Category Archives: Formula 1

Formula One: Zak Brown’s strategic masterstroke?

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McLaren Honda’s announcement that Fernando Alonso will compete in the 101st running of the Indy 500 this week came at the perfect time for both the team and driver. After a more than challenging start to the 2017 season the team were in dire need of some positive press coverage. The move towards Indy, initialed by Zak Brown (Team Principle) has achieved exactly that.

There are a plethora of reasons as to why this move will be a positive for McLaren Honda moving forward, this article will seek to explore these from driver, commercial, and team perspective.

Driver: Fernando Alonso’s contract with McLaren expires at the end of the 2017 F1 season. Mclaren Honda’s failure to provide Alonso will a car capable of challenging for regular points let alone podiums or wins has been seen by many as a waste of Alonso’s talent. Should Fernando seek to remain in Formula One beyond his current agreement McLaren Honda will have their work cut out to convince him they can deliver a car that will allow him to challenge for a 3rd world championship. Zak Brown and the team realise this, and as such have begun to explore other ‘benefits’ they can bring to the table that other teams may struggle to offer. Running at the Indy 500 is one such benefit. With Honda power supplying half the grid in Indycar, slotting Alonso into a front running team was not a challenge. Realistically only McLaren could offer an active works F1 driver this opportunity.

Will this alone be enough to convince Alonso to stay? Beyond money, which at this point in his career may not be an incentive,  what else could they offer him? Running in LMP1 at Le Mans for the foreseeable future would prove very tough for McLaren to offer to Alonso. With only Porsche and Toyota capable of challenging for a win, it is doubtful a manufacturer drive would be open.

Through Zak Brown’s involvement in the Motorsport Network he has a connection to Formula E (Motorsport Network are minority shareholders of the championship) in addition McLaren supply ECU units. Could the team offer him a drive in Formula E alongside F1 from 2018 and beyond? Equally Zak Brown runs his own endurance racing team, could this be used to entice Alonso to events such as the Daytona 24hrs.

If McLaren can find Alonso success in other categories could they convince him to remain with the F1 team whilst they rebuild? Or could it show him there is more to life than Formula One.

Of course this assumes Alonso would perform well in other categories. The flip side of this strategy would be if Alonso struggles at the Indy500 or other events the team ‘allow’ him to compete in, he will devalue his own stock. He may make himself less appealing not only to F1 teams but also to other championships. In running at Indy Alonso risks limiting his own options when it comes to negotiating new a new agreement with McLaren.

Commercial: McLaren Honda’s recent struggle to retain and entice new partners has been well documented. With another underperforming season in prospect the team’s ability to ‘stop the rot’ is unlikely. Partners join Mclaren on the basis of front running exposure. They are not receiving this. Media coverage the team does receive is largely negative or not focused on racing.

Alonso running at the Indy 500 has created a good news story for the team, media coverage has been extensive and positive. This will continue into Indy. Through running a McLaren livery at the Indy 500 with all Mclaren’s partners gaining exposure, Mclaren will be able to make up for any exposure shortfall they may have faced as a result of disappointing performances in Formula One. Running at Indy will also give Mclaren’s partners additional exposure in the US, a key strategic market. This will help the team in future partner discussions.

The counter argument to this is that existing partners may realise they can achieve expansive coverage, greater than that of F1, simply by partnering with a top driver at a single event. Any partner / sponsor questioning a future with the team may be presented with a new strategic direction through this gimmick / project.

Team. There is no I in team. As fantastic as it is to see a current F1 driver taking part in the Indy 500, but Zak Brown and McLaren Honda management can’t for one second forget that they have fundamental problems to address within their own team. Issues that no PR stunt will overcome. There is talk that Mercedes have agreed to support to Honda in overcoming some of their Power Unit shortcomings, assuming the support leads to a turnaround in form, perhaps there is a light at the end of the Honda struggle. McLaren must focus on this. There is no point ploughing resources into keeping Fernando Alonso happy if the situation around overall team performance does not improve.

A side comment on the offer of Mercedes support. It is impossible to imagine a scenario in which Mercedes will give Honda sufficient information to enable them to challenge for outright performance. Will a Honda Power unit developed with Mercedes not just become an incredibly expensive customer power unit which similar to a Williams or Force India will not be allowed to win?

Could McLaren Honda heading to the Indy 500 also be a comment to the FIA ahead of discussions around future power unit regulations? If they find success in Indycar will Honda start to camping for the same power unit to be used in F1? Are McLaren in sufficient a position of strength to threaten to switch to Indycar should future F1 power unit regulations not shift in their favour?

In conclusion. Zak Brown’s commercial minded approach to management of McLaren Honda and their issues is hugely refreshing for the fan and for sponsors. I look forward to seeing this same dynamic approach being taken to resolving team performance issues.

Credit to Tim Holmes for the concept Mclaren Indycar livery imagery supporting this article. Follow Tim on Twitter here

 

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F2, F3, F4: Erreà Sport join Prema

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Italian clothing Manufacturer Erreà Sport continue their rapid growth throughout Motorsport with the announcement of a new partnership with Prema for 2017 and beyond.

Joining the ranks of the Sauber F1 Team, Mahindra Formula E team, & Manor Endurance Racing, this new partnership will see Erreà Sport represented across F1, F2, F3, F4, Formula E, and the World Endurance Championship, with further partnerships in motorsport in development.

Fans of Erreà Sport in motorsport can find the online store for the Sauber F1 Team and Mahindra Formula E team though this link. Highlights of the Prema and Manor Endurance Team collection will be made available in the coming weeks.

The 2017 Prema team wear collection is a result of coming together of minds between the Prema and Erreà Sport design teams. The collection reflects the teams Italian heritage and team history, alongside ensuring functionality for the team in races around the world.

Commenting on the partnership René Rosin, Team Principal, remarked:
“We are proud to partner an excellent Italian company like Erreà for what is expected to be a particularly demanding season. Like in all professional sports, also in racing every single component can make a difference and Errea, to whom we will entrust our personnel, will definitely be a key component of the team”.

Errea Sport Chairman Angelo Gandolfi added:
“We are delighted for this new and prestigious partnership. Prema and Erreà share the same values and represent a dynamic, efficient and determined combination, looking forward to score great results in the upcoming season. We worked hard together with the team in order to provide them with all the support they need to keep pushing the limits forward.”

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To keep up to date on  Prema through the 2017 season in motorsport you can follow them on Twitter here.

Formula One: Could F1 consider cloud seeding to ensure Sunday’s race?

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Friday free practice running for the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix was all but a complete washout. With conditions at the circuit and the neighbouring city, in which the hospital on call for medical emergencies from the race weekend, too poor for helicopters to operate in, the FIA delayed and eventually cancelled most of the days running.

Current weather forecasts suggest conditions will improve for tomorrow, but are likely to return on Sunday. Should forecasts prove to be accurate there is a real possibility that it will not be possible for the race to take place on Sunday as scheduled. With only a one week turnaround between the Chinese and Bahrain Grand Prix it will not be possible to hold the race on Monday or at a later date. As such FOM, the FIA, teams, drivers, and broadcasters are apparently in talks to host the entire race weekend activities tomorrow.

Within Formula One, there is no prescient for a race taking place a day earlier than scheduled, and in reality with the highly complex global broadcast agreements in place, it is highly unlikely that terms for running the race a day early can be agreed. Sponsors, Broadcasters, race attending fans, teams, will all seek compensation. As such at this point in time the most likely outcome, if the poor weather returns, is that fans will be treated to a four hour broadcast of no track action at all on Sunday.

This will significantly damage the reputation of Formula One globally and most specifically in Asia, a market in which the sport is struggling (note the discontinuation of the Malaysian Grand Prix agreement from 2018 announced earlier today). To avoid such an outcome it is time for Formula One Management to get creative? Could they look towards a solution involving Cloud Seeding?

Cloud seeding is a form of weather modification, a way of changing the amount or type of precipitation that falls from clouds, by dispersing substances into the air that serve as cloud condensation or ice nuclei, which alter the microphysical processes within the cloud. The usual intent is to increase precipitation (rain or snow), but hail and fog suppression are also widely practiced in airports. (thank you Wikipedia). The process could be applied in areas away from the circuit and the route to the hospital supporting the race.

It is understood organisers of the Singapore Grand Prix, have long used this technology to ensure a dry race weekend during the rain season for the region.

The process was used during the 2008 Beijing Olympics to ensure a dry Olympics.

No doubt, as the weekend processes, the weather forecast will evolve and fans concerns will evaporate!

Formula One: Giovinazzi impresses on his F1 debut

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Antonio Giovinazzi became the first Italian since Jarno Trulli to compete in a Formula Once race this weekend, standing in for Pascal Wehrlein for the Sauber F1 Team in Melbourne. The Scuderia Ferrari development and reserve driver was called up to the team with less than 12 hours notice following concerns being raised around Wehrlein’s ability to complete a race distance due to an injury sustained in the off season impacting his training schedule.

Having completed 2 days of pre-season testing for the team, Antonio Giovinazzi, found himself able to push team mate Marcus Ericsson throughout the race weekend, qualifying just on place behind him on the grid. In the race Giovinazzi bought his Sauber C36 home to finish 12th overall, whilst out of the points, team members and those outside the team were keen to praise his performance:

“A very impressive performance from Antonio during his first Formula One race. He showed his potential as well as what the car is capable of. The lap times were quite satisfying”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal

Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne, in his celebration of his Scuderia’s return to the top step added a note of recognition to Giovinazzi:

“Congratulations to Antonio for his debut in Formula One”

Commenting on his own performance Giovinazzi added:

“It was a good race, and I am happy with my performance today. My objective was to gain more experience and collect mileage in the car. I will sit together with my engineers to analyze areas where I can improve. I want to thank the Sauber F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari again for this opportunity. It was an amazing race weekend for me.”

See below to hear from the driver himself in this video uploaded by the team following the race:

New Italian team partner Errea Sport were delighted to see an Italian driver behind the wheel of the Sauber C36- Ferrari, to see a preview of the 2017 team merchandise see below:

The Sauber F1 team expect Pascal Wehrlein to be fully prepared to return to full race duties for the Chinese Grand Prix in 2 weeks time.

Formula One: Stroll responds to F1 pressure

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Williams F1 Driver Lance Stroll’s debut weekend in Formula One hasn’t been the smoothest. With lights out less than 30 minutes away, Lance, Felipe and Claire Williams explain how team and driver cope with and respond to pressure.

In this first film of the season for Sure, we hear about Lance Stroll’s journey to Formula One and his dominance in European F3 in 2016, and what gave Williams the confidence to put Lance behind the wheel of the FW40.

 

Formula One: Giovinazzi replaces Wehrlein at Sauber in Melbourne

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Italian Antonio Giovinazzi will replace Pascal Wehrlien for the Australian Grand Prix this weekend with the Sauber F1 Team. The Scuderia Ferrari development and reserve will make his Formula One debut sitting in for the German due to niggling fitness concerns following a incident during the pre-season Race of Champions Event.

My fitness level is not as it should be for a full race distance because of my training deficit. I explained the situation to the team yesterday evening. Therefore, the Sauber F1 Team has decided not to take any risks. It is a pity, but the best decision for the team.” Comments Wehrlien.

At this time both team and driver remain confident Pascal will return to the cockpit for the second round of the 2017 season in China.

“We have great respect of Pascal’s openness and professionalism. This decision was definitely not an easy one for him, it underlines his qualities as a team player. The focus is now on his fitness level, and in such a situation we do not take any unnecessary risks. Pascal will be in China as planned.” Remarked Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn.

Giovinazzo completed Fp3 in P20 as he aclimitises to the track and continues team integration.

Formula One: 2017 Regulations Reminders

With Qualifying for the opening round of the 2017 F1 World Championship just hours away Red Bull Racing’s Chef Aerodynamics Engineer Dan Fallows sat down with Mobil One’s The Grid to explain the new technical regulations for the season ahead and the intentions behind them.

Flying in the face of many commentators and his own team principle Fallows is speaks highly of the returning shark fin aerodynamic element for 2017. Many detractors including   senior leadership within Formula One Management sought to remove the fin ahead of the season opener.

Formula One: #5ForTheFans Shell Motorsport & Scuderia Ferrari fan Q&A

As the 2017 Formula One season got underway earlier today, Shell Motorsport & Scuderia Ferrari sat down to answers a series of questions from fans submitted through Twitter to Shell Motorsport. With Kimi, Seb and Shell’s Guy Lovett there is a sense of optimisation coupled with quiet confidence around their 2017 challenge.

Thanks to Guy for answering my question (@jonnywilde) in full and not giving the short response suggested by Sebastian!

Shell Motorsport will run more fan engagement sessions similar to this through the season, follow them on social media to get involved!

Formula One: Ricciardo dreaming of Champagne (Sparkling wine) from the top step

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo heads to his home Grand Prix, the opening race of the 2017 F1 season, in Melbourne with aspirations of a top result. In this race preview for Mobil One’s The Grid, Ricciardo explains the complexities of preparing for the Melbourne Grand Prix and how the team will be looking complete as many laps as possible through free practice to fine tune setup.

Having experienced the Melbourne podium in 2014 (as result which was taken away following a post race sanction), Ricciardo sets out a clear ambition to reach the top step in 2017 and “taste the big bottle of champagne” Unfortunately for Daniel, with Mumm Champagne being replaced by Chandon last season, should he reach the top step he’ll have to make do with sparkling wine. That being said I’m sure it’ll still taste sweet, even if it’s from a sweaty shoe!

Formula One: Ferrari & Kaspersky tackle increased cyber security threat in 2017

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Scuderia Ferrari together with longterm cyber security partner Kaspersky head into the 2017 Formula One season more aware than ever of the acute risk cyber attack places on both the team and the broader Ferrari S.p.A group.

Kaspersky Lab experts uncover more than 300,000 unique pieces of malware every day, new threats are evolving all the time. As cyber criminals develop tools individually tailored to each victim, indicators of compromise are no longer enough on their own to help organizations detect attacks. In this environment, knowing where you’re vulnerable is as important as your ability to detect and prevent cyber-attacks. Rounding this self-awareness out with the latest threat intelligence to help anticipate what’s around the next chicane is vital for an organization with Ferrari’s profile and reputation.

“To be able to foresee potential cyber-attacks and overall analysis of the global threat landscape is required. Kaspersky threat intelligence services proactively provide us with information we wouldn’t otherwise have.”
Alessandro Sala, Cybersecurity, IT quality and Compliance, Ferrari S.p.A
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From the Maranello factory to the Formula 1 circuit, more than 5,000 Ferrari endpoints and systems globally are secured by the world’s IT Security specialists, Kaspersky Lab.
As both companies’ technological vision and innovation extend to connected cars,Internet of Things and a constantly evolving web presence, Kaspersky Lab is deepening its technology partnership with Ferrari, delivering protection that extends beyond devices to the data itself, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Though we work in very different industries, we’re united by the same core business values: technological leadership and a passion for innovation and getting forever better at what we do,”
Kaspersky Lab founder and CEO, Eugene Kaspersky

Over a Grand Prix weekend teams collect more than 60gb of data from each car hitting the track. Through the use of Kaspersky technology, Scuderia Ferrari can take to the track safe in the knowledge their data is secure.  Formula One regualtions dictate any changes made to a vehicle whilst on track must be carried out by the driver (under instruction if required) this does not mean the team could not make the changes themselves, rather they are not allowed. Without the assistance of Kaspersky Ferrari could be vulnerable to an attack to these systems within a race environment. The consequences of which could put the safety of drivers and competitors at risk.

Similar to the bespoke fuel and lubricant required to operate a Formula One car, cyber security is rapidly becoming a fundamental requirement to compete. Having established their relationship with Kaspersky in 2012, as Scuderia Ferrari are better equipped that most to deal with this new threat.
For more information on Kaspersky and their customer facing product range click here.
You can follow Kaspersky motorsport and their activities in F1, Gp2, and endurance racing through there twitter feed here and on their dedicated website here