United States Grand Prix ‘boycott’ claim denied

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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In the round-up: Reports Lotus, Sauber and Force India will boycott this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in response to the sport’s inaction over cost reduction have been denied.


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F1 teams in US Grand Prix walkout threat (The Times, subscription required)

“Executives at Lotus, Sauber and Force India are in talks to decide whether to make a protest against what they believe is the sport’s massive financial inequality by pulling their cars out of the race in front of 100,000 spectators at the Circuit of the Americas and a global television audience of millions.”

Lotus, Force India and Sauber threaten F1 boycott (The Telegraph)

“Force India, Sauber and Lotus are believed to have discussed the extraordinary plan, although Lotus later denied any involvement and insist they plan to race on Sunday.”

Formula One facing crisis as teams threaten to boycott US Grand Prix (The Guardian)

Bernie Ecclestone: “If we lose another two teams that is what will happen. We need [small teams] if they are going to be there performing properly and not moving around with begging buckets.”

Top teams have agenda – Fernley (BBC)

“[F1 owners] CVC and the teams they have empowered have got some form of programme in place because nobody (otherwise) would have teams going out of business. There is a (financial) split that is inequitable.”

Bernie Ecclestone warns that only fourteen cars may be on the F1 grid in 2015 (Sky)

“It could go down to 14. If we lose another two teams that is what will happen. I can’t predict if it won’t or it will. But if it is 18 no drama at all.”

Red Bull ist bereit für drittes Auto (Auto Motor und Sport, German)

Auto Motor und Sport claims Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren are prepared to field third cars if only 18 cars are entered for next year’s championship. They will use drivers without F1 experience, the cars will not earn points in the constructors’ championship and can run in different liveries.

Buyers interested in Caterham, says administrator

“We remain in conversation with a number of credible, interested parties regarding the sale of the historic Caterham F1 racing team.”

F1 team founder Frank Williams in hospital (Reuters)

“Formula One team owner Frank Williams is in hospital in England and is expected to stay there for several weeks for treatment to a pressure sore, the team said on Friday.”

Kobayashi open to F1 reserve role (Autosport)

“I can’t bring money but I would happy to be a third driver to get some more opportunity.”

Hamilton splits with media mogul Fuller as world title race hots up (Daily Mail)

Lewis Hamilton who joined Simon Fuller’s management stable to fulfil his dream of fame and riches in America, has decided to take control of his own management affairs.”

When the Right Stuff Isn’t Enough in Formula One (The New York Times)

“Rossi was again in the front line to race this weekend — to the delight of American fans who had not seen an American driver since 2007, when Scott Speed raced a season and a half at the Toro Rosso team. But Marussia then withdrew because of financial problems.”

The peril of being right (Crash)

“Diplomacy isn’t working. A little bit of benign dictatorship from the Place de la Concorde would not go amiss.”


Comment of the day

Is Bernie Ecclestone most to blame for F1’s growing crisis?

Effectively we have someone running the sport who thinks it’s perfectly fine for lots of the profits generated to be taken by the shareholders, for the big teams to take most of what’s left and the smaller teams to be left with less than it costs to run a team. I’m not a financial expert but even to me this appears to be a pretty poor and unsustainable business model.

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Five years ago today Sebastian Vettel won the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:

Image © Force India, Williams/LAT

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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59 comments on “United States Grand Prix ‘boycott’ claim denied”

  1. “We remain in conversation with a number of credible, interested parties regarding the sale of the historic Caterham F1 racing team.”

    I’m sorry, WHAT?

    On what grounds is Caterham a “historic” F1 team. It’s not even like Lotus, who at least bear the same name as historic team despite there being little connection between the old team and the new one…

    1. @vmaxmuffin And at least team Enstone did have a pretty good past (MSC’s first 2 titles, Senna’s Monaco 1984, etc)……

    2. It is historic in the past tense.

    3. “regarding the sale of the histrionic Caterham F1 racing team.”

      There, FTFY :)

    4. Maybe they referred to the (cursed?) Leafield factory, which held the indeed historic Arrows F1 team, and later everyone’s favourite backmarker, Super Aguri ;)

      1. There’s probably been F1 cars at Leafield for most of the time we’ve had 2 car teams (29 years, out of 100+), and don’t forget that they ran the Lotus name as well…..

        PS. I’m sure wasting $100m+ on F1 allows you to be histrionic…

  2. *If* those boycott talks really took place, those teams are nearly insuring a reaction from the powers that be to be unsympathetic and resulting in a push for 3 car teams. Threatening boycotts and potentially jeopardizing contracts will be met with a giant Monty Python sized foot coming down that would sooner smash those teams out of F1 before they would ever get any help financially or otherwise. The budget cap will never happen, true cost cutting is unlikely and these teams are undermining their own existence in F1 by threatening a boycott.

    Do they have some valid points? Certainly. Does Bernie give a fig about their issues? No way. His begging bowls quote says it all. Bernie will just say, see, I told you so, we need 3 car teams. They are playing right into his hands, *if* the reports are true.

    1. It simply could not happen to have a large portion of the grid turn into the pits instead of take their grid spots on the formation lap. Oh, unless it is the USA GP and then it is ok because that has happened before.
      At Indy people boo’d and threw water bottles on the tracks and harassed team trucks as they left the track. Boycott the race in Texas, and you might have a far different response. Austin is a more cosmopolitan city to be sure, but the saying still applies…..”Don’t Mess With Texas”.

      1. One would think that an obvious result of that farce would be how to avoid it happening again . But, this is F1 after all.

    2. Oh, I can imagine they had a talk about what on earth can they do to change the (seemingly inevitable) course F1 is taking @bullmello, and that idea got on the table for a moment. But I am also sure all of them must have quickly brushed it aside, because it would only make everyone even more stupid, but wouldn’t help their cause a bit.

  3. “Auto Motor und Sport claims Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren are prepared to field third cars if only 18 cars are entered for next year’s championship. They will use drivers without F1 experience, the cars will not earn points in the constructors’ championship and can run in different liveries.”

    So F1 prefers cars with no championship hopes to get in the way of those really competing? like HRT but running on front.

    1. I think third cars should run in their own race and championship, and the third car champion gets points for his team at the end of the season.

      1. @theo-hrp I rather see them racing for points and being a 1 car team by itself, “independent” to some extent from the main two car team. That way it’ll ensure those running 2 cars to finish ahead of them in the championship and they’d also be running against the other 1 car teams.

      2. I think the third cars should go round the track the other way.
        (Don’t tell the Strategy Group)

    2. @fer-no65, the press seem to be running any speculation they can come up with as a story today, I wouldn’t bother speculating about possible outcomes based on anything in todays roundup, unless it is written by Keith.

  4. Can’t anybody see the elephant, even if the teams share of the profit they generate was divided evenly between 10 teams that would only be 6.3% of profit per team while FOM would take 37% almost = to 6 teams share (37.8%).
    How can that be justified, let alone sustained ?

    1. Easy answer @hohum: it isn’t justified, nor sustainable

  5. Well, I think I may have found Lotus’s performance problem.

    Too much money spent on the mechanics outfits.

    1. Good to see Grosjean on the podium. I didn’t expect that this year.

  6. Would it not be outside the FIA’s powers to mandate the scope of a Formula 1 teams structure?

    eg. – the team may have one business entity for engine, chassis and electronics operations respectively, within which all other functions must be run…
    – The business entities must submit reports to the governing body for cost monitoring
    – Parts used in the construction and running of the cars must be sourced/costed/whatever through these business entities

    I agree with the Crash article… a bit of dictatorship could go a long way.

    1. The engines have to be a separate entity. Not all teams make their engines and not all engine suppliers participate as teams.
      They should be able to spend whatever they want on their engines, but must guarantee to supply other teams at a fixed cost.

  7. 18 cars? 14 next season? F1 is dying a ridiculous death. And all this talk about getting rid of the “backmarkers”… Bad news is there will always be a “backmarker”, even if we were down to 2 teams, one of them would be a “backmarker”. Yeah let’s get rid of all them and just have two mercedes on track.

    1. You mean there are other cars besides the two Mercedes this year?

    2. The other bad news is that besides Haas, who will essentially be the Ferrari junior team, who would want to get into F1? Look at the most recent expansion. USF1: Never even made the grid. Campos Meta 1/Hispania Racing/HRT: Changed ownership every year until it folded after the 2012 season because no one wanted to buy it and have to be the one to lose money in 2013. Lotus Racing/Team Lotus/Caterham F1: Also changed ownership, but the new ownership couldn’t even fund the team for the conclusion of the season. Now they are very likely done for. Manor Racing/Virgin Racing/Marussia Virgin Racing/Marussia F1: Also likely to never race again. Scored the only point out of all of these teams.

      Considering the other teams that have publicly or quietly sought to sell themselves with very limited success; what real chance do these four have? People aren’t looking to buy into F1 teams as an investment because the business model is so flawed. The buyers they have attracted in the past were all underfunded entities that wanted in F1 to say they were in F1. They hoped to use the F1 exposure to enhance their other businesses, but quickly found F1 involvement to be a huge cash drain. We are at or near the point where potential buyers have seen enough failure to realize this before getting into the sport. Also capital to make this kind of purchase will be very hard to come by, because strong investors and bankers are looking first at their return and not a emotional attachment to the sport.

  8. I am very sad that the wonderful sport of F1 seems to be messed up right now. There is no leader and visionary for this sport. There are few people who are heavily interested in commercials and money. I have never heard anybody from the F1 leadership speaking about the vision for the sport in 10 years from now or 20 years from now. Instead all that happens is the Cost cutting and money talks. The segregation between the rich and poor teams. On one hand there is cost cutting exercise and on the other had there is bank-rolling of the large teams. I am kind of perplexed at what exactly is happening to the sport. Bernie is not worried that the grid could be 14 teams. All he is worried about is the commercials. It is the tail wagging the dog scenario here. If the sport puts up a genuinely good show, money will automatically follow. Instead all sorts of theatrics like double points etc are created which does not mean anything to the sport.

    Hypothetically lets say if Red Bull (or Dietrich Mateschitz) gets disinterested because this sport is not attracting eye balls and decides to leave F1, there goes 4 more cars. Then we are left with Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren. McLaren even being one of the sports biggest names is yet to find a good sponsor. How is this possible ? More than an year and a half and a legendary name like McLaren is running without a title sponsor.

    IMHO if the sport was interesting enough there would be more viewership, then more parties would be interested in bank rolling the sport and then more investments will start coming through. One must also Think Beyond the “Idiot Box”. Given today’s vast expansion of technology and internet, CVC must be able to get the sport across to the global audience through Channels beyond the Cable providers !!!

    I think this sport badly needs new thought leadership and out of the box thinking to revive itself. This is the sport I love so dearly and I hate to see it go down for the commercial interests of a a handful of people.

    Who knows maybe a FOFA ( Formula One Fans Association ) is the need of the hour !!!!!

    1. While Red Bull certainly could pull out if attendance and viewership were to continue falling (since this is just a marketing vehicle for them, they aren’t a pure racing company); I wouldn’t discount the possibility of Mercedes being the first of those to leave. They’ve already left the sport once before. If Formula 1 no longer had the prestige it has now, why would they want to spend as heavily as they do to be involved? There are FAR more cost effective series to be a part of.

  9. If the teams are gonna boycott a race, then it should be the darbi double travesty, but it would be irony if happened in America again.
    That video had only one F1 car I think, the others looked like GP2 or something, def not F1. The lotus mechanics were hot though ;)

    1. My thoughts exactly.

  10. ColdFly F1 (@)
    1st November 2014, 4:28

    With Catherham/Marussia in administration and other teams mulling a boycott we almost missed the biggest upset! Hamilton is leaving (Pop) Idol ;-)

  11. Bring back Tobacco sponsorship. Marlboro, West, Mild Seven, Lucky Strike like early 2000

    1. If it was up to the greedy old man, then tobacco advertising which is one of the more highly regulated forms of marketing would have never disappeared. Tobacco advertising is banned in most countries in the world (EU,USA…). BTW Ferrari still have a sponsorship contract with Philip Morris which was signed in 2010 and runs until 2015 or beyond if i’m not wrong, very strange given the fact that Ferrari cannot even do any marketing for them, but if take a good look at the Ferrari F1 logo “Scuderia Ferrari” you’ll find it very similar to a Marlboro packet which is placed on the engine cover, even Santandar with their stratospheric sponsorship didn’t get that space on the car.

    2. Yes! I don’t understand why it was banned in the first place. Firstly, I have never smoked in my life, and these tobacco sponsors on the cars never persuaded me to smoke, which I think it was the reason why it was banned. Also, if smaller teams can get sponsorship from a tobacco company, they will probably get a lot of money, as tobacco companies are well known and rich. Lastly, they made the car liveries look brilliant!

    3. If you think the tobaco advertising ban was bad news then think what would happen if a similar ban came in for energy drinks. There is a small but growing campaign in Europe and the US to have energy drink sales restricted to over 18’s with a total ban on advertising/sponsorship.
      If it came in we’d see Red Bull & Torro Rosso forced to find new owners and several other teams with a multi-million pound hole in their finances.

      1. That won’t happen. I can see them be restricted to 18 and older, but Red Bull does a lot of fundraising for illnesses and they sponsor many athletes who may otherwise not have been noticed by other potential sponsors. Don’t forget that if the governments realize they can make money off of Red Bull, they will, just like beer companies are used by the governments to fill their back pockets.

        1. Tobaco raises billions in taxation, gave huge amounts to charity and pumped billions into sport yet were still banned from advertising, same goes for alcohol which is going through the same restrictions big tobaco went through in the 90’s.
          The health Nazis don’t care about the facts, all they care about is forcing their beliefs on the rest of us and if they can get similar levels of public support in the fight against energy drinks that they got with tobaco and alcohol they will use it to get sales restricted and advertising banned.
          Few people in the 80’s believed there would ever be a ban on tobaco advertising and they’d have laughed at the idea of a smoking ban but that didn’t stop them from becoming a reality.

          1. @beneboy, even though I am a lifetime non-smoker I used to think like that, now I am profoundley glad for the campaign that has finally broken that nasty addictions hold on the majority of the population.

  12. This reminds me of the 2005 F1 USA Grand Prix when Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi only raced while the other teams retiring on the parade lap.

  13. It’s quite amusing that these things happened in US, a market F1 want to explore more, but setbacks are considerably more than its progress. No New Jersey, bleak plan to race in Vegas, no Alex Rossi in practice, and two teams fallen out… Fortunately, Haas will join in 2016 and I believe that’s gonna open more opportunities.

    Regarding Fernley remarks that the top team has their own agenda, well it’s obvious isn’t it?
    – Strategy group consist of Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes, Williams (for history), and Lotus (last year best performers of non-member)
    – If we measure top teams by their budget, Williams and Lotus is excluded from that list
    – Lotus, Sauber, Force India is long known for financial problems.
    – Everybody wants more distribution prize. Not only the small teams, but also the top teams.
    – With CVC and Ecclestone in charge? Of course they won’t add any in the current total distribution money
    – The agenda is eliminating smaller teams by design. Same money, less team will result larger piece of cake
    – Three cars? Teams appointed will reluctantly prepared more cars, but for sure will ask for incentive.
    – CVC and Ecclestone agreed to add a little coins for that
    – Third car won’t get championship points? Not a problem for teams. As if they will give same rate of update on it?
    – Win win solution! (for Ecclestone and friends, though)

    1. Yeah, Bernie helping out Marussia would be worth it if only to give the fans a US driver with Rossi in the car this weekend.
      I am sure that would help F1 a lot more in the US than anything they are doing wrong now. But it can even get worse if the owners of the Austin track pull out because they can’t make ends meet with all revenue going (once again) to Bernie and CVC.

      Do we need further warnings? Not at all. What is happening now is pretty much exactly what could be expected.

    2. Blame Redbull and Ferrari for this problem. They forced Mercedes into increasing the funds for their F1 team. Those two teams have acted selfishly. The irony is that both Redbull and Ferrari will likely get paid more than Mercedes despite the latter winning the Constructors.
      Bernie loves to have manufacturers involved in F1. Their business model is not built on profitability. They are unlikely to complain about the income distribution model. But the privateer teams are forced to when the cost to compete exceeds their derivable income.

  14. That Music video is great, bit of a shame of all the jumpsuit clad women getting in the way of seeing the stable of Enstone cars run on track. Anyone else kept stopping it to get clearer images of them?

    Oh, and is that Grosjean with his first podium this year at the end?

    1. @basCB, I’ll have to check it out after setting up a proxy – seems the German ‘GEMA’ is stupid and useless and makes sure it is not available here.

    2. @basCB, yeah that video is great. I laughed so hard seeing Grosjean on the podium, he looks such a nice guy, hope he get’s a podium next year. Also note the V6 sound has gotten replaced in this video.

      1. Not replaced, the F1 car (I only saw one, the rest seemed to be GP2 or some such) in the video was not this years, but last year’s spec (you can tell because of the high nose), so the V8 sounds were correct.

  15. But if it is 18 no drama at all.

    Seriously, Ecclestone, get you head out of the sand.

    1. @andae23 Can’t they just overthrow him?

    2. He knows what’s going on, he just wants to convince you everything is ok so you don’t stop following F1. This is all starting to remind me of the really bad 80’s movie Weekend at Bernie’s. The people propping the sport up know its already dead, they’re just trying to keep everyone else from figuring it out because of their own personal agendas’.

      The economics of F1 are such that there is no way the sport survives as a premier series if it continues on the path its on. Bernie just wants to milk everything out of it for as long as he can. Changing the system would reduce his take, and he will do anything in his power to keep that from happening. As far as a long term vision for F1; at Bernie’s age a long term vision is not something he cares at all about. Bernie is only in this for Bernie.

  16. If you believe everything that Ecclestone says, then F1 does not need any cars, circuits or fans to thrill. You cannot really figure out what he actually thinks or is about to do but he knows that a 14-car grid would be a big problem for him, that is for sure. He also cannot be serious about bringing back the old V8 engines, that is just not going to happen.

    I have already heard a suggestion that it would be better for F1 to collapse, which would pave way for a new high-class racing series. Maybe it makes sense but I hope that my sport is still capable of solving the crisis that it has created.

    Also, if F1 is really heading for three-car teams, I believe that all three cars should be eligible for championship points (both DWC and Constructors). Anything else would be another gimmick imho.

    1. Just imagine Pascal Wehrlein beating both Ham and ROS in his rookie-season but not getting any points due to being the third car. That would be awful.
      Unlike many others I don´t see it as a catastrophe if there need to be 3-car-teams for one or two seasons, as long as this time is really used to get more teams into F1 and to fix the problems with many distribution in F1. However, every driver who is running needs to count the same, otherwise there´ll be a hell of a lot of problems coming from disposable cars running around.

  17. For years we have been banging on about the importance of having an established f1 race in America and reconnecting with the American fans following the demise of the previous races. I get the impression that COTA have really entered into that spirit BUT if I was an American fan I would think who is wooing who here? The message I am picking up is that “f1” can’t be bothered about the show and you the fans aren’t that important. American fans will have long memories and this perceived approach for a second time will not do the cause in the US any favours.

  18. Solution is simple, all small teams boycott and withdraw, start a new series (err… Business). not much advertising needed, motorsport fans knows already what’s going on, everyone will like to give a try watching new “Open wheel” racing series which would crash F1 business and give a competition, This is the right time to do it as F1 is most fragile at the moment. If you get a new series with lot more of racing / decent engineering, good regulations, smaller teams, sponsors, budgets, with good engine sounds, no DRS, less expensive and younger drivers, etc. then even the spoiled brats (multimillione $ salary drivers) will whine about their business crashing! In fact if such things happen, the F1 guys themselves will have to look for new jobs and drivers might migrate to new series. It’s just like starting another business all over again (but this time with scratch and controlled manner without acting puppets to others, cost control etc will already be in effect – no BS talks, etc)
    A much better GP2 but unlike F1

    On other Big boys Kimi (and probably Alonso, Jenson) also knows where this is going, they’ve had good years in F1 and their career, they themselves will move out and have fun racing in some other series. They’d squeeze as much salary they can, and then time to move (They’re smart and they’ve enough of it already – I see at-least 2 drivers moving out of F1 by 2016. Webber did the right thing!

    1. The idea of a break-away series seems great in theory, and has come close to happening a few times, most recently in 2009, I believe, it actually seemed for a while like it was going to happen. The problem is that there’s too many small problems:
      -How would they be able to market it or get it on TV so people could actually watch it? If it’s all small teams, they wouldn’t have the money for it
      -I doubt they would be able to secure any rights to use any of the tracks we would actually want to see them race on (Spa, Monza, Montreal, etc.) because F1 would still hold the race contracts, etc. and I doubt would allow it
      -Who would be and enforce the rules? I can’t imagine the FIA would want to be part of a series that competes with it’s own largest global championship

      So while I would love to see it happen, it realistically never will. As long as Bernie is in charge, our only real hope is that F1 gets so close to folding that the powers in charge finally take note and step in to restructure the sport into what it should be.

  19. sell customer cars for small one car teams.

  20. That video is the single best advertisement F1 had in at least a decade. Actually, it may be the only positive PR Formula One managed to put into wider audience in quite a while :-).
    Given that now both man and women turn away from watching it, perhaps using mechanics like in the video may lure at least the male half of viewership back. I’d say five or more mandatory pit stops should become the rule. Just wait till Bernie sees the video, we will have some interesting Strategy group meetings coming up.

  21. Bernie is right, Fernley is definetely right and also Fernandes who was very honest but as he said not a racer, f1 is not for him.

  22. If Force India, Lotus and Sauber boycott the US Grand Prix, what sanctions exactly they will face from FIA or Bernie? Monetary penalty or exclusion from racing for rest of the year or something else?
    Anyone having something regarding this ?

  23. I winder what Gene Haas thinks about the possibilty of have to enter a 3rd car ?

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