F1 Business Diary 2018: The Austrian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton loses championship lead on bad day for Mercedes as German Grand Prix drops off 2019 calendar.

F1 Business Diary 2018: The Austrian Grand Prix

The Austrian Grand Prix proved to be a disaster for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton as the Britain lost his Formula One world championship lead in a race he did not finish.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was the benefactor at the Red Bull Ring, the 20-year-old German winning his first race of the season, and the fourth of his young career. 

Hamilton’s chief rival, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, did not make the most of the Mercedes’ driver having to retire eight laps from the finish, with the German coming in behind teammate Kimi Räikkönen to secure third. However, the 15 points gained by Vettel saw him re-take the lead in the driver’s standings.

Hamilton’s day was punctuated by problems. For the third time this season, Mercedes were caught out by rivals during some form of safety car period with their then-race leader the only leading car not to pit for fresh tyres under a virtual safety car on lap 15. Reliability issues then struck for the Mercedes, with a loss of fuel pressure in Hamilton’s car ending his record run of 33 consecutive scoring finishes.

Bratches ‘frustrated’ by loss of German Grand Prix in 2019

Following a failure to agree terms between the German Grand Prix's promoters and Formula One owners Liberty Media the event will not return in 2019 for a race at either Hockenheim or 2013 venue, the Nürburgring. 

Georg Seiler, German Grand Prix managing director, revealed last week that it had not been possible to reach a beneficial commercial deal with Liberty and as a result the German race will be missing from next season’s calendar, as was the case in 2015 and 2017.

The popular German Grand Prix will not feature on 2019 F1 calendar

Formula 1's commercial boss Sean Bratches voiced his disappointment at the development.

"It's frustrating that we could not reach a solution for a country with such a huge racing tradition, with the reigning constructor world champion and with a four-time champion, and that apparently nobody was willing to support the race tracks and take away the financial risk", he said.

The event's absence from the 2019 calendar does not denote an impossibility of its returning in the future, with Bratches confirming that he was working on a solution.

"For the next few years, of course we will keep working on a solution," he said.

2019 season starts earlier

The 2019 season-opening Australian Grand Prix will start 14th March, a week earlier than usual, with the opening round of the Australian Football League (AFL) season thought to be the primary reason behind the move.

Andrew Westacott, Australian Grand Prix chief executive, hopes that the date change and the early announcement thereof will encourage visitors, domestic and international alike, to plan a visit to Melbourne.

"The start of an F1 season, our Aussie superstar Daniel Ricciardo, a Supercars championship round and so much off-track action - it's a must-attend event in 2019," he said.

Sauber rules out mid-season Ferrari-Leclerc swap

While it is widely believed that Charles Leclerc will replace Kimi Räikkönen behind the wheel for Ferrari next season, their junior team Sauber have said it highly unlikely that this switch will take place during the 2018 campaign.

When asked about whether or not it would make sense to swap drivers before the season ends, Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur said: "No. I think it's better to finish the season and to have a normal approach and speed of the process. It's not easy."

Sauber driver Charles Leclerc is set to race for Ferrari next season

Williams lands first pick in 2018 F1 esports Draft

Williams Esports will get the first pick in the 2018 F1 Esports Pro Draft, the second annual edition of the event.
Following a draw in London last week, Hype Energy Eforce India will follow Williams, with Haas F1 Esports going third. 

Over three rounds the nine official Formula One teams will pick from the 40 racers that qualified for this year’s edition of the esport series. The first and third round will be taken in order of the draw , with the second round in reverse order.

Before taking their place in the three-round championship taking place later this year, the drafted gamers will be put through their paces in a ‘boot camp’ session with interviews, assessments and tasks set by the teams at Silverstone ahead of the British Grand Prix.