercedes opt for a driver currently under contract with another team it is highly unlikely they will be able to work with said driver until the new year.

From an ease of transition perspective Mercedes could opt for one of their junior drivers in Ocon or Wehrlein. Whilst kind on the cheque book and simplest to implement, Mercedes require a driver capable of performing from at the very top level from the word go, it is undeniable the potential of both drivers is without question,  but it would be a risk to place them with the team from the beginning of 2017.

Realistically, this leaves Mercedes with little option than to approach drivers with existing agreements for season ahead. Toto Wolff has intimated he is reluctant to poach drivers from Ferrari or Mclaren, acknowledging the damage this could cause to future team relations in the lead up to strategy group negotiations with Liberty Media over the coming 36 months. This in theory removes Sebastian, Kimi, and Fernando from the equation. Whilst Toto did not explicitly rule out either of the Red Bull Racing drivers, it is highly unlikely either would be released from what are understood to be long term contracts.

This has left many to suggest Bottas has the most likely candidate for the seat. He is part managed by Toto Wolff and with Williams working in close collaboration with Mercedes a deal in theory could be easy to achieve. I see this to be quite unlikely. 2016 was somewhat of an underwhelming season for both Bottas and Williams. If the cliché of ‘you are only as good as your last race / season’ were to be applied. Bottas is not hot property and should not be regarded as the next best option.

Taking all of this into consideration I believe the best placed driver on the grid to replace Nico Rosberg for 2017 is Sergio Pérez. With 101 points, and 2 podium finishes in 2016 Sergio Pérez was the best performing non works Mercedes driver. He lead the Force India team to their most successful year in history, finishing 4th in the constructors championship scoring points in 16 events over the season. From a pure performance perspective Sergio Pérez has to be regarded as a genuine contender for the seat.

Over and above on track performance, Pérez is highly attractive from a commerical perspective. Mexico is a hugely important market for Mercedes, the car maker is looking to double car sales in the country by 2020. Having a national hero behind the wheel of a Silver Arrows would support this strategy.  Beyond this Sergio Pérez brings his own sponsors to a team. Mercedes are not a team struggling for budget, but opening doors to the Slim family (Telmex Group) will be more than welcome.

Of course Sergio recently signed a one year extension with Force India which in theory locks the Mexican in to the team until 2018, however were Mercedes to offer the services of Wehrlein alongside a discounted Power Unit I am sure an agreement could be found.

Sergio Pérez is a changed driver from the man who replaced Lewis Hamilton at Mclaren in 2013. He has proved his consistency and ability to work with a team during his time with Force India. He deserves another opportunity with a top team. He is the most logical option for Mercedes.

Would it prove to be a threat to Lewis Hamilton? Only time will tell. His has a unique ability to manage tyres and with the huge shift in regulations coming for 2017 this attribute could prove invaluable. At this time Sergio Pérez’s management have declined to comment on the possibility of such a move, but there should be no doubt they will be evaluating any opportunity should it arise.

Formula One: Active Ticketing joins Force India in Abu Dhabi

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Active Ticketing have joined Sahara Force India as partner for the 2016 season finale. The technology and security company will deliver an innovative mobile application at the 2016 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Active Ticketing branding will be visible on the chassis side of the VJM09 and on the drivers’ suits.
The Active Ticketing mobile platform will enhance the fan experience for the Sahara Force India VIP guests, who will be able to access a mobile pass, enter competitions, and view exclusive content about the team.
The system will generate valuable new insights for the team and showcase the benefits of mobile experiences as part of Sahara Force India’s hospitality offering.
Otmar Szafnauer, COO of Sahara Force India: “Mobile interaction is the new frontier of fan engagement and Active Ticketing is at the forefront of this sector. It’s great to be working together to offer our guests a fresh dimension to their Grand Prix experience.”
Lee Booth, CEO of Active Ticketing: “Sahara Force India is one of the most innovative teams in F1 today. Partnering with them to deliver a premium and engaging VIP guest platform is hopefully just the start of a long-term strategic relationship to create the ultimate fan and team experience.”
For more information on Active Ticketing head to the company website here
 

Formula One: The ultimate F1 Yard Sale

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As Christmas edges ever nearer Racing Gold, known for their Red Bull Racing PART of the Team Collection, are having a YARD SALE. The PART of the Team (POTT) Collection is a range of unique, functional art objects, hand-crafted from components which have run and raced on Red Bull Racing’s Formula One cars. The POTT is an exquisite range of products with the serious collector, or significant other of a serious collector in mind…

In a quest to connect with more of the sports fans, Racing Gold have introduced a new range calling it the“YARD SALE”. In reality, the amazingly engineered parts are from the very same archives as the POTT & are still re-functioned with care & style. However, the Yard Sale represents a new level of value. Starting at under £50 & capped at £200, the new range engages with more fans than ever before.

The range includes a stunning desktop pen set that uses a polished aluminium section of a part once destined for the Hi-Tech Hybrid KERS system. Inside this part is a carbon fibre disc also from the car, topped with a carbon fibre trimmed ball-point pen. £44.95 inc FREE UK delivery. The range topping pieces include variations of the original POTT brake disc mirror & 2 new mirrors from special wheel fairings. £179.99 – £199.99 3 new table lamps have been designed. The lay-shaft lamp uses a selection of gearbox parts in a style similar
the exclusive lamp found in the original POTT range. £99.99 – £199.99

The quality and ingenuity of these pieces really have to be seen to be believed. So for the F1 collector looking to bring their passion into everyday house hold items, or the partner looking for that ‘unique’ Christmas gift, look no further.

For more on the Racing Gold heritage check out this film:

Click here to visit the Racing Gold Yard Sale

Formula One: No Tim Holmes but still very special

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Ahead of Felipe Massa’s final home Grand Prix this weekend, Williams Racing title sponsor Martini has dedicated it’s iconic logo to the driver replacing the MARTINI with MASSA.

Whilst the livery is not the bold helmet inspired design imagined by motorsport designed Tim Holmes, the gesture demonstrates the close relationship Massa, Williams and Martini have developed since the Brazilian joined the team in 2014

 

The surprise livery change, the first of its kind for a Formula One partner, was revealed to the Brazilian-born driver today at the Autódrome José Carlos Pace track in Sao Paulo. In addition to the famous MARTINI ball and bar logo being replaced with MASSA, the rear wing has also been adorned with the phrase ‘Obrigado’ – which means ‘thank you’ in Portuguese.

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“I’ve always said that I drive the best looking car on the grid, but this takes it to a whole other level,” joked Felipe Massa.  He continued, “I’ve never known a sponsor to do this for a driver before. It’s an honour and I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit emotional about it.  But it goes to show that because of MARTINI’s heritage in racing, they are more than just a sponsor. They are a true partner and fan of this beautiful sport. I’ve been lucky to have them as part of my team the last three years.”

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Shane Hoyne, CMO, Bacardi Europe said, “Felipe isn’t just a driver, he’s a friend.  And not just to MARTINI but to his teammates and other drivers out there on the grid.  We thought it only right that we mark the occasion and give his name pride of place on the car. Obrigado on the rear wing is not just our way of saying thank you to him, but for Felipe to say thank you to all his fans in Sao Paulo.”

Felipe has spoken openly of a dream to thank his home fans with one final podium this weekend. With mixed conditions forecast and tensions simmering amongst the top teams all eyes will be on the Brazilian to realise his dream.

Click here to check out more helmet inspired F1 livery designs from Tim Holmes

Formula One: KIO Networks join Scuderia Toro Rosso

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Scuderia Toro Rorro have announced a new partnership with Mexican IT company KIO Networks. At the Mexican GP, their logo will appear prominently on the nose and barge boards of both cars.
Franz Tost, Team Principal commented: “Last year’s Mexican Grand Prix proved to be a great success, providing an amazing show. It’s a real pleasure to welcome KIO Networks on board for this race on their home soil, establishing a good new connection with such a high profile IT company. We look forward to enjoying together what we are sure will be another exciting race weekend for the many passionate fans filling the grandstands here.”
 
Sergio Rosengaus, KIO Networks’ CEO, said: “We are very happy to join forces with Scuderia Toro Rosso, with whom we share the passion for technology, innovation, IT and its high-level performance. We are happy to be associated with a team that, as KIO Networks itself, is daring, challenging and fun. We are sure that Carlos and Daniil will give their best on track and we can’t wait to see them in action at our home Grand Prix, with Scuderia Toro Rosso.”
This partnership will be a great opportunity for fellow Tech partner of Toro Rosso, Acronis to explore possible business to business opportunities. The Mexican Grand Prix paddock will be a buzz with senior leadership in a critical growth market for this industry.
KIO Networks partnered with the Lotus F1 team over the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix weekend.
 

Formula One: Motorsport network acquire Autosport & Haymarket Media motor racing portfolio

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Motorsport Network, the Miami-headquartered publisher of Motorsport.com and Motor1.com, today announced the acquisition of six business operations that make up the Haymarket Media Group’s interests in motorsport publishing, photography and events.

The acquired businesses in the Autosport portfolio include Autosport.com, a respected and authoritative digital voice in international motorsport. The website has a provenance derived from its sister business, Autosport Magazine. Continuously published since August 1950, the weekly magazine has a heritage that dates back to the very origins of the Formula One World Championship™.

In addition to the Autosport brand, Motorsport Network has also added F1 Racing, the premium monthly periodical, to its stable. F1 Racing is published in nine languages in 15 editions, sold in 60 countries and is the only magazine licensed by Formula One Management.

The print assets acquired also include Motorsport News, which has been the voice of British motorsport since the era of Moss and Fangio in the fifties.

The publishing interests are supplemented by the world’s richest and most extensive motorsport photographic archive, LAT Photographic. With 13 million images that date from 1895, the archive forms the central element of a full-service photo agency with staff presence at all major international motor racing series. The company also provides image production services and studio facilities.

The acquisitions by Motorsport Network are founded on the principle of preserving the rich heritage in Haymarket’s motorsport businesses. Its fans, followers and customers can continue to seamlessly enjoy the world’s best-loved racing websites, magazines and blue-riband events.

Best known for its Motorsport.com and Motor1.com brands, Motorsport Network speaks to 75 million people every month across 22 website editions operating in 16 languages. The success of the Motorsport Network has been founded on three guiding principles: speaking to audiences in their native tongue, packaging & presenting unique content for digitally engaged audiences. Together this provides customers & clients with an integrated array of products & services to connect with this global audience.

The acquisition of the Haymarket businesses will contribute a rich seam of heritage and unparalleled media assets to Motorsport Network’s dynamic business culture and intent to provide solutions in automotive and motor racing across digital, broadcast, social networking, merchandise & license and gaming.

Commenting on the announcement, Kevin Costello, CEO of the Haymarket Media Group, said, “Motor racing has formed part of the Haymarket portfolio for almost half a century and the company has nurtured these businesses from their origins to be global category leaders. However, we are reassured that the Motorsport Network are the right people to be custodians of these businesses for the next stage of their investment and development.

The acquisition and integration of the Haymarket motorsport portfolio into Motorsport Network will be stewarded by its Chairman, Zak Brown. “This milestone in acquiring the businesses that Haymarket has grown over decades will be recognised by everyone in the industry as a mark of our intent. All that is best about Autosport and its sister businesses will be preserved. Supported with investment and aligned with our dynamic organisational culture and high-speed growth that is attracting younger demographics to motorsport, the fusion of these two organisations presents tantalising opportunities for our staff and our clients alike.” he said. “This acquisition is part of a broader consolidation strategy and is aligned with a series of significant changes we’re witnessing across the motorsport landscape,” he added.

JWGP Opinion: The rapid expansion of the Motorsport Network juggernaut is overwhelming. The group is growing from not simply touching every element of motorsport to dominating or controlling it. On the one hand this could result in improvements in consistency in quality, the Motorsport Network is ultimately a business. It needs to generate a return on investment. The way in which this will be achieved remains to be seen, but it could result in restructuring across the networks. Dominating the world of motorsport journalism could have a negative impact on the quality and diversity in voices.

The motorpsort industry being dependant on a single network for specialised journalism could be a concern. The industry is dependant on their success to ensure sports are promoted.

The ultimate investors behind the Motorsport Network at this time have not been disclosed, but given Zak Brown involvement in the group and his rumoured future involvement with Liberty Media and taking on a leading role in Formula One Management, could the Motorsport Network be part of the Liberty Group?

It is never healthy for a single entity to control anything. The same can be said about Motorsport.

 

 

Formula One: Iceman becomes Fireman – Kimi’s Job Swap

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In the build up to this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Scuderia Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen took time away from the circuit to try his hand as a fire fighter in the latest project in the  the Shell V-Power Job Swap campaign.

Job Swap, as the name suggests, takes Scuderia Ferrari drivers away from the familiarity of an F1 cockpit and gives them an opportunity to experience other roles in which vehicle and fuel performance are critical for a very different reason. Following Sebastian Vettel’s job swap with a Paramedic earlier this year, Kimi set out to go one better working Mohd Uzair bin Abdullah – a veteran with Malaysia’s Fire and Rescue Department.

Unsurprisingly when commenting on his experience tackling a purpose build obstacle course in an 18 tonne fire truck Kimi remarked “The fire truck is such a different vehicle to my Ferrari car, and it was a new experience to drive it.”

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Uzair mentioned, “getting the opportunity to work with Kimi to understand how he safeguards himself, helped me realise how similar we are in our jobs. Although we face different challenges, ultimately we both strive to protect ourselves so we can perform better at our jobs.”

“Initially, we were unsure what to expect from this unique activity. In the end, both drivers discovered the importance of preparation, and the vital role played by protection in the performance of both roles. Shell is committed to motorsports as an integral part of our Research & Development programme. Our innovations developed for the track help us make better fuels for our customers, enabling them to perform on the road with engines protected by Shell V-Power” said Shairan Huzani Husain, General Manager of Shell Retail Malaysia/Brunei.

With a strong performance from Scuderia Ferrari in the opening practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Kimi and Sebastian look to be in a position to challenge for the top step of the podium this weekend. The team will be working closely with Shell to ensure the perfect balance between performance and efficiency as they seek to bring secure the best possible position in the 2016 Formula One World Constructors Championship.

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Formula One: Gi Group joins Scuderia Toro Rosso

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Italy’s leading multinational recruitment group, The Gi Group, have announced a 3 year partnership with Scuderia Toro Rosso this morning. The partnership will see Gi Group branding feature on the arms of drivers overalls. This partnership follows the recent announcement of a long term partnership between Acronis and the Italian team. Such developments serve to underline the independence of the team away from Red Bull and  demonstrate the credibility of team in it’s own right.

Speaking on the partnership Otello Valenti, STR Legal and HR director commented:

 “Success in Formula 1 needs a talented team to work in the best way possible, demonstrating ability, passion, energy and determination. Scuderia Toro Rosso has always sought out and brought on the most talented people and the partnership with Gi Group is a strategic collaboration to support the constant growth of our team.

“Scuderia Toro Rosso and Gi Group share a common vision; striving for excellence through the professional growth of personnel,” continued Valenti. “In the world of Human Resources and in Formula 1, one needs to work with speed, competence, organisation and creativity to always achieve the best possible result. Like Toro Rosso, Gi Group is an innovative team of proven experience and passion in its own sector. We believe that together, we can successfully tackle the challenges of Formula 1 and obtain ever better results.”
Echoing these remarks Stefano Colli-Lanzi, CEO of Gi Group added:
“We are very proud to have signed this partnership agreement with Scuderia Toro Rosso, a company which, like Gi Group, promotes Italian excellence around the world. We believe that, thanks to the know-how of both companies, this partnership will be able to enhance the chances of youngsters interested in embarking on a career in the very competitive and technological environment of Formula 1.”
Under this agreement the Gi Group and Scuderia Toro Rosso will  instigate combined initiatives such as “Formula Future”, a training programme to select, recruit and train talented young graduates, as well as a “Race Academy” which will create an ad hoc new group of young mechanics of a high standard to become part of the Race Team.
To find out more about the Gi Group you can visit the organisation home page here and follow them on social media here.
For more the the Formula Future and Race Academy initiative stay tuned to the Toro Rosso social media page here.