F1 Business Diary 2018: The Italian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton claims Italian Grand Prix victory after early collision with Sebastian Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton won a thrilling Italian Grand Prix at Monza, seeing off competition from home favourites Ferrari in an action-packed race.

Hamilton locked horns with both Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferraris, but despite the Italian car going faster in qualifying it was the Mercedes driver who came out on top to claim a vital victory.

Vettel suffered a controversial blow on the first lap of a race that Ferrari had been tipped to win. After attempting to stave off an overtake attempt from his British rival, he spun on the track, with his wing mirror breaking in the process.

It was not deemed worthy of further action by the stewards, leaving Raikkonen to battle Hamilton at the front of the race. The Finnish veteran held off the championship leader until Mercedes’ strategy to delay Hamilton’s pit stop until eight laps after Raikkonen’s paid off.

With just nine laps remaining, the extra pace saw Hamilton pass the Ferrari, driving to one of the most important wins of an already glittering career. Now 30 points clear of Vettel – more than a clear victory, he has found daylight with just seven races remaining of the 2018 season.

Force India defend payments deal amid Haas dispute

Otmar Szafnauer, the chief operating officer and team principal of Racing Point Force India, has accused Haas team principal Guenther Steiner of being confused about the terms of Force India’s resurrection under Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.

Steiner’s Haas team claim that they only agreed to allow Force India to keep all its prize money it was entitled to from the past two seasons on the condition that the team remained both a functional business and the same company following its takeover. The roots of the debate appear to lie in semantics, and whether Force India has remained an operating business through its takeover.

According to the Concorde Agreement, teams that enter insolvency can no longer keep their payments unless unanimous agreement from all other teams. Force India – prior to Stroll’s buyout – entered administration, which technically falls under insolvency.

It was agreed by the other nine Formula One teams that Force India could keep their prize money if they came out of administration under new ownership.

However, this has been further complicated by the terms of the deal that saw Force India become Racing Point Force India – with the team renamed, owned by a new company and taken on by the FIA a brand new entity.

As a result, Haas – who themselves had to compete for two years before receiving full prize money – have raised the question of whether Racing Point Force India should constitute a new team entirely, and therefore not be entitled to the prize money.

Szafnauer, however, disputes Steiner’s arguments, highlighting that Haas originally agreed to sign off the payments.

He said: “As far as I know it I think everyone has agreed to allow the prize money that was earned by the old Force India to continue to be paid to the new Force India.

“If you look at the definition of a going concern, I think we're a going concern. In the piece of paper that he signed, if I remember right, it says ‘going concern’.

“He may be confused, I don't know, thinking that we're not a going concern. But we are.

“I think the argument is one of detail. Is it an asset sale or is it a share sale? It's just semantics. Are we not the same team? This is like deja vu all over again.”

The two Racing Point Force India cars finished sixth and seventh at Monza, taking home 14 points in the process.

Pirelli face rival bid for Formula One tyre contract

FIA president Jean Todt has admitted that Pirelli will face competition from at least one other tyre company for the 2020 to 2023 Formula One contract.

After Michelin confirmed on Friday that the business would not be submitting a bid, sources have suggested that South Korean firm Hankook would be likely to rival Pirelli.

Hankook already acts as the FIA’s supplier for the Formula Three European Championship, while also providing the tyres for the DTM series since 2011.

Todt said: “The ending of the tender was last night at midnight. I don’t have the result yet of who has been applying for the tender.

“I know it’s more than one, that I know. I knew since a while now, before August, that Michelin was not going to compete for the tender.”

Within the next fortnight, the FIA will analyse all proposals for the eligibility of each bid, before handing over to Formula One, who will consider the commercial elements of each company.

Japanese and German GPs confirmed as 2019 calendar is announced

Formula One has released its draft calendar for 2019, with the three-year renewal of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka perhaps the most notable announcement.

Suzuka, which has hosted the Japanese Grand Prix since 2009, retains the race while Japanese carmaker Honda has been named as its new title sponsor, starting from this year’s meeting in October.

Other announcements made within the release include the confirmation that the German Grand Prix is back for 2019, once again being staged at the Hockenheim-Ring and with Mercedes becoming the new title sponsor – ending speculation over the event’s future.

The race was not held in 2015 or 2017 after the Nurburgring’s financial issues left it unable to host it while sharing the event alternately with the Hockenheim circuit.

The motorsport series’ managing director Sean Bratches added: “The renewal of the Japanese Grand Prix and the confirmation of the German Grand Prix are both examples of our direction to place fans at the heart of Formula One, a vision shared with all our promoters.”

With the Belgian Grand Prix also agreeing a renewal deal in the summer, the proposed calendar will feature a record 21 races with the season concluding in Abu Dhabi – finishing in December for the first time since 1963.

Formula One also announced that the Chinese Grand Prix will have the honour of hosting its 1,000th race, which takes place on 14th April.

Lewis Hamilton claimed victory in the 2018 edition of the Hockenheim race.

2019 schedule raises prospect of Nascar clash at US Grand Prix

The provisional Formula One calendar for the 2019 season has thrown up a potential problem for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA).

Scheduled for 1st to 3rd November, the Texas race is set to clash with the AAA Texas 500 Nascar Cup playoff event at the Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) on the same weekend, with the races themselves taking place on the same Sunday.

The current date for the COTA race sees the traditional scheduling of the races altered. The Mexican Grand Prix has always taken place first, followed by the Texas edition.

Eddie Gossage, TMS president, criticised the organisers, saying: “Shame on Formula One for doing this to the fans.”

COTA chairman Bobby Epstein also said that he would rather keep the race in October, avoiding any clash. He added: “I’d prefer to be an October rather than November event. When I learned of the date, I called Eddie and told him I respect what they are doing and that we don’t set the calendar here. It’s an unfortunate overlap.”

The preliminary calendar is still subject to approval from the FIA World Motor Sport Council, with Epstein stressing that the local authorities of individual Grand Prix races have very little role in the competition calendar.

The AAA Texas 500 Nascar Cup playoff event at the Texas Motor Speedway is due to take place on the same weekend as the United States Grand Prix.


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