Latest F1 news in brief – Thursday

  • F1 track dispute is just the typical off-season F1 puffery
    F1 track dispute is just the typical off-season F1 puffery

    F1 tracks eye end to Liberty dispute

  • Hartley says F1 exit rumors started at Monaco
  • New Monza F1 deal still 'far away'
  • Lauda to be back in shape 'soon' – son
  • 2019 champion team 'up in the air' – Wolff
  • Sainz Jr. 'excited' to test 2019 McLaren car
  • 'Everything ok' with new Haas sponsor – boss
  • Pirelli design new rain tires for 2019
  • Ryanair takes 100 percent of Austrian airline Laudamotion
  • Ecclestone: I don't want to see the sport I created go downhill

F1 tracks eye end to Liberty dispute

The boss of a big group of current F1 race promoters says he is confident their dispute with Liberty Media will be resolved.

Led by Silverstone's Stuart Pringle, the group of 16 circuits this week warned that they could pull out of the sport if concerns about the Liberty reign are not addressed.

The group, calling itself the Formula One Promoters' Association and believed to be most concerned about the race fees paid to Liberty, has now met with the F1 owner.

One source said that at the meeting, F1 chief executive Chase Carey seemed "wounded".

"There is every indication the message has been received," Pringle told the BBC.

"We were frustrated that we felt we had no option but to take this sort of action. But actually we have had a very positive day."

Hartley says F1 exit rumors started at Monaco

Hartley knew his days were numbered early
Hartley knew his days were numbered early

Brendon Hartley says it was clear as far back as last year's Monaco grand prix that Red Bull would oust him.

The New Zealander was a surprise draft into the junior team Toro Rosso's lineup following the ousting in late 2017 of Daniil Kvyat.

But Kvyat is back for 2019, and the Russian's teammate will be rookie Alexander Albon.

Hartley's departure wasn't announced until the season finale in Abu Dhabi, but the 29-year-old said he started to hear rumors around the time of May's Monaco GP.

"When I look back now, what I will remember most is walking down to the paddock to meet with the media on the Wednesday and receiving a bunch of questions about my future," he told media platform The Players' Tribune.

"Here I am, a handful of races into my F1 career, and I'm being asked about the end."

Hartley said he soon discovered there was "some truth" to the rumors, which ultimately led to him losing his seat for 2019.

"After a few races, there were some people, it appeared, who didn't want me there," he said. "I'll be honest, this was a bit of a shock.

"That's life in F1, though. The sport has so much money and so many people involved, it's only natural that there are politics."

The Le Mans winner and WEC champion admits he will "miss" F1 this year, but he also said he is "excited" about his next steps.

"As I write this I am working to put all the pieces into place for 2019 and beyond. I'm fortunate to have a few options in front of me, but I need make sure it's a fit," Hartley added.

New Monza F1 deal still 'far away'


Italian GP boss Angelo Sticchi Damiani says a new F1 race deal for the historic Monza circuit is still "far away".

Monza is among the 16 circuits that is threatening to quit the sport over a dispute with Liberty Media.

It is particularly relevant for the Italian GP host, as its existing Liberty deal is expiring.

"A renewal is far away but we are confident that a solution can be found in everyone's interests," Sticchi Damiani, boss of the automobile club Aci, told Corriere della Sera.

"As Monza is keen to host F1, so too is it important for F1 to have Monza," he added.

Sticchi Damiani admitted that the main problem is the amount of money being demanded by Liberty.

"For the 2019 edition we will pay $24 million — a very high price," he said.

"We want to continue, but only in an economically sustainable framework. We cannot put the Aci's budgets at risk."

Lauda to be back in shape 'soon' – son

Lauda - back for Melbourne?
Lauda – back for Melbourne?

Niki Lauda will be back in action "soon".

That is the claim of the F1 legend's son, 37-year-old Mathias Lauda.

"Dad underwent a complex operation and has had bad moments, but he has a strong character and is fighting," Lauda told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

69-year-old Niki Lauda, the Mercedes team chairman, has finally returned home following surgery and rehabilitation for a lung transplant.

Niki's latest setback was a further hospitalization for influenza.

"He needs to do physiotherapy to recover his energies. He is training furiously and I hope that soon we will see him in shape," Mathias said.

Mathias Lauda drives for Aston Martin in the world endurance championship.

2019 champion team 'up in the air' – Wolff

Someone should tell Wolff - the 2019 Champions will again drive an Aldo Costa designed car
Someone should tell Wolff – the 2019 Champion will again drive an Aldo Costa designed car

Toto Wolff says the identity of this year's world champion team is very much "up in the air".

Wolff leads the Mercedes team, which has won every world championship since the start of the 'power unit' era in 2014.

The 2019 silver car will undergo its first "shakedown" test behind closed doors at Silverstone on February 13.

Mercedes finished ahead of Ferrari in 2018, followed by Red Bull.

"With the new regulations, it's up in the air if somebody else could be competitive, but we very much embrace the challenge, we enjoy the fight," said Wolff. "It's why we're here."

Sainz Jr. 'excited' to test 2019 McLaren car

Junior can't wait to test
Junior can't wait to test

Carlos Sainz Jr. is "very excited" to get up and running in McLaren's 2019 car.

The Spanish driver has moved from the Renault works team to the once-great McLaren team, which struggled throughout Fernando Alonso's final years in F1 since 2015.

"Carlos is very excited, very eager to start the tests here in Barcelona," Sainz's father Carlos Sainz, a world rally legend, told El Mundo Deportivo.

"From there it will be known more or less if McLaren has done its homework well, whether Renault has done its homework well and the engine goes a little better, and if the chassis is better than it was last year with Fernando," Sainz snr added.

"I think that by the time the Barcelona tests are over, they will know fairly well where they are."

Sainz, 56, confirmed that his 24-year-old son has moved close to McLaren's Woking HQ.

He said it is impossible for McLaren to set targets before the competitiveness of the new car is known.

"Everything depends on the car," said Sainz snr. "You cannot talk about results without knowing that.

"Maybe he'll do 11th or 13th places like Fernando did last year, or maybe it will be points and it's a super result," he added.

"But I see a Carlos who is very motivated, very excited and eager to start."

Sainz snr was also asked if Carlos is ready to cope with being Spain's only F1 driver, following Alonso's retirement.

"He never felt badly treated, because when there is someone of Fernando's caliber, it's normal. It's normal to be in the shadow of an institution of motor sport.

"But now that will be different and he is eager to take that on," Sainz snr added.

Finally, he tipped Alonso – the new Daytona 24 hour winner – to do well this year when he tackles the Indy 500 and Le Mans again.

"When someone is as gifted as Fernando, it is clear that wherever he goes he will do well, be it Le Mans, Daytona or anywhere else," said Sainz snr.

"I think he demonstrates that every time he gets in any car."

'Everything ok' with new Haas sponsor – boss

Haas will have another new sponsor in 2019 - Rich Energy
Haas will have another new sponsor in 2019 – Rich Energy

Haas is not worried about any skepticism surrounding the American team's new title sponsor.

Last October, it was announced that Haas will change its livery for 2019 after signing a deal with British energy drink Rich Energy.

However, little is known about Rich Energy, and its long-bearded boss William Storey.

"I've heard the stories about Rich as well, but everything is ok," Haas team boss Gunther Steiner told BT newspaper.

"We have already received money and they have become our title sponsor."

BT newspaper said Haas' 2019 car will be painted in Rich's black and gold colors.

Pirelli design new F1 rain tires for 2019

Pirelli Intermediate tires
Pirelli Intermediate tires

Pirelli will supply a new design of rain tires to F1 teams in 2019.

It was already known that the Italian supplier has tweaked its dry compounds for the new season, and simplified the coloring process for the fans.

But Auto Bild reports that Pirelli has also made new rain and intermediate tires for 2019, specifically to reduce the risk of aquaplaning.

"Especially since the wider tires have been used since 2017, the problem has worsened," the German publication said.

"Pirelli wants to remedy that now. Additionally, the working window of the intermediates is now larger, which is intended to increase the overlap between dry and rain tires and therefore boost the tactical variations," Auto Bild added.

Ryanair takes 100 percent of Austrian airline Laudamotion

One of Lauda's planes
One of Lauda's planes

Budget airline Ryanair has taken full control of Laudamotion, an Austrian-based carrier set up by former Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda.

Laudamotion said Tuesday that Ryanair completed the purchase of 100 percent of the shares in the new airline in late December. It didn’t give financial details. Ryanair had taken an initial 24.9 percent stake in March and later increased that to 75 percent.

The Austria Press Agency reported that Laudamotion CEO Andreas Gruber told a news conference at Vienna Airport that Lauda will continue to provide “input" to the airline after he sold his remaining stake.

Laudamotion said that it will now expand its fleet and recruit more pilots, cabin crew and engineers. It plans to open new routes from its bases in Vienna, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf and Palma.

In early 2018, Lauda took over Amira Air and renamed the company Laudamotion.

Ecclestone: I don't want to see the sport I created go downhill

Bernie Ecclestone
Bernie Ecclestone

We are living an interesting week in Formula 1, as teams prepare furiously for preseason testing for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship, in boardrooms in the corridor of power dissent has emerged among the ranks.

The episode smells of a Bernie Ecclestone caper, thus no surprise then that the deposed F1 supremo has come out and offered to help resolve an issue which might even be of his own making.

Whether a careful media ploy or pure coincidence, a questionable report of Liberty Media looking to sell Formula 1 preceded with what has been a week of sabre rattling by the 16-promoter Formula One Promoters’ Association (FOPA) who are not happy with the way the sport is being run.

Not all promoters are on the bandwagon, but smoke is turning into a fire and Liberty have yet to respond to the criticism which was aired at a meeting between the stakeholders, including F1 chiefs Chase Carey and Ross Brawn, in London on Tuesday.

Daily Mail reports that Carey spoke at the start of the meeting in an attempt to defuse the tensions and offering to work together in an effort to resolve the issues, but other than that, for now, it appears to be a stalemate.

Needless to say, nothing has stopped Ecclestone from lobbing a barb while offering a ‘helping’ hand, “If people say I should be involved that is up to them. I am an employee of the company and will do what I am told."

“If they want me to help, I am willing to do so. I don’t want to lie on my deathbed and see the sport I created go downhill," the 88-year old told the Daily Mail.

Which prompts the question: Why would promoters trust Ecclestone again?

When, not long ago he openly admitted, “I charged them too much for what we provided so I feel a bit responsible. So when they ask me things I try and help them." grandprix247

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