Carey responses to FOPA criticism
Formula One’s CEO Chase Carey has described the criticism by the ace promoters last week was “strange” and insists it will not change F1’s plans for the future.
Last week the Formula One Promoters’ Association (FOPA), which represents sixteen of the twenty-one races, issued a joint statement about their concerns about the move towards pay TV, the future of the regulations and the introduction of new venues at the expense of existing races.
The statement comes as five races, the British, Italian, Spanish, Mexican and German Grand Prix’s, all begin to renegotiate their contracts which are all due to expire at the end of the season.
FOPA chairman Stuart Pringle is also the managing director of Silverstone, which hosts the British Grand Prix and has been at loggerheads over a new contract with F1 for over a year. Carey said it was no surprise to see some venues upset, but is confident the “vast majority” are still supportive of Formula One’s vision for the future.
Carey told ESPN “I think, realistically, if you get 21 in a room you are bound to find a couple who have something to complain about. In all honestly, I thought the meeting [with race promoters] was incredibly positive.”
“I thought there was tremendous support from the vast majority and they have a great appreciation for what we are doing. The fact that a few of them wanted to find something to complain about, that’s life.” But he said the majority of the promoters are supportive and are excited about what we are doing.
FOPA’s statement cited “a lack of clarity on new initiatives and a lack of engagement with promoters on their implementation” as one of the concerns with F1, but Carey countered that by saying a conference to update promoters on new initiatives was the very reason they were meeting in London.
Asked about free to air TV, he said “We certainly value reach and in many places we have expanded the coverage on broadcast television.”
“There is no doubt that the sports world has been moving for a long time towards pay vehicles, if you look at football in Europe it is almost uniquely pay-platform based, and clearly digital is becoming a big force.”
Baku signs contract extension
Organisers of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix have signed a three-year contract extension which keeps the capital Baku on the calendar until 2023. The deal is the first contract extension to be agreed this year.
Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey said the race “has become one of the most popular of the season”. Azerbaijan’s sports minister Azad Rahimov said the move would allow the race to “maximise commercial revenues”.
He added: “With these exciting opportunities in mind, extending our contract was never in question and we are delighted to stay in this wonderful sport for another five years at least.”
Since Baku joined the calendar as the Grand Prix of Europe in 2016, the race has become known for its drama and excitement. The street circuit is known as the fastest street circuit in the world, so far no driver has won the race more than once.
Rahimov said extending the contract was “never in question” because the new deal would allow it to “maximise commercial revenues through increased fan-engagement activities and a brand-new sponsorship approach to engage our local and regional businesses with Formula 1’s global platform”.
Honda feels “positive” on the simulator
Max Verstappen says that the first Red Bull car powered by Honda “feels positive” on the simulator, however, he is wary of making any conclusions before driving the car on a track.
Red Bull have switched from Renault to Honda power for 2019 hoping it can allow them to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari for titles. The Japanese manufacturer made significant progress in 2018, but Verstappen told his official website he does not expect to match Mercedes and Ferrari for power at the start of the new season.
He said at a fashion launch last night, “I have only driven the new car in the simulator, which feels positive. But of course you will never know what the other teams are doing.”
“We’ll have to wait and see. It is exciting, although that will really come when I sit in the car. Prior to that it is hard to know what to expect.” Honda has set itself the target of being ahead of Renault at the start of the year, and is hoping that it can close the gap to the top two by the end of 2019.
Red Bull and Verstappen have talked up the new partnership with Honda, after taking digs at Renault last year and questioning its commitment. Verstappen added: “It is a new start with Honda, everyone is very motivated. We all look forward to the new season.”
Verstappen will be hoping to build on his fourth-place finish last year, he says more wins is the target with Honda.
Red Bull announce crypto sponsorship
Red Bull have announced the first sponsorship deal for Formula One by a cryptocurrency. The recent boom in the digital currency has seen a number of Formula E teams and drivers link up with companies, but Red Bull’s announcement marks the first foray of an F1 team into the industry.
The multi-year deal will see FuturoCoin’s branding appear on the car and uniforms of the drivers. Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner said “In recent years, the rise of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies has been truly remarkable.”
“We’re delighted to be the first Formula 1 team to embrace this, through our partnership with FuturoCoin. Secure digital currencies are on the leading edge of technological development and we are very excited to be part of this revolution.”
Roman Ziemian, co-founder of FuturoCoin added: “Cryptocurrencies and Formula One are very similar and their values are much alike; speed, technology and being ahead of their time. I’m a huge fan of motorsport and F1 has always intrigued me.”
“The sponsorship is an exciting new chapter for our company and will be a global platform for us to drive awareness of FuturoCoin.”
Recently Haas driver Romain Grosjean announced a personal sponsorship deal with SoccerCoin, with its logo set to appear on his helmet through the 2019 season.
Alonso “curious” about 2019
Fernando Alonso says that he is “curious” to see whether Mercedes dominance will end this year because he believes that “the moment is near.”
The two times champion who retired from the sport last year told Corriere della Sera, Alonso said he would closely follow a number of stories in F1 this year, including the comeback of Robert Kubica and how new Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc fares.
He said “I will follow Kubica. His story is extraordinary. Until a few months ago, Robert seemed to have lost all possibility. He has nothing to lose and will not miss a step.
“Then, Leclerc at Ferrari. He is young, intelligent, and talented.
“I’m curious to see if the Mercedes cycle will end. I feel that the moment is near.”
Wolff hopes that Calderon gets to race
Mercedes ambassador and former Williams driver Susie Wolff is hopeful that Sauber test driver Tatiana Calderon will get a race chance in Formula One, but has conceded that the superlicence points system is an additional “stumbling block.”
The Mexican has spent the last three years in GP3 and this year could become the first women to race in Formula Two since it was reborn as GP2 in 2005. Last year, she made her F1 testing debut last year during private outings with Sauber.
However, FIA regulations state a driver must earn 40 to qualify for the mandatory F1 race licence, and Calderon’s lack of significant championship results means she has no superlicence points to her name.
The Scotswomen who was the first women to take part in a race weekend in twenty years in 2014, says she has been impressed by the Colombian.
Wolff told Motorsport.com, “I think Tatiana is doing a fantastic job,”. “I’ve never doubted of her ability, so I hope she keeps progressing and makes it further up.”
Asked if Calderon would make it to F1, Wolff who is now Venturi’s Formula E team principal, founder of Dare To Be Different and an ambassador for Mercedes, added, “I would like to see that happen. F1 changed that you need points for a superlicence. This creates another stumbling block. When I was driving there wasn’t the need to have points for the superlicence.”
Wolff admits that Calderon’s challenge will be getting enough super licence points to race in F1, but has proven that she is very capable.