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Reporters – 07/04/2019

F1 continues to debate what direction it should go in 2021, ahead of another round of negotiations before the Bahrain Grand Prix. One of the sticking points is the financial rules a deeply divisive issue, why does Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul believe this needs to be resolved first?

Financial rules key to Concorde Agreement

Renault’s F1 managing director and team principal Cyril Abiteboul believes that reaching agreement on financial rules should be the first priority in the discussions about the next set of regulations which are due to be brought in 2021.

The cost cap proposal is a key element of Liberty’s plans and one of the most controversial, as teams have questions about how it will be implemented fairly and regulated. Next week, a key meeting of the Strategy Group and F1 Commission London will see some progress made.

Abiteboul told Motorsport.com, “There is a lots of dialogue between the teams and F1 and the FIA, in particular on the budget cap. That’s a very complex set of new regulations, and something that did not exist. So every day, every week, we are making progress to address some of the concerns.”

“As far as Renault is concerned because we think that something needs to be seriously done to contain the costs to be competitive in F1, we are massively in support of the budget cap.”

“That’s why we’re working very actively to make it as robust as possible, and according to what will be our assessment at the end.”

Abiteboul says that it is important that decisions are made soon so teams can start planning and decide on the future of the sport and whether to commit to a new Concorde Agreement.

Saying “In order to do that we need to seriously get things ticked off, in particular on the financial side, on the governance.” The three areas which need clarity on are the financial distribution, governance and the budget cap, the key areas which will show the sustainability of the business model.

“Then I would almost say that the set of regulations is secondary. Once the budget cap is introduced then we move the exposure to the cost of the regulations, and then they can define almost any regulation they want.”

Abiteboul acknowledges that it’s not easy for F1 and the FIA to come up with solutions that will satisfy all the teams.

 

Pressure returned to Sebastian Vettel this week, following another mistake in Bahrain and the dominance by teammate Charles Leclerc, questions have been asked about his future. Despite this presumptive title rival Lewis Hamilton has defended him, but why does he believe he will bounce back?

Hamilton defends Vettel

Lewis Hamilton has defended his expected main title rival Sebastian Vettel following a costly battle during the Bahrain Grand Prix, believing that the “great athlete” will bounce back.

The German’s mistake while battling with Hamilton wheel to wheel, saw Vettel lose second place and saw him drop to fifth. Vettel’s error was similar to the mistakes made last season, where he spun out in Monza, Suzuka and Austin.

But when that streak was put to Hamilton, the world champion leapt to the defence of his title rival. He told Sky Sports, “There are too few of them to really look too much into it. It happens to all of us. Just because you’re a multiple world champion it doesn’t mean you’re not going to have off-weekends.”

“It’s more accumulative. You look at Vettel’s career and he’s had stunning performances that far outweigh the weaker races, and when he’s spun, for example, they are minuscule on the status that he’s accumulated and created.”

Hamilton says that the windy conditions in Bahrain made it difficult for Vettel. Hamilton to victory follows a heavy deficit to new Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc, who dominated the Bahrain race before engine issues handed Hamilton the win.

Hamilton said, “There are always times when you happen to just not get the right car set-up. You guys don’t get to see all the little things that we’re doing and it just doesn’t happen to work that weekend and the differences are so small, yet they look so big.”

 

New regulations this year has already created closer racing and better track battles across the field. This week, new research by the sport’s governing body shows that there could be more to come?

Overtaking could double in 2019

Simulations to look at the impact of the changes to the aerodynamic regulations indicate that overtaking this season could double at some races this season.

Regulation changes including simpler front wings, bargeboards and brake ducts, plus a simpler and wider rear wing, have been introduced this season attempting to create closer racing and improve the effectiveness of the DRS.

While in Melbourne it appeared to have little success, but in Sakhir, at a more conventional circuit the changes appeared to be more effective. This suggests that the impact of the changes could be circuit dependent.

In the FIA’s Magazine released this week and written before last weekend, technical head of single seaters, Nikolas Tombazis said “We were not expecting a huge delta in Australia, which is a difficult track at which to overtake in any case.”

“Some simulations were showing a +10% increase of overtaking, assuming a similar evolution of a race, of course. In other races the same simulations expect a more sizeable increase, possibly to the tune of +50%.” He says that the full effectiveness of the changes will not become clear until later in the year.

The regulation changes were not expected to show their effectiveness in Melbourne, admitted Tombazis. However, he says that the race did show that they were going in the right direction.

Tombazis described the wider rear wing, which has resulted in a much bigger gain from utilising the DRS, as a “safe bet” to complement the other changes to address “a worsening trend”. He admits that its not perfect and that there were things which could have been slightly different.

He added “Overall, I’m pleased with the direction of the aerodynamic characteristics. I certainly don’t think we have arrived at the final destination point and we can never sit back and say, ‘OK, it’s all fine’.”

 

Breakaway series are nothing new, but chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone has reviled that talks have taken place between him and leading teams about a breakaway. Although he admits it’s not going to happen, it still makes for interesting reading

Ecclestone plots possible breakaway

F1 chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone has told RaceFans that two F1 bosses have recently discussed the possibility of forming a breakaway series. However the former CEO and team principal doubt that the idea has a chance of success.

Ecclestone says he met with Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff and Lawrence Stroll, who took over the Racing Point team last year, met with Ecclestone at his home in Gstaad, Switzerland during testing. Also attending was former Ferrari president and current chairman of the airline Alitalia, Luca di Montezemolo.

No other teams attended.

The news comes on the day of a key meeting between the teams, Liberty Media and the FIA where there try to resolve the future direction of the sport. News on is not expected the meeting until very late on Tuesday or on Wednesday morning.

The threat of a rival, breakaway series could give the teams leverage in their negotiations with Liberty Media. However, Ecclestone, who saw off several such threats during his time in charge of the sport, told RaceFans “I don’t think it would ever happen”.

“I can’t see they’d get everyone to agree. They’d need to get all the promoters to agree, everyone to agree. The trouble with all these things are people sit around and talk and talk and talk. But when it comes to pulling the trigger there’s a big list of missing people.”

A Racing Point spokesperson said: “There was a meeting of old friends for dinner in Gstaad. These suggestions of a breakaway series are nonsense.

 

Bahrain is one of the more controversial races on the calendar, human rights abuses have been common since the government’s crackdown on dissent since the Arab Spring began in 2011.  But will the sport listen this time to human rights campgainers?

Human rights groups urge F1 to take a stance

Human rights groups have called on F1 and the FIA to seek the immediate release of a jailed female activist and blogger ahead of this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), along with others have sent a letter to Jean Todt and Formula One’s general counsel Sacha Woodward-Hill.

They called on the governing body a high-level delegation to visit Najah Yusuf, a mother of four now serving a three-year sentence, and jailed reporter Ahmed Humaidan. The race has become a controversial, since the governments clamp down on protesters since the so-called Arab Spring reached the Gulf kingdom in 2011.

Writing on the Guardian website Wednesday, under the headline “every moment I spend in prison in Bahrain stains the reputation of F1”, she accused Bahrain’s ruling family of using the race to “whitewash its disregard for human rights.”

She added “During this period, Formula One has consistently ignored the abuses that occur. The Bahrain authorities have said Yusuf’s conviction was unrelated to the grand prix.”

The Bahrain authorities have said Yusuf’s conviction was unrelated to the grand prix.

 

That’s all from Reporters for this week, goodbye 

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Jack Fielding
Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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