Formula One Business Diary: Italy

The Formula One world championship's final European race of the year saw a fourth victory in six for the dominant Sebastian Vettel. Off-track, discussion and speculation over the 2014 driver line-up and the make-up of next year's calendar.

Next year's Formula One world championship is bulging at the seams, with 22 events vying for what is still likely to turn out to be a 20-race season, the upper limit the teams have agreed to. A draft calendar was circulated to teams at Monza and although Bernie Ecclestone was at his disingenuous best, insisting the schedule hadn't come from him, it made for intriguing reading. Three new events are included: the previously announced, Red Bull-backed, return of the Austrian Grand Prix in June; the inaugural Russian Grand Prix around Sochi's winter Olympic park in October; and, most surprisingly, the inclusion of a Mexican Grand Prix at the start of November. Mexico last staged a race in 1992 and the venue, Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, will require substantial upgrades before it meets Formula One standards. But while a Mexican race is likely at some point in the not-too-distant future, its inclusion on the 2014 schedule might be more tactical than realistic. The proposed Grand Prix in New Jersey, in the shadow of Manhattan's skyline, is noticeable by its absence from the calendar, with organisers reportedly playing hardball with Ecclestone over the financing of the event. Mexico's inclusion might be intended to send a message to those north of the border to either put up, or shut up.

More on 2014
A couple of other calendar titbits: India, as previously announced is not included but will return in an early 2015 slot, to complete its five-year contract. Korea, which has hosted a financially disastrous October event since it joined the schedule in 2010, will move to April, although its place is marked by an asterisk indicating it is not yet confirmed for 2014. And, according to Autosport, Bahrain will revert to a night race, which will hopefully attract more people at the end of what is a working Sunday in the tiny kingdom and help local organisers and Formula one change the narrative at a race dominated by controversy over the political tensions on the island. Bahrain would be the third race to run under floodlights, after Singapore's street race and Abu Dhabi's twilight affair. The hope is it will breathe new life into an event which started brightly and is fully financed but has given the sport an image problem and awkward questions to answer each April since 2011.

David versus Goliath?
Briton David Ward recently confirmed he would stand against incumbent Jean Todt for the presidency of world motorsport's governing body, the FIA, in December. Ward, who resigned as secretary general of the FIA Foundation, the organisation's London-based charitable road safety arm in August to concentrate on his campaign, appeared in Monza on Friday to launch his manifesto. Entitled 'Agenda for Change', Ward outlined 20 points, explaining that the FIA, which is responsible for global road safety as well as motorsport, 'can give the impression of being antiquated and autocratic'. The 56-year old, who was close to former FIA president Max Mosley and supported Todt's election in 2009, is pushing for a reduction in the president's power, suggesting they 'are too wide to be effective or fully accountable'. As president he would create a chief executive role, has plans for greater transparency and accounting and 'use all the revenue in excess of regulatory costs of the F1 championship arising from the new Concorde agreement for investment in motor sport safety, sustainability, solidarity funding of ASN development programmes and for training of officials and volunteers.' Ward will spend the next few weeks working the FIA membership to seek the nominations he requires to formalise his candidature. He will at least face some competition with Todt, also stalking the paddock at Monza, confirming after some speculation he will stand for re-election to, as he put it, “complete the job”. The election is in Paris on 6th December.

Williams’ results are in
The Williams team announced results for the six months to June 2013 on Monday morning, confirming a loss of UK£5.6 million compared to UK£4.6 million over the same period last year for its core Formula One business, Williams Grand Prix Engineering. However, wider company losses were stemmed, with a UK£2.7 million loss compared to UK£3.1 million in 2012 for Williams Grand Prix Holdings, the parent company which is the umbrella for the Formula One team and its newer offshoots, Williams Hybrid Power and Williams Advanced Engineering. All in all not bad was the verdict from Sir Frank Williams, who insisted the results show that “we are well placed to make progress with our business on all fronts”, adding that the addition of Pat Symonds as chief technical officer and a new engine partner in Mercedes for 2014 are reasons for optimism. On the commercial front, he added: “The team also announced a total of nine new sponsorship acquisitions, renewals and upgrades for 2012, with a strong pipeline of potential sponsors in place for 2013.”


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