F1 Business Diary 2018: The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton wins in fitting season finale as retiring Fernando Alonso waves farewell.

Lewis Hamilton won the final race of the Formula One season, easing to victory in Abu Dhabi as he signed off his fifth title-winning season with a fitting result.

The Mercedes driver was rarely troubled as he claimed his 11th win of the year in what was little more than a dead rubber, with the British icon having wrapped up the drivers’ championship at the Mexican Grand Prix.

However, the day belonged to McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, with the Spanish racing legend retiring from Formula One following the race. The Spaniard – a double world champion in 2005 and 2006 – has enjoyed a less than fruitful season with the British team, finishing 11th in the individual stakes, having suffered a number of engine issues along the way.

The former Minardi, Renault and Ferrari star ends his career with 1,899 points to go with his 32 race wins, leaving him sixth on the all-time list. His final victory came at his home Grand Prix in Barcelona back in 2013.

Elsewhere, Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg was fortunate to emerge from a dramatic crash, which briefly left his car in flames and upside down. He was able to clamber out unhurt after the fire was extinguished.

The result means that, ultimately, Hamilton cruised to a fifth world title, finishing 88 points clear of nearest rival Sebastian Vettel, with Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas the only one of the top six drivers in the end-of-season standings to finish without a win.

Toro Rosso team boss calls for South Africa race

Formula One owner Liberty Media is continuing its focus on expanding the racing series’ global calendar, according to a report from UK business outlet the Financial Times.

Liberty is targeting a four-race increase – from 21 to 25, having already announced confirmation of a race in Vietnam from 2020.

A desire to organise a street race in Miami has been shelved, while a further plan to take a race to Copenhagen has also been abandoned.

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost is also quoted as telling The Financial Times: “We should organise a race in South Africa, Argentina and India, and a second event in America — all pivotal markets for our commercial partners.”

In 2015, former Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone previously set out his desire to take the competition to South Africa.

Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost is in favour of expanding the Formula One schedule into both South Africa and Argentina.

Pirelli lands Formula One tyre contract until 2023

The Formula One motorsport series has extended its global tyre supply deal with Pirelli for four years until 2023.

The new contract, which kicks in at the start of the 2020 season, ends several months of speculation over whether the Milan-based company would choose to renew its deal ahead of the new technical regulations expected for 2021.

Korea’s Hankook was also reportedly interested in becoming Formula One’s sole tyre partner.

Pirelli’s new deal, which was agreed in conjunction with the International Automobile Federation (FIA), includes a commitment to switch from 13 to 18-inch wheels from 2021, requiring lower-profile tyres more in line with those used on road cars.

The extension will take Pirelli’s relationship with Formula One up to at least 13 years after it returned to replace Bridgestone in 2011.

“Formula One is and will remain the pinnacle of motorised competition: the perfect environment for Pirelli, which has always defined motorsport as its most advanced technological research and development laboratory,” said Pirelli vice president and chief executive Marco Tronchetti Provera.

Verstappen effect could see return of Dutch Grand Prix

Formula One’s commercial managing director Sean Bratches has hinted that Libery Media is keen to bring back the Dutch Grand Ptix as a result of the renewed enthusiasm in the Netherlands created by the form of Max Verstappen.

Bratches said of the prospects of returning to the Zandvoort circuit, where the most recent Dutch Grand Prix was held in 1985: “We are very interested in racing in Holland.

“We are having productive conversations there and I am cautiously optimistic we can do something to surprise and delight fans in that territory and take advantage of the ‘Max factor’.”

Max Verstappen, 21, won twice during the 2018 season.


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