Hello and welcome back to the weekly news roundup, apologies for being ‘off air’ because of the technical issues for three months. One question remains during this summer break, can Red Bull be beaten having won every race in 2023 Max Verstappen looks on course for his third title. Meanwhile, behind the battle for second and the midfield remains tight, but the other question is Aston Martin, have they slipped back or has Mercedes and Ferrari just caught up and overtaken?
The cancellation of the Emilia Romagna GP has hurt F1’s financial numbers for the second quarter of 2023. While results for 2023 is expected to be higher thanks to the more lucrative Las Vegas race in effect replacing the French GP.
The cancellation of Shanghai and Imola meant only six of the eight original scheduled races were held. As a result, F1’s revenue for the second quarter dropped from $744m in 2022 to $724m, with a drop of $10m in primary revenue (race fees, media rights and sponsorship and another $10m lost in other revenue streams.
The payments to the ten teams for the period similarly fell from $368m to $344m, while after those and other costs were taken into account F1 profits increased slightly from $49m to $52m. Despite there only being six rather than seven races, due to increased contractual fees across the other events.
Liberty noted: “Primary F1 revenue decreased in the second quarter with growth across race promotion and sponsorship offset by a decline in media rights revenue. Despite one less race held in the current period, race promotion revenue grew due to contractual increases in fees, and sponsorship revenue increased due to recognition of revenue from new sponsors and growth in revenue from existing sponsors.
“Media rights revenue decreased due to the impact of lower proportionate recognition of season-based income, partially offset by continued growth in F1 TV subscription revenue and increased fees under new and renewed contractual agreements.”
It noted that “significantly lower freight costs were offset by increased hospitality costs associated with servicing higher Paddock Club attendance and cost inflation and higher commissions and partner servicing costs associated with growth in primary F1 revenue streams.”
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem says it his dream is to see an American and a Chinese works team in Formula 1 in the near future. The governing body is currently looking at the potential bids to enter the sport in 2025 or 2025, and the Emeriti believes entries from the world’s two largest economies would be great for F1.
We know that the US is seeing record growth and F1 has never been more popular in the states, and before Covid there were suggestions to grow and even add more races in China. Ben Sulayem said, “My dream is a full United States of America team from an OEM and I would like to also see an OEM from China.
“Everybody is allowed to have a dream. But it is also achievable. You have 1.4 billion people in China, and over 50% of your vehicles on the road, electric vehicles, are Chinese. That’s facts. It is a big market.”
He says that the Chinese “are serious when it comes to EV and hybrid.” Apart from the race and sponsorship China has not yet had any major involvement from one of its manufacturers in F1.
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali expressed some scepticism about the benefit of adding more cars to the grid. But Ben Sulayem thinks it is the FIA’s duty to attract as many teams as the rules allow, and he believes that F1 owner Liberty Media, and its president Greg Maffei, are on his side.
Junior driver and F2 title contender Frederik Vesti has been given the nod to take over George Russell’s car in FP1 in Mexico City. As we know each driver is required to miss one practice session where they must be replaced by a junior driver who has started less than two Grand Prix starts.
The Estonian said “I’m incredibly proud to be doing the FP1 session in Mexico City with the team, it’s a dream come true. To think in less than two months that I’ll be doing my first official Formula 1 session with Mercedes, who have won eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships, is amazing.”
This will be his second outing for Mercedes he took part in the Abu Dhabi test in November aNd he also does simulator work for the team. He is currently second in the drivers twelve points behind Theo Pourhaire with three rounds to go until the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
However, crashed on his lap to the grid and failed to stat the feature race on Sunday at the Belgian Grand Prix.
CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says that Lewis Hamilton’s future post-F1 is not part of the negotiations to extend the seven-time champions contract. For months its been said by Hamilton, that the lawyers on both sides were ‘clarifying the final elements.’
However, this has dragged on for month and that has led to speculation that there are aspects of the deal that have not been easy to resolve. One issue that has cropped up recently is the suggestion about Hamilton wanting to finalise some kind of ambassadorial role with Mercedes for his life after retirement. That’s been dismissed by Wolff, who says “We’re not talking about an ambassadorial role post his retirement, nor is that part of the contract negotiations.”
In 2021-22, it took until the middle of the winter as well as the aftermath of the Abu Dhabi GP title deciding controversy for Hamilton to commit, but the current status of the negotiations is said to be just about “trivial things” and “cleaning up” things.
Speaking at the Hungarian GP, Hamilton said that progress towards getting the contract signed was now totally out of his hands. Wolff himself has backed up that viewpoint by saying that the involvement of lawyers at this stage meant it was impossible to state when things would be completed by.
Mercedes thinks Red Bull has opened up “another advantage” off the back of its recent Hungary upgrade. Just as it appeared that the field was closing up, Red Bull won at Spa by over half a minute, putting it back on a par with where it started the season.
Wolff said that the current domination of F1 by Verstappen was different to when his German manufacturer squad was in front, but that did not make his team’s job any easier in recovering.
he said, “I don’t know whether our dominance was similar or less as I think we had years where we did it in the same way, but at least we had two cars that were fighting each other. So that caused a little bit of entertainment for everyone, and that’s not the case at the moment.
“It is what it is and I often say that it’s a meritocracy and it’s up to us to fight back. Did we expect that gap? Certainly not. I think with the last step of upgrade, it seems they have another advantage that they that were able to exploit.”
Red Bull has already won all twelve races this season, passing the record for the most consecutive wins by a single team. But its been playing down that but motorsport advisor Helmut Marko has now admitted it could be possible to achieve.
Former F1 driver turned commentator Karun Chandhok has described the relationship between Max Verstappen and race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase are “like siblings”. Last weekend at Spa, the Dutchman took his eighth consecutive Grand Prix win but it wasn’t without some friction.
In Friday’s Qualifying, Verstappen was not happy to scrape into Q3 as he made it clear the team went against his run plan. The Dutchman apologised for his rant when he took pole position and Lambiase half-joked “slowly getting used to it” In the Grand Prix itself on Sunday, Verstappen was told to “use his head a bit more” by Lambiase after setting a very quick out lap on his way to Red Bull’s 13th straight win.
Sky commentator David Croft, says “They are the best combination for each other, that they could possibly have. GP [Lambiase] is vastly experienced, he’s been around the sport a long, long time.”
“He takes no nonsense from Max but understands there will be times his driver gets a bit hot-headed, isn’t in full control of the facts, would like to make the decisions himself and will get a little bit irate when it’s not quite what he envisaged.”
Whenever I have heard messages from Verstappen when he seems to be agitated Lambiase appears to be able to calm him down and they appear to work well as well as having huge amounts of respect. I think they are bound to have their disagreements and in the heat of the moment but that’s because of the adenine and drama of a Grand Prix things can boil over.
As we often say to remind ourselves F1 is a team sport and while all the glory goes with the driver’s champion, but they couldn’t be champion with the team.
Charles Leclerc says despite Ferrari’s strong performance at Spa its too early to say whether the team has addressed the tyre degradation problems. After two difficult weekends in Britain and Hungary, it was the Italian team’s first podium since the Monegasque driver took second in Austria.
Leclerc suggested that there were signs of improved tyre degradation even in races where the team had poor results, but he remains cautious about the bigger picture. This season the Ferrari has been hard on its tyres and that has in some races made them vulnerable to Mercedes in recent races.
The Monacan said, “I think it’s a bit too early to say but it’s been two or three races where we are managing our tyres better. I think today, this was definitely not the reason why we finished so far behind the Red Bulls, I think they were just quicker.
“But in terms of tyre management, we didn’t have a huge degradation. And also looking at Mercedes behind, I was in control of the pace of my tyres.” You didn’t really hear during the race the driver’s complaint about tyre deg, and Leclerc says their strategy during the race was about matching Mercedes then reaching to Red Bull.
Ferrari has updated its growth forecast to up to €22bn for 2023 after posting better than expected pre-tax profits in Q2. The upgrade was supported in particular by better-than-expected results in personalisations, Chief Executive Benedetto Vigna said in a statement, as well as by a strong product mix.
The company now expects 2023 revenue of about 5.8 billion euros ($6.4 billion) and per-share profit of between 6.25 euros and 6.40 euros. however, car sales were slightly down compared to last year due to “geographic and mix allocation plans.”
Team principal Fred Vasseur says the push for an extra capital expenditure allowance for teams will become a ‘non-stop process’ if the idea is approved. His Williams counterpart James Vowles has led the quest for extra leeway on investment spending within the cost cap restrictions in order to allow the Grove outfit to update its outdated factory infrastructure.
But last week’s commission meeting looked at the idea to give the FIA power to consider such requests on a case-by-case basis, rather than giving all the teams the same extra allowance. While it rejected a blanket increase for all teams. In my view, we are still learning the impacts of the cap, but you don’t want to overcomplicate things.
A possible solution would be keeping the current cap and then creating say five to ten year separate cap for teams to spend on infrastructure as Vassuer pointed out it could create this situation where teams will push for more and more. In effect, in my view, it would render a cap useless.
Vassuer added, “my point of view, but my point of view is that we have a regulation. We’ve changed many times the regulations. And for me, the good shape of F1 today is due to stability. If you start to change the regulation each week because someone has an issue, or wants to invest somewhere, it’s the end of the stability. And it’s a non-end process.”
“Because today it’s Williams who want to have a new ERP [enterprise resource planning] system. Tomorrow, it will be another one who wants to buy new trucks, or someone would like to have the last version of the simulator.
Speaking on the other issue, Renault’s attempt to get a break on power unit performance development a step towards equalisation. This was another matter discussed, without a resolution, at the F1 Commission.
he said, “It’s true that when we decided to freeze the engine we considered that in exceptional circumstances we could try to find a way to support the guys who would be completely out of the range,”
Lando Norris has admitted leaving McLaren has been “in the back” of his mind but says a recent upturn in form has left him “confident” of winning a world championships with the team. In 2022 the Englishman signed a contract with the team until 2025.
However the dip in form as well as the difficult start to the season, as well as Norris being seen as one of the best younger drivers in the sport and that made him a hot property. But the upgrades introduced in Spielberg saw him take back-to-back second places in July.
Asked whether he agrees with McLaren chief executive Zak Brown’s belief that the MCL60’s newfound speed would convince Norris to “stick around”, he told Sky Sports F1: “Of course. I want to win races with McLaren. I want to win in papaya, I want to win championships. I want to achieve my success and I want to achieve my goals with McLaren. That’s been my target since I’ve come here since I’ve entered Formula 1 with this team.”
Norris described himself as a “loyal guy” but the question is will that loyalty eventually pay off by fighting for championships saying looking back when he retires in two decades it will be a “cool stories.”
Asked whether McLaren’s July performances had confirmed they will be in podium contention for the remainder of the season, Norris said: “I want to give a straight answer, yes. There’s definitely going to be some races that we’re going to struggle a lot more.
Cyril Abiteboul thinks his former Alpine’s hundred race plan to compete for titles is flawed amid the dismissal of his successor Otmar Szafnauer. The build up to last weekend’s race was dominated by registrations and sackings, three of the most senior people CEO and team principal Szafnauer, brand CEO Laurent Rossi and sporting director Alan Permane were all dismissed.
This move was explained by incoming interim team principal Bruno Famin as Szafnauer “not being on the same timeline” as Alpine on how fast its march to the front of the F1 grid is progressing amid a disappointing 2023 season. Despite it not being midway through a five-year or 100-race plan to fight for the world championship.
Abiteboul told French media, “The plan to quantify 100 grands prix… why not 120, why not 80? I don’t understand it. When you start putting forward a plan like that, you’re sure to get it wrong because you don’t know what others are doing in Formula 1.”
“Aston Martin’s colossal investments, Red Bull’s incredible momentum, none of that is going to stop just because Laurent Rossi’s 99th grand prix came along.” I think this is too unsettling for Alpine as the last three years have seen several changes in leadership.
Put simply by Abiteboul “When you lose 15 people and you hire, it takes two or three years before it takes effect. The reshuffle that Laurent Rossi decided to make, we haven’t even really seen its impact.”
Esteban Ocon has praised the performance of the team last weekend at Spa saying the team made a “quite impressive” and “very noticeable” performance step. Despite targeting fourth in the constructors the step forwards by Aston Martin and the resurgence of McLaren seen the team drop to sixth.
This has lead to a number of sackings over recent weeks but on track Spa appeared to be a step forward with Pierre Gasly second in the sprint while in the Grand Prix, Esteban Ocon went from fourteenth to eighth.
his competitiveness prompted Ocon to say that Alpine had returned to its 2022 streak of bolting on upgrades and gaining an immediate hit rather than having to wait to fully evaluate and correlate the new parts like some other teams.
He said: “It’s very encouraging that each time we bring an update, the car seems to take a step forward. Clearly, I dedicate that [Sunday result] to Viry and Enstone, because it’s really encouraging that what we bring to the track really makes us step forward.”
Alpine will be hoping these upgrades and similar steps, while they were designed for Spa could bring benefits at other circuits. In reviewing the first half of 2023 Ocon said it was wrong to accuse Alpine of lacking consistency. Instead, it had to be accepted that other teams had won the development race.
Red Bull are in talks for Hugo Boss to take over the title sponsorship of the team from 2024. We already know that the team will be rebranded and this change selling the naming rights to the team should allow them to be more financially sustainable in the future.
Since the death of Dietrich Mateschitz the team and the wider Red Bull group have gone a restructure, and have started to align itself more closer with the senior team, Red Bull. The team as put by Helmut Marko a few years ago, ‘are no longer a junior team, rather a sister team.;
the team will consolidate around its UK aerodynamics operation in Bicester and will closely align with Red Bull to lift itself off the foot of the constructors’ championship. I think this could be a start of a recovery despite Red Bull dominating the last eighteen months, Alpha Tauri has been in the lower end of the constructors championship.
I think there is an advantage to making Alpha Tauri a bigger almost like customer of Red Bull, as that gives Red Bull if they were facing a bigger threat from Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin. We know informal alliances of customer teams happen, but they are not without controversy.
Should the deal go through, AlphaTauri will be likely be rebranded as ‘Boss’ – the guise of its Aston backing, which is contracted until 2025 – or ‘Boss Orange’ in deference to the specific clothing line.
AlphaTauri CEO Peter Bayer told Motorsport.com: “We are discussing with several companies who are very interested in working with us in the future but at this time there is no information to be released.”
Fernando Alonso says that at Spa last weekend his car “felt more normal” following two disappointing weekends at Silverstone and in Budapest. In recent races, I have had this feeling that Aston has been slipping away as both Mercedes and McLaren have got closer and found step forward.
On Saturday, he was frustrated after his teammate Lance Stroll brought out the red flag leading to Alonso being knocked out in SQ2 and starting fifteenth before spinning off in the sprint. While in the race Alonso jumped up from ninth to sixth on the first lap, gaining another spot when countryman Carlos Sainz fell back due to accident damage.
when asked by Motorsport.com about his strong form on Sunday, Alonso said, “I think the car felt fast today The guys did an incredible job again on the strategy, also on the pitstops. We made a few places also yesterday, even if we didn’t finish the race. And yeah, I think today the car felt more normal.”
“So we had a few thoughts after Hungary, after Silverstone. So the team was making a few set-up changes also to the car. And I think it paid off today. The car felt more normal, more competitive. So yeah happy, and a good boost for summer.”
Its going to be hard to say if they had a blip in Silverstone and Budapest because yes we have the two week shutdown, but we still know the break still will see teams try to bring upgrades.
Alex Albon says his slick tyres were overheating so much during last weekend’s Belgian GP that he actually found performance when it rained and cooled them down. Spa should have been a circuit with favoured Williams like Silverstone because of its low drag characteristics.
However his focus on saving his tyres, and while struggling to maintain pace through the twisty middle section of the lap, he slipped down the order, eventually finishing fourteenth. Here is what he said “It was a tricky race the whole race, because we’re running that low downforce, which is quite fun in some ways. In other ways, especially when you go through sector two, it’s not that fun anymore.
“And it just degrades the tyres so much. We saw it already on the wet tyres, we predicted a lot of deg for us. But it was a bit of a wake-up call just how much deg we did have, particularly on that medium tyre.” Albon described it as a “vicious cycle,” feeling as other drivers were “up my gearbox”.
Albon noted that he was actually helped when it rained for several laps in the middle of the race, and drivers either stayed with the dry tyres they had, or pitted for fresh softs.
Team principal James Vowles hopes that signing the experienced Alpine chief technical officer Pat Fry shows the team is serious about implementing “a culture of change”. Following Fry’s departure from Alpine along with several other senior personnel last week as prompted questions about the French manufacturer’s target challenge for titles.
When asked by Motorsport.com if Fry’s marquee signing can be the catalyst to more high-profile personnel making the jump, Vowles replied: “In part. But I hope that for a start, when people saw that I left the comfort of Mercedes to go to Williams and now people have seen Pat, at a time where Alpine was in a strong place, people will now understand that Williams wants a culture of change.
“So, it’s not specifically that. It’s more that once you see two very senior people that have been in the sport for 20 plus years and winning races and we want to come here, others will now see why it’s worth that journey.”
I think that Vowels revelation that he quickly identified the former Benetton, McLaren and Ferrari stalwart as a key figure in implementing a new technical structure at the team, before his departure from Alpine.
Williams’s next major hurdle is to appoint a new technical director reporting to Fry, but while Vowles has identified “several” potential candidates for the vacancy, he said, “there’s nothing to talk about at the moment”.