F1 Today – 23/09/2020

Blog News & Analysis

Domenicali set to be next F1 CEO

Former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is to become Formula One’s new chairman and CEO from next year, according to BBC News, Sky Sports and Autosport.

It’s understood that Carey, who is sport’s chairman, will still have some involvement in F1 after the end of the year but will no longer be in day-to-day control. A spokesman for F1 wouldn’t comment on the move, as well as Domenicali himself did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

The move will see the sport headed up for a short time by three former Ferrari personnel. Domenicali took over from current FIA president Jean Todt at the end of 2007, Todt is also announced he will not seek a fourth term as president in 2022.

Domenicali joins Ross Brawn, Ferrari’s former technical director, and F1 motorsport and technical managing director, as the sports two top officials.

The Italian’s appointment means the three senior roles in motorsport, F1 CEO, F1 motorsport managing and technical director, and FIA president will be held by former Ferrari bosses.

Domenicali joined Ferrari from university in 1991 working his way up to team principal in 2007, but resigned after refusing to sack Ferrari’s engine head after the team badly underestimated the requirements of the new turbo-hybrid engine regulations.

Domenicali then took up a senior management role at Audi, before being appointed chief executive of Lamborghini, which is also part of the VW Audi Group.


Brown “surprised” by Racing Point withdrawing appeal

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says he was “surprised” when Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll withdrew his appeal in the row about the similarity of the cars to last years Mercedes, just weeks after vowing to clear his name.

Racing Point was docked fifteen points in the constructors’ championship and fined a €400,000, after being found guilty of using Mercedes-designed brake ducts.

The ruling by the FIA prompted appeals from both the teams who felt the punishment didn’t fit the crime and Racing Point who believed they had broken no rules.

In a strongly-worded video statement at the Spanish Grand Prix, Lawrence Stroll said “I do not often speak publicly, however, I am extremely angry at any suggestion we have been underhand or have cheated.  Particularly those comments coming from our competitors.”

“I have never cheated at anything in my life. These accusations are completely unacceptable and not true. My integrity – and that of my team – are beyond question. Everyone at Racing Point was shocked and disappointed by the FIA ruling and firmly maintain our innocence.”

McLaren has also withdrawn its own appeal, after the FIA agreeing to tighten the rules to prevent anyone copying again to the extent that Racing Point did, said that he thought Stroll would see out the appeal since he felt so strongly about it.

Brown told Motorsport.com, “So big change, they withdrew. That was inconsistent with what he said his intentions were.”

Brown said that he was happy that the FIA reacted in the way it did to promise changes to the regulations in a bid to prevent copying becoming the norm in F1.

Adding “It was very important, and I’m glad to see they addressed it quickly, and they’re taking it seriously. More than anything, you need to know what are the rules? So whatever the rules are, we all play by them.”

He believes that it’s now time to close these loopholes, so we don’t have a repeat in the future. Also that the copying rivals should not be tolerated, prompted some to question why the Woking-based team tested out a Mercedes-style nose at the recent Tuscan Grand Prix.

Asked if he felt it was slightly hypocritical to copy a Mercedes idea, Brown said: “Well one, it is an experimental nose. Two, everything we do at McLaren we design and produce ourselves.”

Adding, “I think everyone’s spoken about how you take inspiration and learn from what other people are doing out there. At the end of the day, it’s a nose, not a car. We had over 10 million drawings of that nose.”


Teams back the idea of ‘rotating calendar’

Formula One team principals have backed the idea of a rotating calendar in the future, so the schedule gets injected with fresh events each year.

The 2020 calendar was ripped up in between March and June after ten races were either cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Then in July and August, revisions added races at Mugello, Nürburgring, Portimao, Imola and Istanbul, which were not on the original calendar.

The first of these at Mugello proved the benefits of F1 visiting new venues, rather than sticking rigidly to the same tracks each year. One idea that has gained traction is for the F1 schedule to be mixed up a bit year-on-year, with some events appearing every few seasons.

There will be some who will want to retain a ‘core’ set of races, like Monaco, Italian, Belgian, United States, French, British which have featured on nearly every calendar since the beginning of the championship. With Italy and British rounds on every season since 1950.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has even put forward the idea of having ‘invitational’ Grands Prix so F1 can have one-off specials.

Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff reckons shaking up the calendar each year would be great for F1.

Asked if calendar rotation was something that should be adopted, he said: “Yes, I think it’s an interesting new concept that was born out of the necessity to have more races in this COVID era, and it’s interesting. You can certainly see more vulnerability.”

“Teams show up with not a lot of knowledge from these tracks, and you can see that performance are very different to a track where we’ve been a lot of times.”

Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says the Mugello example was proof of how new F1 venues are a good thing, and adding these races at the additional venues this year permanently would not work.

Steiner added, “I don’t know if it’s because it was new it was so exciting, or could it be exciting every year. If you were to rotate them, there could be some of that newness every time we do it. I’m completely for that one.”

Steiner says what happened at Mugello has made him really look forward to the Nürburgring, Portimao and Imola.


Hamilton on Time magazines most influential people

Lewis Hamilton has been named on Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.

The Mercedes driver, who is going for his seventh world championship this year, has joined an exclusive list that includes politicians, musicians, activists and sports stars, as the result of his form on track and the efforts he has made to combat racism.

Hamilton has lead Formula One’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as speaking out on climate change and founding his own Extreme E team, he has also been critical of the UK governments handling of Coronavirus.

Time CEO and editor in chief Edward Felsenthal said that this year’s list, which comes amid the coronavirus pandemic and a worldwide anti-racism push, was very different from previous years.

He said, “The TIME 100 has always been a mirror of the world and those who shape it. While you will certainly find people who wield traditional power on this year’s list – heads of state, CEOs, major entertainers­ – it also includes many extraordinary, lesser-known individuals who seized the moment to save lives, build a movement, lift the spirit, repair the world.”

The inclusion of Hamilton is the second time he has been included. For the first time more woman than men were on the list, with more doctors and nurses than ever before.


Little chance of Schumacher recovery, claims neurosurgeon

A leading neurosurgeon Erich Riederer has told Monte Carlo TV that seven times champions Michael Schumacher is thought to be in a vegetative state with little chance of ever fully recovering.

Schumacher suffered serve head injuries in a skiing accident in the resort of Grenoble, in the French Alps in December 2013. Almost seven years later, he has not been seen in public since the accident with few details released about his current state.

Riederer has commented on Schumacher’s condition as an outsider in a documentary on the French television station TMC.

In an interview, he said: “’I think he’s in a vegetative state, which means he’s awake but not responding. He is breathing, his heart is beating, he can probably sit up and take baby steps with help, but no more.”

It is uncertain if Riederer has visited Schumacher himself or what information he is basing his professional opinion on.

Following a recent visit, FIA president Jean Todt said that Schumacher was still fighting to get better under the watchful eye of his family after a recent visit to his home.

He said “I saw Michael last week. He is fighting. My God, we know he had a terrible and unfortunate skiing accident which has caused him a lot of problems. But he has an amazing wife next to him, he has his kids, his nurses, and we can only wish him the best and to wish the family the best too.”


Reverse grid races make drivers look “stupid” – Russell

George Russell has criticised Formula One’s plan to introduce reverse-grid races in the future, saying the proposal would make drivers “look a little bit stupid”.

Following Pierre Gasly’s surprise win at the Italian Grand Prix strengthened the case for introducing reverse-grid sprint races as a replacement for qualifying at some rounds.

Motorsport and technical managing director Ross Brawn had been behind the initial idea that was blocked by teams originally in 2019 and again earlier this year, with the former F1 team boss determined to push through the plan for 2021.

F1 has asked fans whether it should replace qualifying sessions with reverse championship order sprint races at four rounds of the 2021 season, but the results haven’t been announced.

However, several drivers are against the idea, including Russell, who feels drivers towards the front of the reverse grid would get “eaten alive” due to the performance disparity between the teams.

Russell told Crash.net, “I am against it to be honest because the fact is we are in the slowest car on the grid or one of the slowest cars on the grid, and we would just sort of get eaten alive.”

“We would be defending like crazy to try hold off the faster cars that were behind us. But, as drivers, you would be made to look a little bit stupid because ultimately you are battling against guys who are in cars much quicker than yours who can break 10 metres later it into the corner, who can lunge you from really far back.”

However admitted while he saw the benefits for William, it was likely that the top teams would ‘look like heroes’, with teammate Nicolas Latifti says that the proposal would take away from the DNA of the sport.

He added, “In a way it takes away from the DNA of how Formula 1 always is, and just racing in general, that you always have the fastest guy starting in front. The only way I would support it is if it was not the main race.”

“Like in junior championships, in F2 and F3, you have the main feature race and then you have a sprint race. So if you are one of the guys in the reverse grid, it is more of a fun race for you to try and enjoy it. Obviously, you’re still trying to score points.”

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