F1 Business Diary 2016: the Singapore Grand Prix

The Singapore Grand Prix saw Nico Rosberg reclaim the world championship lead from Lewis Hamilton, following a grandstand finish which saw the German pip Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to first place by just 0.488 seconds.

The Singapore Grand Prix saw Nico Rosberg reclaim the world championship lead from Lewis Hamilton, following a grandstand finish which saw the German pip Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to first place by just 0.488 seconds. Lewis Hamilton finished in third place, meaning Rosberg moved into an eight-point lead. Elsewhere, Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz collided with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg just seconds after the start of the race, forcing Hulkenberg to retire, while Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen engaged in a ferocious battle throughout, which only ended when Red Bull decided to pit their Dutch 18-year-old to ease him off his Russian rival. But as usual, while the track saw drama aplenty, so did the areas off it.

Bernie bemused?

Earlier this month US media company Liberty completed a major takeover of Formula One, and Singapore saw incoming chairman Chase Carey tour the paddock and meet the teams. In an intimate interview between current Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone and Sky Sports presenter Martin Brundle, Ecclestone laid bare what can only be seen as his uncertain position in the future of the sport.

Speaking to Brundle, a surprisingly fragile Ecclestone unconvincingly asserted that he was the main man at the pinnacle of the sport, and that he would look to work alongside “new kid on the block” Carey. “He knows the US, and he knows television, he can bring a lot to us,” said Ecclestone. He failed to rule out an exit from the sport within the next three years, and appeared uncomfortable at accusations that he hasn’t worked well with previous colleagues in the past.

But while Ecclestone seemed, authentically or not, diplomatic about the appearance of Carey, the American himself was less reserved. Speaking after the Singapore GP, the moustachioed man likened the sport to a “dictatorship”, saying: “There can’t be a dictatorship here, even if probably they are used to it.”

Ecclestone’s word came before Carey’s, and one might imagine that he would be less reserved if speaking now. But whatever comes of their relationship, Ecclestone’s future looks unassured. He may remain within the sport, but his role, going forward, may not be quite what he is used to. Whether his pride will allow him to do that remains to be seen.

Italian Motor Valley?

Once again, the paddock was akin to an American high school as rumours swirled from all angles. The latest, which has been rumbling for some time, detailed the possible collaboration between Ferrari and specialist Italian race car manufacturer Dallara, as they look to compete once more with the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull.

“Contact with Dallara? Yes, there was,” confirmed Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene, speaking to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“We are planning on relaunching the Emlian motor valley to be able to answer the challenge posed by the English motor valley, where in a few kilometres there are factories of Mercedes, Red Bull, Williams, Renault, Force India and Manor.”

And Arrivabene wasn’t the only one singing the praises of the plan. Discussing the rumours, former driver Jarno Trulli said: “This joint venture of an Italian motor valley – if confirmed – would be a good thing.”

Whatever the start of the rumours, there certainly seems to be some truth in them, and with the sport in its current state, any venture to make it more competitive is surely to be well received.

Court win for the Schumachers

Outside of Formula One’s current stable of superstars, there was some good news for the family of one of its former champions. A court case, brought forward by the family of Michael Schumacher against a German magazine, looks set to be won by the former Ferrari driver’s kin.

Schumacher, a seven-time Championship winner considered one of the greatest drivers of all time, suffered a horrific skiing accident in 2013, where he was left in a medically induced coma. Schumacher left his coma six months later, before being transferred to his private home where he continues to receive treatment on what are described as traumatic brain injuries. 

Bunte weekly, a German magazine, published a cover story earlier this year claiming that the Formula One driver ‘walks again’.

The content, obviously distasteful, was disputed by the family, with their lawyer Felix Damm saying in court that he “cannot walk.”

And it appears both a Hamburg court and medical officials agree. It is reported that the family will receive €100,000 in damages for the false story, as well as a minimum of €40,000 in damages for the case, although a verdict is not expected until October.

The court case has offered the public a small window into the current condition of Schumacher, which has been kept considerably private since his incident. 

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