Tata Communications: We achieved what we set out to do in F1

Tata Communications has ended a partnership with Formula 1 after eight years working together on the sport’s digital transformation, the Indian-owned company said.

Formula 1 confirmed they were no longer official partners, without further comment.

Amit Sinha Roy, vice president of marketing, said the deal ended on Dec. 31 and Tata wanted “to explore other platforms that will allow us to showcase the full power of our digital services to our key customers.”

“Our eight-year F1 journey, spanning 150+ races, was all about driving innovation in the sport,” he added in a statement to Reuters. “As we had achieved what we set out to do, we feel it’s the right time for us to conclude this marketing partnership.”

Roy said Tata, who had been the sport’s official connectivity partner, remained committed to customer relationships with broadcasters such as Sky and Star Sports television.

They would also continue working “behind the scenes for now” with other F1 partners and customers. Those included the Williams team and world champions Mercedes last season.

Formula 1 launched a television subscription streaming service in 2018, targeting an estimated 500 million fans worldwide as part of a digital transformation.

Tata had arrived in the sport under former F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who was ousted by the sport’s new owners Liberty Media in January 2017.


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Todt "amazed" by Mercedes' continued title success

FIA President Jean Todt has admitted that he’s amazed by the continued success of Mercedes at the pinnacle of Formula 1.

The German manufacturer has now won six consecutive team and driver championships, and has dominated the sport since 2014. Todt stressed how hard it was for any team or sportsman to sustain such an incredible run.

“It’s amazing,” he said, as reported by RACER.com. “I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to achieve that.

“To do that six years in a row is remarkable, particularly when you have other teams like Ferrari, Red Bull — now with Honda — and great drivers.”

He likened Mercedes’ success to an athlete lifting a 200kg weight and then managing to hold it there for an extended period: “Normally it comes down!” he pointed out.

Todt was himself team principal at Ferrari in the early 2000s when the Scuderia enjoyed its own spectacular run of success in F1, meaning he knows what it takes to put together – and sustain a title-winning team.

“I have full respect and it reminds me of some memories,” he said. “Even if I must admit that they did better — six and six, we did six and five — and with a strong competition.”

Todt added that he had been left “speechless” by Mercedes’ achievements and said that it was up to the other teams on the grid to catch up and end the run of back-to-back titles being racked up by the Silver Arrows.

Already, Ferrari and Red Bull have been gaining ground and made 2019 one of the closest championship battles in recent years.

“I feel that the championship was very difficult for them, much more than it may look,” said Todt of Mercedes’ ultimate success last year.

© WRI2

“But simply it’s a combination: you must have a great driver, a great car and a great team, because it’s so competitive. If you don’t have those three together it cannot work.”

Although he missed out on the 2016 title to his then-team mate Nico Rosberg, there’s no doubt that Lewis Hamilton has played a key role in Mercedes’ sustained success.

“It’s fantastic to have a personality and a talent like Lewis,” Todt said. “But it’s part of the story of motorsport. Every decade you have some special talents.”

He compared the reigning world champion to some of his most successful predecessors including Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart.

“Before Lewis you had Michael, you had Fangio, Clark, Stewart — there have always been some amazing talents. One day Lewis will go and some new talents will be confirmed.”

Todt said that it would be good to see the younger generation of rising stars like Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, George Russell and Pierre Gasly take over at the top once Hamilton decides to hang up his helmet for good.

“In terms of Verstappen, Leclerc – newcomers – the car will help them as I’m sure it will some new drivers like Norris, Russell, Gasly.

“They are very talented drivers and when they have the car and the personality to back it up, they will be the Lewis of the new generation.”

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‘Don’t treat new teams like second class citizens’

As Formula 1 looks to grow the grid, Chase Carey says the sport must avoid treating newcomers as “second class citizens”.

Although F1 and the FIA have made attempts in recent years to add an 11th team to the grid, the last outfit to join was Haas back in 2016.

There has been interest from others, such as Campos, but nothing has come to fruition.

Carey, F1’s CEO, believes this is in part due to the F1’s prize money structure which sees only the top ten teams from the previous two seasons receive money from Column 1.

That meant Haas didn’t receive any of that cash until last year.

“If you come in, you should be part of the part of the sport, and not a second class citizen,” Carey explained to Autosport.

“To come in as a second class citizen, I think that’s a deterrent.

“Once they commit to come in, [it is to] buy into a good business not just a great sport.

“If I’m coming in, if I wasn’t committing as a first class citizen, as a part of the club, then it’s a deterrent.”

Formula 1’s prize money structuring will be revised ahead of the 2021 season with Carey determined to ensure that F1 becomes a “healthier business model” for all the teams on the grid.

“Most of the people I’ve had preliminary conversations with want to see rules in place that provide the framework for a healthier business model,” said Carey.

“A fair level, or what they consider a fair level, of prize money distribution, and some disciplines and the cost that again make it more about how well you spend your money, not how much you spend.

“We want owning a team, like in other sports, to have franchise value.

“How do we make owning a team something that is a good business proposition and not just a pursuit of passion?”

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Server crash in race control caused DRS shutdown

A data server crash in race control caused DRS to be disabled at the start of Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Formula 1’s ‘Drag Reduction System’ is typically activated at the end of a race’s second lap, but at Yas Marina, race control displayed a message on teams’ timing screens that DRS was disabled, a status which remained in force until lap 18 out of 55.

“It was basically a data server crash,” said FIA race director Michael Masi.

“Basically, we disabled it immediately and it wasn’t until we were 100% confident that it was all not only back up and running but back up and running with the correct data available, that we re-enabled it.

“We ran various checks working collaboratively between the FIA and the F1 Group to make sure that everything was working hunky-dory.

“We were not going to take a chance until we were confident.

“Basically, the DRS signals going to the cars, effectively there wasn’t a confident feed that we could rely upon.

“We had to make sure that it was effectively back up and running, and back up and running in a stable condition that we were confident that what was being sent was equal and correct.

“And once we were happy with that, between us we reactivated it and enabled DRS.”

Robert Kubica (POL), Williams F1 Team
29.11.2019. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Practice Day.
– www.xpbimages.com, EMail: [email protected] © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

While a few drivers complained of obvious overtaking difficulties in the first part of the race, commentators noted a few good scraps taking place on the track as a result of the DRS’ unavailability.

Masi admitted that a breakdown for the entire duration of the race was a thought he preferred not to entertain.

“It wouldn’t have been a free for all, and to be honest, the exact impacts of it – I prefer not to even think about what they were!” said the Aussie, quoted by Autosport.

“But effectively, the precautionary measure straight away was just to do a global disable.

“There is a back-up. But the first part is to actually identify what the first issue was. And as we all know, with any back-up systems, there’s a lag with things clicking over.”

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Masi explains why Sainz and others avoided DRS penalties

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has clarified why Carlos Sainz and several other drivers in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix were not penalised for using DRS under local double waved yellow flags.

Sainz finished the race in fourth place, but a penalty for Lewis Hamilton subsequently elevated him to third – his maiden podium, and the first for McLaren in over five and a half years.

But that success was initially in doubt after it emerged that Sainz had utilised the drag reduction system just before the first of the two safety car periods late in the race.

An earlier drivers briefing had agreed that use of DRS constituted evidence that the driver had failed to slow sufficiently under waved yellow flags, which would make him subject to a five second penalty.

“I think if you look at it, having DRS open is against the philosophy of slowing,” said Masi, who then explained why this hadn’t been the case in Brazil.

“The stewards looked at that and determined that no investigation was necessary,” he reported. “The overriding factor of slowing for double yellows was absolutely complied with.

“We looked at it, and the overriding factor with double yellow flags is the requirement to slow and significantly slow. That’s what we looked at.”

The incident took place on lap 53 of the race before the safety car was then scrambled while marshalls removed Valtteri Bottas’ stricken Mercedes from the tide of the track.

©McLaren

Masi revealed that Sainz had been far from alone in being investigated by the stewards for a possible breach of the rules.

“I think it was eight, all in that area,” he told Motorsport.com. “All of them complied with [the requirement to slow down].

“Yes, a couple of them did activate DRS for a relatively short period of time, but I’ll call it muscle memory.

“It’s one of those things you can’t make a rule to suit every situation,” Masi added. “[It] is the reason why we have stewards to make a determination on things, and the overriding factor is that they slow which they all did.”

Masi admitted that it was weakness of the current technical system that while DRS could be disabled for all cars everywhere on the track in the event of a full safety car for a serious accident, or for inclement weather.

“There isn’t the ability of isolating single DRS zones to turn them off,” he acknowledged. “It’s either they all get turned off or not.

“The technical reasons for it? If it was easy to have been done, it would have been done.”

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FIA reportedly takes action over Ferrari fuel system

The FIA appears to have launched an investigation into Ferrari’s fuel system, and is reported to have seized components used by the team at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

According to Auto Motor und Sport’s Tobi Grüner, “a thorough investigation of the parts will be conducted in the FIA laboratories.”

It’s believed that the seized components include “parts of the fuel system of Ferrari” and in addition parts from “one Ferrari customer and one non-Ferrari”.

It comes just after the team had appeared to be given a clean bill of health after being investigated by the governing body as a result of questions raised by rival teams.

Although no official protest was ever lodged, there had been some pointed queries from other teams about how Ferrari had achieved such a big boost in straight line speed since the summer break.

Red Bull suggested three possibilities to the FIA involving increased flow rates and asked whether they would be considered within the rules, which resulted in two technical directives being issued to clarify the situation.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Autosport at the time that: “If somebody was doing what the technical directive clarified, it would have been foul play,”

The officials determined that Ferrari had not in fact broken any of the rules highlighted in Red Bull’s enquiry. But even so, doubts have remained over exactly how the Italian team has pulled off its mid-season leap in performance.

Reports that the FIA has seized parts of the fuel system for laboratory testing would constitute a significant escalation of the official enquiry into the SF90.

However it does not appear to have been triggered by a protest – official or otherwise – from another team. Both Red Bull and Mercedes had both said they wouldn’t be raising the matter again at this point of the season.

It may be that the FIA simply wants to stamp out once and for all any lingering suggestion of cheating by carrying out its own in-depth and more wide-ranging investigation without waiting for individual specific protests.

After a string of six pole positions from Belgium to Mexico leading to three wins for the team, Ferrari hasn’t topped qualifying or won a race since the technical directives were issued.

Sebastian Vettel started from second place in Brazil and Charles Leclerc was fourth fastest in qualifying, but neither driver finished the race after the pair made contact and were forced to retire with six laps remaining.

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Masi explains decision not to penalise DRS drivers

Although eight drivers, including Carlos Sainz, were looked at by the stewards for using DRS under yellow flags in Brazil, Michael Masi says they did “significantly slow”.

Valtteri Bottas retired from the Brazilian Grand Prix on lap 53, parking his W10 on the side of the track.

That brought out waved yellow flags.

According to the rules, drivers have to slow down when they enter the area of the yellow flag with eight drivers, including Sainz, looked at for not doing so.

Some of them, Masi says, even activated their DRS for a “relatively short period of time” before slowing down.

“The overriding factor with double yellow flags is the requirement to slow and significantly slow,” he explained to RaceFans.net.

“That’s what we looked at with all of them and all of them complied with that.

“So the stewards looked at that and determined that no investigation was necessary.

“The overriding factor of slowing for the double yellows was absolutely complied with.”

Asked whether he needs to once again address the drivers regarding the yellow flag rule, Masi said: “It’s one of those things you can’t make a rule to suit every situation.

“It’s the reason why we have stewards to make a determination on things and they said the overriding factor is that they slow, which they all did.”

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Abbott: American fans need a hero like Max Verstappen

Rick Abbott, the executive vice president of the Circuit of the Americas, applauds the idea of a second Grand Prix in the USA but says, more importantly, the country needs a driver in the top flight to ignite public imagination as Max Verstappen has done for the Dutch.

During the weekend in Austin, Abbott told Auto Hebdo that he believes the real next step for the development of Formula 1 in America would be a local driver, “Look at how Max Verstappen woke up the Netherlands. Our fans are no different to European fans – they need a hero to cheer on.”

Abbott is also supportive of F1’s efforts to spice up the show, “I appreciate Liberty Media’s efforts in social media, e-gaming. F1 faces the same problems as other sports – we’re all trying to create bridges to attract young people, which is more and more difficult.”

Meanwhile, despite strong opposition from local groups, Liberty Media is trying for a second time to launch a race in Miami, this time mainly on the grounds of the Hard Rock Stadium.

Abbot explained why he supports the project, “A second race would only make us stronger. F1 needs an increased presence in the US to develop its fan base and we would only benefit from it. We are very proud of our facilities.

“We built this facility so that F1 can fully express itself here. I’m not saying that racing in Miami would be a bad thing – quite the contrary. Miami in May or June on an urban circuit, and us in October on a road course, would be complementary.”

But when asked if the race in Austin is now well enough established to compete with a competitor on US soil, Abbott insisted, “Once again, we have more hope than fear about the organisation of a second grand prix.”


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‘2021 cars will be 3-3.5 seconds slower per lap’

Conceding F1 made a mistake prioritising speed over passing, 2021’s new-look cars will be “approximately 3 – 3.5 seconds slower per lap” but will have “raceability”.

Liberty Media and the FIA unveiled the 2021 car design ahead of the United States GP with the World Motor Sport Council having given its unanimous approval to the new regulations.

The new cars have a futuristic look to them, however, FIA’s head of single seater matters Nikolas Tombazis has revealed they will be slower than what the drivers are racing today.

But, more to the point, he believes they will have better raceability.

“We are expecting cars to be approximately 3 – 3.5 seconds slower per lap,” he told Autosport.

“But we don’t think that is the key parameter of the spectacle. We feel the raceability is the main target.

“We haven’t been focusing on an exact level of performance.

“We cannot predict exactly where the downforce will end up compared to the current cars, it will be a bit less after the development has been carried out.

“But even the car that has been developed in CFD and developed in the wind tunnel has already got a respectable amount of performance.

“It has been developed by a relatively small number of aerodynamicists and hours in the wind tunnel compared to a normal team.”

F1 sporting boss Ross Brawn acknowledged that F1 had lost the plot back in 2017 when the sport went for speed over passing.

He believes the new 2021 design addresses that problem.

“These cars from 2016 to 2017 had a huge increase in downforce, and it is worth thinking back on that experience because it was done for reasons I don’t understand,” he explained.

“The huge increase in downforce was ‘let’s make the cars go faster, let’s make F1 better’.

“But what we have actually done is made it worse because the cars can’t race each other.

“The cars are very quick now but they are not raceable.

“The reality is the performance of these new cars is about where we were in 2016 and I don’t think anyone was complaining about the cars being slow.”

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‘Breach financial rules, lose your championship’

Formula 1 boss Ross Brawn has warned the new financial regulations “have teeth” and will bite teams if they fall foul of the 2021 rules.

As part of the 2021 blueprint, which has been officially ratified by the World Motor Sport Council following unanimous agreement from all parties, a $175m, fully enforceable cost cap will be introduced in the hope that success will be dependent on how teams spend their money rather how much they spend.

And Brawn has said teams can expect big consequences if they do breach the sport’s new, strict financial regulations.

“Financial regulations are the dramatic change in F1,” Brawn said in the official reveal at an FIA press conference in Austin, Texas.

“We’ve tried for these in the past, and we’ve not been successful. I think the crucial thing about the financial regulations now is that they are part of the FIA regulations.

“So the sanctions for breaching financial regulations will be sporting penalties of some sort, depending on the severity of the breach.

“Whereas before we had the resource restriction, which was a gentlemen’s agreement between teams – well there’s not many gentlemen in the paddock I’m afraid, and that was a failure.

“But this has teeth. If you fraudulently breach the financial regulations, you will be losing your championship. So it has serious consequences if teams breach these regulations.”

Brawn went on to say the financial regulations set out will need further refinement, but reiterated that Formula 1 must have greater control over team spend.

He added: “We’ve got a very strong team of financial experts within the FIA and within F1, and we’ve sought outside support on this.

“Deloitte are one of the experts on sports finances, they’ve been very involved with the football world, and you can see the positive effect that’s starting to have.

“They’ve been pretty well thought out, but they will need development, like any regulation.

“I fully expect that we are going to have challenges in the future to implement this, but it’s absolutely essential for the good of F1 that we have a control on the finances and how much is spent in F1.

“They are essential for the well-being of F1. Budgets have been escalating. F1 is almost a victim of its own success in that the rewards of success are so valuable that the justification for investment keeps coming.”

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