F1 Canadian GP 2019: Vettel fumes but venue upgrades are a hit

Sean Bratches positive about US progress as ESPN sees viewership growth.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was livid after being stripped of a much-needed win at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

Vettel had started from pole position and crossed the finish line narrowly ahead of the Formula One drivers’ championship leader Lewis Hamilton. However, the German had been given a five-second time penalty for an incident which happened with a little more than 20 laps to go. Despite Vettel taking the checkered flag, that penalty gave the British driver his fifth win of the 2019 season.

Making his way to the the post-race grid, Vettel grabbed the big winner’s number one sign parked in front of Hamilton's Mercedes car and moved it to where his Ferrari should have been in the empty second-place slot, swapping it with his number two sign.

“Obviously I'm angry, as you can imagine,” Vettel said. “I gave everything I had today and more.”

Hamilton now leads teammate Valteri Bottas by 29 points in the driver’s standings with Vettel down in third on 62 points.

Sebastian Vettel was livid after being stripped of a much-needed win at the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix

US$175m budget cap plans revealed

A cost cap of US$175million per year is set to be imposed on Formula One teams from the 2021 season, according to a report from Autosport.

Nigel Kerr, a former Honda, Brawn and Mercedes financial executive, has drawn up the newly created Formula One financial regulations, which will reportedly stand alongside the existing FIA sporting and technical regulations that govern the global motorsport series’ teams.

The figure does not include driver salaries, marketing expenses and any costs associated with engines, but estimates put the big teams’ spending in the areas covered at as much as US$250 million.

The new regulations are designed to increase parity in Formula One and will reportedly be in place for the five seasons from 2021 through 2025, although there is provision for an upward adjustment for inflation, according to Autosport. A dry run is apparently planned for 2020 after which teams will face serious penalties for failing to abide by the regulations.

F1 making strides in “priority” US market

In the build-up to the Canadian Grand Prix, Formula One commercial director Sean Bratches told American motorsports publication Racer that the US is a “priority market” for the series and made several revelations regarding its growth in the territory.

Whilst a second race in the country is yet to be added, with plans for a Miami Grand Prix now idling in the long grass, Bratches claims progress is being made.

The US was not in Formula One’s top five TV markets before Liberty Media acquired the series in 2017 but it is now third. The US is the country with the most subscribers to F1 TV, the series’ over-the-top (OTT service), and is second in terms of visitors to Formula One’s official website.

According to Bratches, ESPN has delivered major increases in television audience compared to previous rights partner NBC Sports, with Netflix’s Drive to Survive documentary and a Twitter Live show that draws around 75 per cent of its audience from the US both factors in that.

“Through Spain our ratings in the United States for both qualifying and the race were up 30 per cent year-on-year, and they were up significantly last year,” Bratches told Racer. “The race itself this year on average are up 49 per cent on 2018, which was up pretty significantly, so every qualifying and every race has attracted a higher audience relative to the equivalent season last year.”

Adding: “I think the Netflix series had a lot to do with it. We’ve had two years now of a global marketing campaign where we’ve put our shoulder behind the United States, with emphasis added there.

“We’re creating topical promos coming out of every Grand Prix, telling the story of what happened and then kind of setting up the next grand prix. ESPN – among others around the world – has been an active user of that content. Wieden and Kennedy our agency of record are producing those, and I think they’re doing a fantastic job.”

Venue upgrades prove a hit

The Circuit Gille Villeneuve spent the best part of US$60 million on upgrading its facilities ahead of the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix, with event promoter François Dumontier claiming the investment – covered by public funding – takes his race to “another level”.

The old paddock has been replaced with a three-storey building featuring larger garages and permanent spaces for the media. Previously, media tents and broadcast booths were located in temporary spaces. The new facility also includes hospitality spaces to accommodate team and corporate guests.

Hamilton said of the upgrades: “It means they’ve made a real investment. It means this track’s going to be here for a long time, as it should be.”

The Circuit Gille Villeneuve spent the best part of US$60 million on upgrading its facilities

Two races to go from 2021 calendar

Formula One chief executive Chase Carey says two current races will not appear on the 2020 calendar.

The series has confirmed deals with two new hosts, Vietnam and Zandvoort, but Carey says he does not want to expand the schedule beyond 21 races.

“I think it's important to have something new in our calendar, but we do not want to mess things up every year,” he told La Presse.

Adding: “As for the number of Grands Prix, we will take our time before increasing that. If we have two new events next season, the number of the events will remain stable.”

Rich Energy request logo change on Haas cars

Haas title sponsor Rich Energy has requested the team removes its stag logos from the team branding and car due to its ongoing legal dispute with Whyte Bikes.

Last month Rich Energy lost a court battle over its stag logo with Whyte Bikes claiming a copyright infringement.

The Purist

This is not the sport I fell in love with. We all sound like lawyers. It just gives no edge to the sport. I am a purist. I love going back and looking at the old times, the old cars, the old drivers. It is an honour when you have the chance to meet them and speak to them. They are heroes. I really love that, but I just wish I could do what I do in their time, rather than today. It is not just about this decision, but other decisions, too.

Sebastian Vettel is wishing for a time machine his damaging penalty at the Canadian Grand Prix cost him a race victory

The Big Picture

Vettel swaps over the signage in the post-race grid after being stripped of victory

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