WTCC: Volvo announces multi-year FIA WTCC programme with Polestar Cyan Racing

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Polestar Cyan Racing will enter the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2016 with two Volvo S60 Polestar race cars as start of a multi-year programme.

”We have chosen the FIA WTCC as our global motorsport platform as it combines the cutting edge technology of our Volvo cars with exciting racing all over the world. The championship enables us to further develop our technology and utilise development from the racing circuits directly to our products for performance oriented Volvo customers,” said Niels Möller, COO of Polestar, the Volvo Cars Performance Brand.

The announcement comes on the day 30 years after Volvo Cars claimed the 1985 European Touring Car Championship title with the iconic Volvo 240 Turbo. Fast-forward to 2016 and Polestar Cyan Racing will carry the legacy to a new challenge, by taking on the world title with the brand new Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 race car.

Volvo WTCC 2016

”This is a great day for all of us at Polestar Cyan Racing to announce our assault on the FIA World Touring Car Championship, a programme that boils down to one thing; to bring the world title to Sweden,” said Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin, Head of Motorsport at Polestar.

Cyan Racing is the official motorsport partner to Polestar, the Volvo Cars Performance Brand, a cooperation started in 1996 with six STCC driver titles and seven team titles under its belt, most recently securing a double 2015 STCC title for the third year in succession.

Following an evaluation season in the 2011 WTCC and two seasons in the Australian V8 Supercars, 2016 marks the start of the Polestar Cyan Racing’s first multi-year programme in a world championship.

”We have got respect for the task ahead of us that we take on with absolute commitment. This is a long-term effort and we have got an extensive testing programme during the winter that will continue alongside our first WTCC season in 2016 that is all about learning,” said Christian Dahl, CEO of Cyan Racing.

Volvo 240 ETCC

The 240 Turbo dominated the racing circuits in Australia, Finland, Germany, Portugal, New Zealand and Sweden during the mid-eighties. Volvo had proved the strength of their concept with a downsized four-cylinder turbo charged engine against the might of the likes of BMW, Rover and Jaguar, all using six, eight and 12-cylinder engines.

The all-new Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 race car carries the legacy of the 240 Turbo, featuring a newly developed 4-cylinder turbo engine of 400 horsepower, based on the cutting edge technology of the new Drive-E Volvo engine family.

”To use the Volvo engine as base and not go for the available generic WTCC race engine for our car was a no-brainer. Volvo engines are suitable for racing purposes in terms of power, technology and durability, as we have proven previously in the STCC, V8 Supercars and WTCC. The Drive-E engine is a perfect example with its low friction technology and exotic materials. We have been able to utilise a lot of development work from earlier racing programmes as well as road car development and we are keen to get going against the best in the 2016 WTCC,” said Mattias Evensson, head of engine development at Cyan Racing.

Reigning STCC champion Thed Björk, three-time STCC champion Fredrik Ekblom and multiple STCC race winner Robert Dahlgren are part of the development work of the WTCC programme.

Further information on the 2016 WTCC Polestar Cyan Racing programme, including driver line-up, will be revealed in due course.

Opinion : Volvo entering the WTCC is a great sign not only for the series but for motorsport in general, after a lull in interest due to global economic uncertainty manufacturers are coming back to motorsport. Volvo choosing the WTCC to showcase their increased commitment to motorsport is an interesting one, the series has been historically dominated by one manufacturer, the current being Citroen. To succeed Volvo will have to make significant investment into the program. From a personal perspective Volvo’s historical involvement in motorsport, specifically the BTCC with the 850 had a huge influence the cars I have chosen to drive having owned a V40, V50, & V60 I can say with confidence their presence in touring cars has been successful marketing tool for me! I wish the team all the best in the 2016 campagin and beyond 

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Formula E: FanBoost opens for Beijing ePrix

Fanboost2

FanBoost is now open for the first race of the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing, with a new-look in-race voting initiative for this season.

To cast your vote visit www.fiaformulae.com/fanboost

Fans can vote for the driver of their choice to receive an extra speed boost during the race. In a change to last season, FanBoost now closes six minutes into the race allowing fans to make their vote count during an ePrix.

Due to the changes FanBoost is now only available in the second car after a driver makes their mid-race car swap. The three drivers with the most votes will each receive an extra 100kJ of power to be used in a window between 180kW and 200kW.

When deploying FanBoost it can only be used once, a series of short bursts will not be possible.

Follow the progress of your favourite driver via the live FanBoost leaderboard which monitors real-time voting. As well as being able to vote during the race, fans will also find it much easier to have their say as changes to the voting system will make it possible to vote using a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

To submit your vote using a hashtag you must include #FanBoost plus a hashtag followed by the full name of the one driver you wish to vote for.

Voting will be available through the official Formula E website and app and fans will be able to vote once a day through each of the available channels.

When does FanBoost open?

FanBoost voting will open 12 days before each race and close after the opening six minutes of the race. This will give fans and viewers an even greater ability to influence the outcome of the race.

How do FanBoost votes work?

As well as being able to vote via the Formula E website and app, fans will now be able to vote using a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. FanBoost will only be available to the winning drivers on their second car following their mid-race car swap. Voting will be available through the official Formula E website and app and fans will be able to vote once a day through each of the available channels.

What are the benefits of FanBoost?

The three winning FanBoost drivers will each have an extra 100kJ of energy available to them in their second car only. The extra energy is to be used in a power window between 180kW and 200kW.

What are the FanBoost restrictions?

FanBoost can only be used once. A series of short bursts will not be possible.

Live leaderboard

Formula E will aggregate votes in real-time and power a live leaderboard on the Formula E website to display the ranking of the weekly top contenders. The leaderboard will also be displayed in real-time during the live race broadcast.

OPINION: Fanboost represents Formula E’s dedication to fan engagement. This evolution of the engagement tool can be seen as an assurance the fans still come first. Building functionality to capture in race votes and votes across various social media platforms requires investment and is a testament to the series listening to its fans. Purists still challenge the place Fanboost should have in racing, but Formula E isn’t limiting it’s appeal to purists. They are of course welcome, but the sport wants to introduce an new audience to motorsport. Fanboost works. 

That being said, expecting fans to be able to correctly spell the name of the drivers they’re voting for could prove an entertaining challenge!

Formula One: Sochi Stats & Round Up

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What a difference a year makes! Formula One returned to Russia this weekend and for most fans it was fair to say expectations of a great race were pretty low. Thankfully the second running of the Sochi GP proved to be a huge improvement, with excitement through to the final lap.

Congratulations to Lewis on his win, to Mercedes in clinching their 2nd successive constructors crown, and a huge congratulations to Sergio Perez and the Force India team for a well deserved podium. Gambling on an early pit stop during the send safety car period Sergio kept his calm despite huge almost overwhelming pressure to claim his second podium for the team

Congratulations also to Pirelli on the extension of their sole supply agreement to F1 through to 2019. Further details to follow in due course. In the meantime enjoy this inspired Ushanka (pictured) look Pirelli bought to the podium and these fantastic info-graphics!

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Formula One: Carlos Sainz & Team update

Sainz
Driver & Team Update:
Carlos Sainz (STR10-04, Car 55)
Third Practice Session – Best lap: 1:42.683, pos. 15th, 19 laps
Qualifying – did not take part
“Hi everyone! As you can see I am fine. My back and my neck are just a bit sore from the accident, but I’m totally ready. Hopefully tomorrow I will wake up in a good shape and maybe I can try and race – this is definitely the intention! Obviously we need to be cautious… I’ve always been conscious. As soon as the accident happened I tried to talk to the team on the radio, but it wasn’t working and those must have been some scary moments… I’d like to thank everyone for their support, it’s really nice to receive all your messages at a moment like this one! I hope to see you all tomorrow out there!”
 
Phil Charles (Chief Race Engineer)
“Our first considerations are obviously for Carlos. It was quite a big crash for him but it’s good to know that he feels well. We will now need to wait until tomorrow morning to hear if his final FIA medical checks are okay.
On the engineering side we are still finalising the details of our crash investigation. However so far there are no significant findings to talk about. From a personal point of view I am quite impressed to see that the car has survived such a shunt in quite a healthy way: the nose crush zone has worked very efficiently and the four wheels were still retained by the tethers. The monocoque looks to be in good shape as well.
Talking a little more about the car performance, both drivers were settling down nicely in P3 before Carlos’s crash, doing long-run tyre tests early on. In qualifying with Max, he did a good job as we were still evolving our approach as well, given we didn’t get a short run with either driver in P3. Most significantly we had to make a decision on the way we used the tyres selecting between build-push or push-charge-push. We elected for the second option in Q3. It is obviously difficult to say for sure which would have been better but Max put together a pretty good lap and I think we achieved most of what we could have today with our package.”
Franz Tost (Team Principal)
“I’m very happy that Carlos is ok and out of hospital, this is the most important thing for us! I hope he will have a good night’s sleep and tomorrow morning he will have to go through the FIA medical checks to decide if he will be able to take part in tomorrow’s race. Now, just to clarify what happened, prior to the accident, Carlos had completed a long-run on the Option tyre, before changing to the Prime to do two further laps. On Primes the grip level is lower. In addition he had changed the brake shape on the steering wheel, which meant he had more braking rearwards. A combination of these two factors might have been the cause of the rears locking, which made the car uncontrollable.”
Opinion: Carlos Sainz was fortunate to avoid serious injury in this FP3 incident. Whilst the team remain unclear as to the cause, the implication from Franz Tost appears to be driver error.  All parties seem hopeful Sainz will participate in tomorrow’s race. Presumably to be considered mandatory FIA regulated medical tests will need to be completed tomorrow morning. 

Formula One : Sochi Stats – Tyres

Williams Sochi

Tyre statistics of the day:

Supersoft Soft Intermediate Wet
kms driven *  0  1071  298  473
sets used overall **  0  20  18  14
highest number of laps **  0  15  8  12

* The above number gives the total amount of kilometres driven in FP1 and FP2 today, all drivers combined.
** Per compound, all drivers combined.

Comment: With the diesel spill in FP1 reducing available testing time and mixed conditions in FP2, teams are yet to trial the supersoft tyre around the Sochi circuit. Improved conditions are expected over the rest of the weekend so we can expect a very busy FP3 and with a wealth of super soft tyres available to all teams, an aggressive approach to qualifying.

Formula E: Julius Bär extend Global partnership agreement

JuliasBaer

Formula E has today announced that Julius Bär, the leading Swiss private banking group, will remain as the championship’s Global Partner till the end  of season five.Julius Bär, who joined Formula E as a Global Partner prior to the inaugural Beijing ePrix last year, share similar values to the fully-electric series such as innovation, sustainability and forward-looking pioneering spirit.

Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E, said: “I am delighted that Julius Bär remains the Global Partner of the FIA Formula E Championship until the end of season five in 2019. This long-term partnership highlights Julius Baer’s continuous support and commitment for the series and shows that we share common values of innovation and sustainable mobility.”

Boris F.J. Collardi, Chief Executive Officer of Julius Bär, commented on the extension of the partnership: “After the success of the inaugural championship, Julius Bär is very proud to extend its commitment to support the FIA Formula E Championship as the exclusive Global Partner until 2019. Since the beginning of the partnership Julius Baer and Formula E have shared common values such as innovation, sustainability and forward-looking pioneering spirit.

We look forward to continue to adhere to these values and to share a vision of a world with more sustainable means of transport with our stakeholders and clients.”Speaking about the addition of the Hong Kong ePrix on the calendar in season three, KavenLeung, Deputy Region Head Asia Pacific & CEO North Asia at Julius Bär, added: “It is wonderful to bring the FIA Formula E Championship to Hong Kong in 2016, which really shows the attraction of this international city. Not only does the tournament’s pioneering spirit meet our business and brand needs in a key market like Hong Kong, it is also an effective platform for us to engage with the communities in which we operate.”

Opinion: Julius Bär extending this agreement is testament to level of confidence Formula E Management have managed to instil around the series. It should be noted the value of the agreement has not been documented in public, this could be interpreted in numerous ways most of which are positive for the series. It can be expected Julius Bär are providing the series with the services is would offer to clients and using Formula E as a basis for business to business engagements. Formula E represents an appealing cornerstone to a private banking portfolio. 

Julius Bär will no doubt play a key role in Formula E’s ambition for to achieve stock listing in the near future. 

Opinion : Social Media and Formula One

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Barely a day goes by went I don’t see someone commenting on the need for Formula One to embrace social media.  The latest coming Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche

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“F1 must instead embrace the digital world and develop interactive strategies”

There can be no denying Formula One Management, FOM,  have taken a very cautious approach to social media, on the face of it this is born out of concern around damaging the cash cow that has been national broadcasting rights and the lack of clarity around how to monetise social media. Both concerns are valid. Social Media in its current form is great for increasing brand awareness, but Formula One is established. So how will social media improve Formula One as a product?

2015 has seen significant investment from FOM in improving content available through social media and developing a vehicle to deliver this content seen in the much improved F1 app.  Charges exist around elements of the content available but a surprising amount of exclusive insight has been made available with no restrictions or charges.

This is just the start. The folk at FOM are a bunch of clever people, they haven’t let go of the challenge to monetise a social media following. Mindful of developments in other sports, they have identified a commercial opportunity. Rather than simply launching a service, in the true spirit of social media, they plan to make their followers believe they’ve devised the opportunity themselves. What is this opportunity? In race gambling. A long established gambling model in Football, Rugby, Horse Racing, In play gambling seems to be such a great fit for Formula One it’s amazing no one has thought about it already!

Working with Tata Communications FOM launched a fan competition earlier this year asking entrants to propose technical solutions to enable fans to make and communicate predictions on race outcomes during the race itself. The only element not called out in the project brief was suggesting fans ability to monetise successful predictions. Whilst the winning entries refer to awards for success in points, turning points money is not a huge step.

Armed with fan support FOM have potentially unlocked an entire new sector for the sport. FOM could integrate live odds into social media feed and develop gambling platform through their own service, or more likely demonstrate proof of concept and sell in race gambling rights to the highest bidder.

skysports

skybet

Imagine if Sky Sports Commentary included live odds available only through Sky Bet on events taking place during the race.

You may wonder what a fan could bet on during a race; the more appropriate question is what couldn’t they bet on, 1st pitstop for car 44, lap on which fastest lap would be set, the list is endless.

You may also wonder how the odds for such events would be calculated. Well the data is already in place, teams have predictive software running throughout a race weekend to optimise performance and results, the data collection used for this could adapted with minimal investment to develop live odds.

FOM have, through PayTV agreements, confirmed there is an audience prepared to pay for the sport. This audience is likely to have a high confidence around their appreciation for the sport and highly likely to be willing to put their money where their mouth is. Especially is there is a feeling of being able to outsmart the management!

So FOM use their social media platform to launch in race gambling. They prove the concept, sell the rights or allow teams to generate income through agreements with gambling sites (for a fee of course) and then what?  Formula One Management move on, on to the next project to further add value to the product that is Formula One.

Formula One – OPINION: Red Bull Racing to enter 2016 F1 season with Ilmor Engineering.

RBR

Disclaimer. Views expressed in this blog are my own. They represent a rational pragmatic view of a situation.

I’ll kick off with the headline. Red Bull Racing will enter the 2016 F1 season with a self-funded engine program supported by Ilmor. Now I realise this view flies in the face of 90% of what the team and media are reporting, but hear me out. Why wouldn’t they?

In 1997, Dietrich Mateschitz purchased a majority shareholding in the Sauber F1 team; this investment came only 3 years after Red Bull launched globally. Dietrich Mateschitz is a self-made billionaire who only a few years prior to his F1 involvement invested his entire life savings on buying a 49% share in Taiwanese Beverage Company bought to his attention by chance when travelling on business suffering with jetlag. It can be safe to say that the first significant investment Dietrich Mateschitz made with his new found wealth was into Formula One. The cynic could say it was simply because he saw the marketing potential of the sport for his brand; my personal belief is he has a passion for motorsport. Either way, passion and marketing potential do not disappear overnight. Walking away from the sport, I believe, is not an option.

Take a second to consider the success of Red Bull. This did not happen by mistake, the growth and development of the business has been carefully structured and strategically managed. This approach to business would not allow itself to be reliant on the goodwill of its peers to allow it to stay in the market. We cannot be expected to believe that Red Bull Racing truly expect Ferrari or Mercedes to supply them with engines, media coverage around these talks has been managed as a distraction technique. Something those with experience of Formula One Management will be well versed in.

The struggles Renault & Red Bull Racing have experienced in the hybrid era of the sport did not come as a surprise to the team. In 2013 the team, despite clinching their fourth consecutive constructor’s championship were making moves to streamline the operation. In the knowledge of a drop in competitiveness the team discontinued the contracts of a number of employees working on temporary contracts. With the knowledge that performances were unlikely to meet those of their competitors it could be argued that the team began considering the long term future of their relationship with Renault at this point already.

In the first half of the 2014 season the Red Bull Racing Renault relationship rapidly deteriorated. Before the first lap of the Melbourne GP Red Bull Technologies had already seemingly taken on some responsibility of engine development entering into an agreement with AVL, the world´s largest privately owned and independent company for the development of powertrain systems with internal combustion engines, to resolve immediate performance issues and use the company rolling road facilities. At this time there was a rumour Red Bull Technologies signed off investment in their own in house rolling road.

Later in 2014 Helmut Marko publically earmarked the Austrian GP as a milestone date by which time Red Bull Racing expected Renault to have resolved performance issues. There was no public statement around the consequence of failing to meeting this milestone, but it is my opinion that this was this point at which Red Bull Technologies green lit their engine development partnership evaluation between AVL and Ilmor. Renault, in my opinion, had full awareness of this project and the likely end point.

Moving further forward consultation between Red Bull Technologies, Renault and Ilmor was made public; the details of the agreement remained unclear, but Mario Illien (Ilmor co-founder) was present as a guest of Red Bull Racing  at a number of races in 2014. It was stated that Mario Illen acted advisory capacity providing direction on possible development routes for the Renault power unit, earlier this year it was announced that Renault had elected not to take the development path outlined through the Ilmor partnership. In my opinion this represented Renault allowing a contractual option defined by Red Bull Technology to expire.

It is my belief that the ‘messy divorce’ between Red Bull Racing and Renault is around the Ilmor engine development program. The Ilmor program uses Renault developed technology as a baseline. Red Bull will argue they have been involved and invested in the development since the beginning and as such lay claim to the rights to the engine. Renault of course will disagree. This disagreement will be concluded through a financial settlement, and the basis for future Red Bull Racing engine supply will remain the original Renault power unit with development direction becoming Ilmor’s domain. The project may latterly be badged by another manufacturer.

When I have discussed this option in the past I have lambasted on two key points. Firstly, the time it take s to develop an engine, and secondly Red Bull can’t afford an engine program. I don’t see either of these arguments as valid.  To support this I contacted a Cosworth representative some weeks ago to understand the time they believe it would take to develop a power unit compliant with current regulations, their response; 10 months. Red Bull Technologies and Ilmor by the start of preseason testing for the 2016 season may have had as much as 18 months (Since the 2014 Austrian GP), and will have been using an existing engine to base the concept on  which would serve to further reduce the development  time required.  To address financing, how much do we believe it costs to develop an engine? If we consider Red Bull Racing have been awarded $200M in prize funds over the past two years alone, and have an extremely healthy sponsorship portfolio minimising the investment Red Bull have to make into their own racing team, despite operating as a private company and as such not reporting profits, we can be confident Red Bull is a highly profitable organisation. Red Bull has the money. It should also be noted the cost of engine development may not be paid up front. The cost of capital could be shared over future years performances, with FOM heritage payment assured Red Bull could borrow money against his assurance to fund an engine program if necessary. So in summary, they’ve had the time and they can afford it!

If Red Bull pulled out of F1 they face significant penalties from FOM and will be left with extensive racing infrastructure on their books. The cost of leaving the sport is greater the than the cost of a self-funded engine development route.

So, to 2016 and the prospects for Red Bull Racing & Toro Rosso, it is my view that the current ‘negotiations’ or lack thereof with Mercedes and Ferrari are somewhat of a front. Red Bull wants to position themselves as the injured party with no other option than a self-funded program. This will go some way to once again endear the team to fans of the sport. Success with the Ilmor project will not come overnight, but that is fine. The teams can spend 2-3 seasons as a capable mid field entrants, focusing on restoring their reputation as a fun team with the fans, whilst using their clout with FOM and the FIA to restore an emphasis on aerodynamics in future technical regulations.  Success in Formula One is cyclical. Red Bull, despite what we see through the media appreciates this and remains fully committed to the sport.

Formula E – Jaime Alguersuari retires from racing

Jaime Alguersuari

Aged 25, Jaime Alguersuari has earlier today announced his retirement from racing. In a roughly translated statement to  Spanish media,  Jaime confirmed there was no underlying media reason for his retirement rather that he fell out of love with racing. After a spell with Toro Rosso in Formula One as part of the Red Bull Driver development programme Jaime spent time as a development driver in a series of categories and team before participating in the inaugural Formula E season with the Virgin Racing team. Following an unexplained fainting incident during the Russian round of the series the FIA suspended his racing license pending medical tests. No explanation for this incident has been provided but Jaime has confirmed this is not the sole motivation behind his retirement.

Opinionated MotorSport Journal

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