Formula One

F1's new era: Ecclestone out, Brawn in

Formula One might still be run by old, white males following today's announcements, but at least it's a fresh start and hopefully a new direction for the sport that has been accused of being stale and risks losing its tenure as the leading edge of motorsport in recent years.

First came the announcement that Bernie Ecclestone was stepping down as CEO of FOM, but will remain in a position where he can provide advice to the board.

Mr Ecclestone:

“I'm proud of the business that I built over the last 40 years and all that I have achieved with Formula 1, and would like to thank all of the promoters, teams, sponsors and television companies that I have worked with.
“I'm very pleased that the business has been acquired by Liberty and that it intends to invest in the future of F1. I am sure that Chase will execute his role in a way that will benefit the sport.”

Executive Director of the Maclaren Technical Group Zak Brown said that Bernie's exit resulted in some big shoes (figuratively) that needed filling, but was confident that Liberty Media and new CEO "Chevy" Chase Carey were up to the task of rebuilding F1's standing.

Zak Brown:

“Over the next decade I expect the way Formula 1 is run will become both freer and more fan-friendly, and as such we can expect to see new generations of Formula 1 devotees recruited and delighted via the proactive embracing of digital and social media, gaming etc."

Perhaps the biggest news is that schools of salmon and trout across Britain will be sleeping a little easier knowing that master tactician Ross Brawn is putting down his fishing rod and returning to Formula 1 in a management role.

Brawn has been confirmed in a newly created role of "Managing Director, Motor Sports" by Liberty Media, presumably to help shape and improve the direction of F1 from a technical standpoint.

“It’s fantastic to be returning to the world of Formula 1,” said Brawn. “I’ve enjoyed consulting with Liberty Media these last few months and I’m looking forward to working with Chase, Sean and the rest of the Formula 1 team to help the evolution of the sport.
“We have an almost unprecedented opportunity to work together with the teams and promoters for a better F1 for them and, most importantly, for the fans.”

It's certainly true that some of the top figures like Ecclestone have been responsible for conceiving and regulating the very worst measures that the sport has seen. It's also true though that he has kept the sport viable and operating while expanding its global reach, scrapping to find new sponsors to support teams and drivers and going over and above to keep the cars on the track for the last four decades.

Ironically it's the backroom deals that Ecclestone has forged over the years that have held F1 together, now his departure could expose just how unsteady the foundations of the sport are in truth.

To be clear, I'm certainly not sorry to see Ecclestone go -- especially when personnel of Brawn's pedigree are being brought in -- but there is a nagging concern that the slightest gust could send this whole thing into a tailspin.  

Let's hope we look back on this moment fondly in two or three years' time as the dawning of a new era.

Toto Wolff on Mercedes avoiding "the dark side of the force"

Fascinating sit-down with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff in the "Daily Fail" where he reiterates his desire to keep F1 interesting while juggling the need for further Mercedes dominance.

On Red Bull (and Star Wars):

"The sport needs multiple winners. It needs the odd freak result. It needs the underdog to win. The moment you become a dominant force, you suffer and your brand suffers. You become the dark side of the force.
"It even happened to Red Bull. They joined the sport. They were the Jedis ... But after winning the world title four times in a row, they developed into an unsympathetic brand. Nobody wants the establishment."

Will he let Hamilton and Rosberg truly race each other in 2016?

"Maybe it's about unleashing the two of them [Hamilton and Rosberg] completely. Make them have their own strategy cars. That would be a solution."

However he goes on to say...

"I don't want fighting in the team. I'd like the boxers to fight but not the trainers and the physios and everybody around the ring.
"Maybe the big fall-out ending in a crash and animosity, in terms of the entertainment factor, maybe that's what's missing with Mercedes being so dominant. Maybe you need that, but fundamentally, I don't think we need that as a team.

Sounds like, despite the headline of the article, that things will be status quo or even less exciting than the last few years, at least if Wolff has his way. 

Source: Daily Mail

Farewell Jules, and thank you. I will always remember you.

I wrote the following message on our Facebook page, it seems appropriate to post it here as well...

The family of Jules Bianchi have delivered the news that we were all afraid of by announcing the passing of Jules Bianchi. 

When Jules had his accident in Japan last year, Zach and I were both terribly busy right after the race and eventually managed to record the podcast but it was very tough to control the emotions were both feeling. In one sense, we were probably avoiding dealing with it for as long as possible.

Writing a column about the accident gave me a chance to take comfort in Formula One's excellent safety record - no driver fatalities during races since Ayrton Senna, 20 years earlier - but in reality things were very different.

Two years ago at the Canadian Grand Prix a marshal died after being struck by a crane on the track. Later that year Maria De Villota passed away from injuries she sustained from a very serious crash during an F1 testing session. 

This year at the Albert Park Grand Prix the Australian fans were denied the opportunity to see Fernando Alonso race as he was still recovering from an incident during testing in Jerez where he mysteriously veered off-track and needed to be placed in a coma to stabilise his condition. 

Jules was a young driver with a promising future, the composure of an F1 star with the talent to back it up. There was something different about him as if he transcended the common label of a "pay-driver". In a sport that doesn't always reward talent with the fastest cars, we somehow took for granted that the sport would nurture and protect him. 

His accident led to a review of Formula 1 safety standards, and I understand there are people working tirelessly to make the sport safer, but there is still a long road ahead and plenty of work to do. Despite their best efforts, in reality the safety record that the sport prides itself on is not much more than luck, a commodity that has now seemingly run out completely.

Using tags like ‪#‎ForzaJules‬ no longer seem appropriate or in any way adequate to describe how we're all feeling.

We all want change in the sport, but more accurately we want improvements. I can only add my voice to the growing number in our circle who are disgusted at the thought of actually making it more dangerous. Moments like this highlight just how ludicrous that proposition actually is.

It's common for personalities who follow sports to say that their thoughts and feelings go out the grieving family, and naturally this applies to us as well. Perhaps more value though, our thoughts go out to our followers and all F1 fans.

We know how you are feeling because we feel the same way. If anyone needs anything you know how to reach us and encourage you to do so if you feel it will help you deal with this tragic event.

Farewell Jules, and thank you. I will always remember you.

^ Rodney

Hello, Qually! Canadian GP Qualifying recap

What? You mean you didn't get up at 4am Melbourne time to watch qualifying? Well, it's a good thing for you that Rod posts these quicky recaps of qualifying highlighting each session, driver quotes and Canada kicked off in controversial fashion with Vettel and Massa both being knocked out in Q1.

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