F1 Business Diary 2014: the Spanish Grand Prix

Mercedes utterly dominated the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, with Lewis Hamilton recording his fourth successive victory to wrestle the championship lead from team-mate Nico Rosberg at the first European event of the year.

Sunday's attendance for the Spanish Grand Prix, the first race of the European portion of the season, was down slightly on 2013.

Some 91,480 came through the gates to see Mercedes thump the field, compared to the 94,831 who saw Fernando Alonso romp to victory in 2013. Across the four days of the meeting – although there was no track action on Thursday, the Circuit de Catalunya pit-lane was open to fans – some 205,680 attended, down from the 218,331 in 2013. For the record, 67,500 fans watched qualifying on Saturday and 32,200 were at the venue for Friday practice. There's a perk for everyone who turned up, too: ticket-holders will be granted free access to the two-day Formula One test, which takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Meeting of minds

The promoters of the Spanish Grand Prix were amongst the 17 who met Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone on Saturday morning at the circuit. The start of the season has been marked by promoter complaints about the sound of the 2014-specification Formula One cars, with Mercedes poised to test some kind of amplification device later this week. The meeting, however, prompted perhaps the most pointless, not to mention pompous, press release in history. It read: 'A meeting was held on Saturday 10th May 2014, between the promoters of the FIA Formula One world championship, chaired by Ronald Walker to discuss various aspects of Formula One for the benefit of all of the fans who are concerned about maintaining the unique feeling of Formula One. Mr. Ecclestone attended the meeting in support of the promoters. Seventeen countries were represented.' On the grid on Sunday Ecclestone was asked for his assessment of the gathering: “We had a nice meeting to decide the date of the next meeting”, he smiled.


The H Bomb

As the men paid to promote Formula One, Ecclestone and the promoters of Grands Prix around the world, have spent much of the season so far complaining about the new technological direction Formula One has taken, the teams themselves have been adapting brilliantly to the most wide-ranging and complex set of regulation changes in a generation. In the absence of any central promotion of the increased efficiency – less fuel, more battery power etc. – Mercedes made a small but important step in Spain: it has formally renamed its dominant 2014 car F1 W05 Hybrid, to emphasise the changes. 'The change in terminology reflects the fact that the new powertrain is far more than simply an internal combustion engine,' read the team's press release. The Stuttgart-based manufacturer, which is adopting hybrid technology into its road car projects, is clearly not just ahead of the game on the track.

Lotus position

After a miserable start to the year, Lotus scored its first points of the season in Spain, with Romain Grosjean steering his car to a fine 8th place. But the rumours of continuing financial uncertainty which dogged the team throughout 2013 continue. And on Friday in Spain, Renault Sport chief Jean-Michel Jalinier revealed that one of its customer teams were behind on payments. He left the team unnamed but with Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso unlikely to be candidates and Caterham team principal Cyril Abiteboul confirming his team were up to date, attention has once again focused on the Enstone-based operation. Rumours continue to circulate about the ownership of the team, although a spokesman for Gene Haas, the American who announced last month he intends to set up a Formula One team, rubbished weekend rumours that Haas was due to visit Lotus' headquarters this week with a view to an acquisition.

Quote of the weekend

“It's that time of the year, silly season – it's the middle of the season, I'm working hard”.

Red Bull Racing chief technical officer Adrian Newey, the most sought-after technical brain in Formula One, refuses to completely rule out a move to Ferrari after it emerged the Italian team has made a multi-million dollar offer to the Englishman.
 

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