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Halo confirmed for 2018 as Strategy Group debates F1’s future

The FIA has confirmed that the Halo will be introduced to F1 in 2018 following a meeting of the Strategy Group today.

All teams were present, with Renault, STR, Sauber and Haas all represented, although not in a voting capacity.

Several key issues were discussed, and the FIA says that progress was made in various areas, summarised in the statement below:

Frontal cockpit protection

Following the unanimous agreement of the Strategy Group, in July 2016, to introduce additional frontal protection for Formula One and the repeated support from the drivers, the FIA confirms the introduction of the Halo for 2018. With the support of the teams, certain features of its design will be further enhanced.

Having developed and evaluated a large number of devices over the past five years, it had become clear that the Halo presents the best overall safety performance.

2021 Power Unit

An update was given to all attendees regarding the two recent extraordinary meetings held in Paris involving significant representation from the bulk of global motor sport power unit manufacturers.

Further analysis will be completed over the summer which will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Strategy Group in September.

Cost control

A new approach to cost control was presented and received unanimous support. A dedicated Working Group made up of representation from the Commercial Right Holders, the FIA and the teams will be tasked to come up with innovative solutions aimed at ensuring the sport remains sustainable in the coming years. 

Improving the show

A number of sporting measures aimed at improving the show were also debated and specific studies will be carried out to assess these.

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No further sanctions as Vettel apologises to FIA

Sebastian Vettel has escaped any further sanction for the “road rage” incident in Baku after a meeting in Paris today.

In essence the German “accepted full responsibility” and apologised and made a commitment to the governing body’s educational programme, although not in the area of road safety.

President Jean Todt decided that the matter should go no further, while making it clear that a repeat could result in the matter going to the International Tribunal.

The full text of the FIA’s statement is as follows: “Following an incident at the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix involving a collision between Car 5 (Sebastian Vettel) and Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), Sebastian Vettel was today invited to attend a meeting at the FIA’s Paris headquarters. He was accompanied by his Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene. He reviewed the incident together with a panel comprised of FIA Deputy President for Sport Graham Stoker, FIA General Secretary for Sport Peter Bayer, FIA Formula One World Championship Race Director Charlie Whiting and FIA Formula One World Championship Deputy Race Director and FIA Safety Director Laurent Mekies.

During the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, stewards officiating at the event issued a 10-second stop-and-go penalty to Sebastian Vettel, the most severe penalty immediately applicable before displaying a black flag notice to the driver. Sebastian Vettel also had three penalty points applied to his FIA Superlicence, taking his current total to nine.

However, while respecting the Stewards’ decision, the FIA remained deeply concerned by the wider implications of the incident, firstly through the impact such behaviour may have on fans and young competitors worldwide and secondly due to the damage such behaviour may cause to the FIA’s image and reputation of the sport.

Following detailed discussion and further examination of video and data evidence related to the incident, Sebastian Vettel admitted full responsibility.

Sebastian Vettel extended his sincere apologies to the FIA and the wider motor sport family. He additionally committed to devote personal time over the next 12 months to educational activities across a variety of FIA championships and events, including in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, at an FIA Formula 4 Championship to be defined and at the FIA Stewards’ seminar. Due to this incident, President Jean Todt instructed that no road safety activities should be endorsed by Sebastian Vettel until the end of this year.

The FIA notes this commitment, the personal apology made by Sebastian Vettel and his pledge to make that apology public. The FIA also notes that Scuderia Ferrari is aligned with the values and objectives of the FIA.

In light of these developments, FIA President Jean Todt decided that on this occasion the matter should be closed.

Nevertheless, in noting the severity of the offence and its potential negative consequences, FIA President Todt made it clear that should there be any repetition of such behaviour, the matter would immediately be referred to the FIA International Tribunal for further investigation.

“Commenting on the outcome of today’s meeting, FIA President Jean Todt said: ‘Top level sport is an intense environment in which tempers can flare. However, it is the role of top sportsmen to deal with that pressure calmly and to conduct themselves in a manner that not only respects the regulations of the sport but which befits the elevated status they enjoy.

Sportsmen must be cognisant of the impact their behaviour can have on those who look up to them. They are heroes and role models and to millions of fans worldwide and must conduct themselves accordingly.'”

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FIA confirms Vettel/Hamilton investigation

The FIA has confirmed that it is continuing to investigate the incident involving Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton at last weekend’s Azerbaijan GP “in order to evaluate whether any further action is necessary.”

It says that a meeting will be held on Monday July 3, with the outcome known before the next race in Austria – which means that any penalty that results can be applied at that time.

One of the problems Vettel faces is that last year he escaped punishment for swearing at Charlie Whiting on the radio in Mexico, and while the two incidents are different, the question of bringing the sport into disrepute through “foul play” could come up.

The governing body noted then: “The FIA will always condemn the use of offensive language in motor sport – especially when directed at officials and/or fellow participants – and expects all participants in its Championships to be respectful and mindful of the example they set for the public and the younger generation in particular.

“The FIA takes this opportunity to advise that, in the event of any future incident similar to the one that occurred in Mexico, disciplinary action will be taken by bringing such incident before the FIA International Tribunal to be judged.”





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Kubica runs first F1 laps since 2011

Kubica 3

Robert Kubica returned to the cockpit of an F1 car today, over six years after the rally accident that appeared to have ended the single-seater career of the 2008 Canadian GP winner.

The Pole drove 115 laps in a 2012 V8-engined Lotus-Renault E20 at Valencia, the same venue where he last tested for the same team in February 2011. Shortly after that test he suffered a serious rally crash in Italy, in which his car was penetrated by a piece of metal barrier.

He later returned to rallying, and has also had GT circuit outings, but it was generally accepted that he would not be able to drive a single-seater properly due to restricted arm movement as a result of the accident. However, he recently tested GP3 and Formula E cars.

The car he drove today is one that Renault uses to give young drivers mileage, and for demos and so on. Test driver Sergey Sirotkin also drove.

Renault has said little about the test, other than on its Twitter account. In a series of Tweets the team said: “It’s true. It really is Robert Kubica. Back in one of our cars after six years. So why did we keep it quiet? It was a private test, for Robert. But we can tell you this… Robert complained about grip, understeer, downforce and had the biggest smile on after his 115 laps!”

Kubica 3It remains to be seen whether Kubica, who is still only 32, will get further outings.

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It was 50 years ago today: Sgt Pepper’s racing connection


The Beatles with a young Adam Cooper – not me but the son of photographer Michael!

It was 50 years ago today that the Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album emerged, and The Beatles changed the musical landscape once more.

Apart from the fact that the Cosworth DFV won its debut GP three days later, there’s not much to connect motor sport with the most famous album in rock history. What a pity that racing fan George Harrison, who attended GPs at Aintree in his youth and had been to Monaco just the previous year, didn’t add a Fangio or Moss to the list of Beatle heroes pictured on the cover. However, there is one small anecdote that I can recount here.

In March 1967 Paul McCartney came up with the song She’s Leaving Home, inspired by a newspaper article, and he was eager to get into the studio to record it. Since he wanted a string section, he naturally called George Martin, who had scored the non-Beatle accompaniment to the likes of Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby. Such a job was not the work of a moment, and Martin had to tell McCartney that he was busy with a Cilla Black recording session, and couldn’t drop everything.

I rang him and I said, ‘I need you to arrange it.’,” McCartney recounted in the book Many Years From Now. “He said, ‘I’m sorry, Paul, I’ve got a Cilla session.’ And I thought, Fucking hell! After all this time working together, he ought to put himself out. It was probably unreasonable to expect him to. Anyway, I said, ‘Well, fine, thanks George,’ but I was so hot to trot that I called Mike Leander, another arranger.”

Leander had attracted McCartney’s attention in part because of a version of Yesterday he’d recorded with Marianne Faithfull, which featured strings, a choir, and the full works. He was a good stand-in for George Martin.

This where our racing connection comes in, as Leander was also the business partner of Richard Lloyd, later to become famous as both a BTCC and WEC driver and team boss, and the man who brought Bentley back to Le Mans in 2001. He also did much to popularise the original VW GTI in the UK. Sadly, he was to perish in a plane crash in 2008.

In the 60s Richard combined club racing with a career in music. For a while he was a producer at Decca – working with the ace R&B outfit Graham Bond Organisation, which featured future Cream members Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce – while the list of session musicians he could call upon for other projects included a couple of guys called Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. He also worked with comedy music group The Scaffold, whose members included Mike McGear – better known as Mike McCartney.

Anyway, Richard told me once that when Paul first called Leander and asked him to help out on She’s Leaving Home, he accompanied his colleague to McCartney’s house near Abbey Road to discuss the commission. So Richard got to hear an early version of one of the great Beatles songs, and was a first hand witness to the discussions about what Paul wanted Leander to do with the backing.

As McCartney recounted, “I got him to come over to Cavendish Avenue and I showed him what I wanted, strings, and he said, ‘Leave it with me.’”

This being 1967, McCartney had “recreational substances” to hand. And as Richard recalled it, while they were talking the front door bell rang, and someone looked out of the window and saw a policeman waiting patiently outside.

Did this signal the start of a raid? The previous month Mick Jagger and Keith Richards had been arrested for alleged drug offences at the latter’s home in Sussex, where the aforementioned Marianne Faithfull was also famously present. George Harrison and girlfriend Pattie Boyd had been there too, but left before the police moved in – indeed in later years the theory was the Beatles were initially regarded as off-limits by the overzealous cops (although before the end of the decade the notorious Sgt Norman Pilcher would nab both George and John Lennon).

The Stones bust was big news, and in the circumstances, McCartney could be forgiven for being a little nervous. Richard recalled that panic ensued, and the “substances” were quickly flushed down the McCartney WC. Somebody, probably Paul himself, then answered the door, presumably wearing his best cherubic choirboy look.

Does that car over there belong to anyone here?,” enquired the policemen. “No, it’s not ours,” came the reply. “Sorry to bother you.” The PC duly wandered off in search of an alternative owner, his mind presumably focussed more on an out of date tax disc or broken tail light than any off-duty misbehaviour by one of the most famous people in the country at that time. Macca and co could relax – and regret that they had rather hastily disposed of the stash.

Leander went home, wrote the arrangement, and returned it to Paul. On March 17 George Martin, disappointed that he’d been sidelined by the impatient McCartney, dutifully conducted the 10-player string section – and a Beatles classic was born. And Richard Lloyd was left with a story to treasure…

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Kimi Raikkonen: “You can always go a bit faster here…”

It’s been a long wait, but Kimi Raikkonen silenced a few of his critics with a superb pole in Monaco – nine years after the last time he started from the top spot in the 2008 French GP.

To be fair he did spend two of those seasons driving rally cars, but nevertheless it has been a long barren streak for the former World Champion.

A mistake by team mate Sebastian Vettel ensured that the Finn stayed on top when Q3 came to an end, and Raikkonen was guaranteed the most prestigious – and important – pole of the season.

“I would have happily taken any other place also, but it just happens,” he said. “But it’s something we haven’t really got in the last races. But if you take any circuit, here it’s the most important to be in front but it doesn’t automatically give you a win or a good result.

“There are so many things that can happen in a race that are nothing to do with you. You might be doing and the team might be doing a perfect job but actually there are absolutely other things which might destroy the whole race so it’s going to be a long difficult race but we have two cars in the best possible positions, so that’s the main thing.”

Raikkonen said it had been a good weekend so far.

“I think it’s the very fine details that make a difference here. If you have just a little bit of an off feeling with the tyres or something like that in one place, it limits you to go fast and obviously in those low-speed corners you can lose a lot of time for basically nothing. It’s tricky to put the good laps together.

“You try to kind of, in the practice, take it a bit easier, not to destroy the car, because then you are going to lose a lot. Then you push and hopefully you get it right. But I think it’s such small differences. It’s nothing to do with conditions or anything else, it’s just whoever gets the best feeling and being able to push.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit in certain places and we’ve been working and trying to figure it out and in qualifying it was better, by no means perfect, but it’s never going to be perfect. It was good enough and I was very happy with the car in there.

“If you look you can always go a bit faster here and there but that’s normal, it’s a never-ending story like that. We had a good timing when we went out. I felt good, so I was able to push and it was quite a nice straightforward qualifying. So happy for myself, happy for the team. Obviously we have two cars in the front tomorrow so let’s try to make the best out of it.”

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Mercedes looks for answers as Hamilton struggles for grip

Lewis Hamilton admitted that Mercedes has a lot of work to do after the team struggled badly in afternoon practice in Monaco on Thursday.

The former champion was fastest in the morning session, but the team lost its way in the warmer conditions in the afternoon, as both Hamilton and his team mate Valtteri Bottas struggled for grip. Lewis was only eighth fastest, and was 1.1s off Ferrari’s pace.

“I can’t, because I don’t understand it,” said Hamilton when asked to explain it. “P1 was really good, the car was feeling great. Then there was night and day difference, black and white. P2 was a little bit different, we couldn’t work the tyres for some reason, lots of sliding about.

“Lot of studying to do to find out where we went wrong, but I’m confident in my guys. I don’t know if it’s set-up. It’s just with the tyres, I don’t know why the tyres weren’t working.

“That’s something we have to study and figure out for Saturday. It gives the guys here more time to work on the car, spread over two days, rather than everything tonight.”

Asked about the challenge of driving round Monaco at the record speeds seen today he said the higher downforce levels made it easier.

“It’s the same as before. The car is a lot better, it’s got more grip. If anything, it might be easier. It feels great. Monaco is always amazing to drive, and it’s definitely the best car I’ve driven round here.”

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