Mercedes’ Formula E departure must not distract from title defence – James

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In the round-up: Mercedes Formula E team principal Ian James says the team’s imminent departure from Formula E must not be a distraction from their defence of the titles they won last year.

In brief

Mercedes Formula E team must not be “distracted” by manufacturer departure

After winning the constructors’ title and taking Nyck de Vries to the drivers’ championship last year, Mercedes has one season left in Formula E before it departs.

Speaking to RaceFans, James acknowledge the manufacturer’s exit was “not, obviously, the decision that we were hoping for from a Mercedes perspective” but said his team’s focus is “absolutely 100 per cent on defending those” title.

“I think that the initial disappointment was actually pretty short-lived,” said James of the team’s reaction to Mercedes’ decision to leave. “The team itself is fully focused on season eight and season eight alone and the same to defending these titles.”

With the factory effort due to wind down at the end of the 2021-22 season, the team is conscious of its duty of care towards staff’s futures. “Obviously, from my own perspective, it’s split between getting things ready for season eight and making sure that we’re match fit for the staff,” said James. “But at the same time, with one eye on the future and making sure that we’ve got that well structured as well.”

The 2022 Formula E season will begin with two races in Riyadh on January 28th and 29th.

Alpine facing “most important winter”

The off-season break is especially crucial for Alpine this year due to the introduction of the budget cap last year and the revised technical regulations for 2022, according to the team’s executive director Marcin Budkowski.

“It’s probably the most important winter for this team since Renault came back because it’s the first car we’re designing under the cost cap,” said Budkowski, who sees the upcoming season as a vital opportunity for them to close on their competitors.

“We’re not on the cap, we’re below so it’s actually not impacting us, but it’s impacting our competitors. So in relative terms, it gives us a better platform, a better position. It’s a new reset, some areas of the teams that are working a lot better and I’m excited to see what they’re going to do.”

F1 teams and W Series among Virtual Le Mans entrants

Entries for the 2021 Virtual Le Mans, running on January 15th and 16th, have been announced, with several F1 teams’ esports outfits among the list. Alpine, Ferrari Driver Academy, Williams, Mercedes and Red Bull will enter teams for the 24 hour virtual event and W Series has announced it will make its first foray into esports (outside its own virtual 2020 championship) with an entry in the GTE category.

Romain Grosjean’s R8G esports team will also compete, as well as the Abu Dhabi circuit-based Yas Heat.

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Comment of the day

Michael picks out an interesting stat about relative time in junior series between Lance Stroll and four other of the 2022 F1 field.

Based on pre-F1 performance Stroll definitely has speed. He won a lot of F4 and F3 races with two dominant titles. Even in his rather messy first F3 year he still beat Russell and Albon (but finished behind Rosenqvist, Giovanazzi, Dennis and Leclerc. In his dominant F3 title-winning year he beat Gunther and Russell again and others including Zhou and Mazepin (who was a genuine backmarker).

The criticism was whether he was too young and inexperienced and whether extra testing/preparation gave him too much of an edge. However as he spent such a short time in junior categories (three seasons) overall the money spent on him probably wasn’t excessive.

Drivers like Mazepin, Zhou, Latifi and Albon spent far longer in junior categories, competing for a combined 29 seasons, in multiple categories per year, with only one title between them (Zhou’s 2021 Asian F3 title in his eighth year of car racing).

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Sparckus, Martin Rasmussen and Dion!

On this day in motorsport

  • 60 years ago today Stirling Moss won the New Zealand Grand Prix at Ardmore in his Lotus 21 despite starting from the back, because he arrived late, and the race being cut from 75 laps to 50 due to heavy rain

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 33 comments on “Mercedes’ Formula E departure must not distract from title defence – James”

    1. I know it’s the off season, but seemingly scraping the barrel when using publications such as the Telegraph and Express as links of interest.

      COTD was very informative and I never knew this about Stroll, I may even think of him in a different light going forward.

      Hugely important off season for the Enstone team, it would be nice to see then challenging for podiums on a regular basis

      1. RandomMallard
        6th January 2022, 0:42

        @djarvis The Telegraph can occasionally be alright, but it’s website is subscription only so most people can’t actually read more than half the first paragraph.

        The Express is a different story though (that said, this article is a very rare occasion of me agreeing with a tabloid newspaper; I don’t think Lewis is doing anyone any favours by not confirming what he’s doing next season).

    2. RandomMallard
      6th January 2022, 0:39

      As someone who is usually very critical of the tabloids newspapers we get in the UK, I’m quite surprised to be saying I mostly agree with that article from the Express. While I highly suspect he will be returning next season, his silence on the matter isn’t doing anyone any favours.

      (And what’s interesting has been the Express’ position on Lewis in the last few weeks. As you’d expect for a British tabloid, they’ve been very much pro-Lewis since Abu Dhabi, but the moment it comes to his talk about green initiatives and his social action, which I personally very much admire, they are suddenly quite a bit more passive-aggressive – in want of a better phrase – about him)

      That Schumacher mural really hit hard when I saw the photos. Not the greatest fan of him as a driver, but I hugely respect the person and his achievements.

      Forgot to mention it yesterday so I’ll put it today instead: that Miniatur Wunderland Monaco circuit looks incredible. It’s been on my bucket list for a while and this just gives me even more reason to go there.

      1. RandomMallard
        6th January 2022, 0:46

        Example of why I have these feelings on the tabloids btw, actually from this article (and from about every other tabloid article about F1 since Berine’s interview):

        [Something along the lines of] “Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone “doesn’t think he’s coming back” for next season.”

        And then in the next line:

        “I realised immediately that he did not want to talk about the future of his son, so we just talked about business.”

        So they’re reporting (pretty much as fact) something said by someone who no longer has official involvement in the sport, saying something based off a discussion he didn’t have.

        I believe the kids call it waffling ;-)

        1. Tabloids should be off the table, they will write anything down for the sake of hype or traffic, never liked when theyy were included in the roundup.
          Btw the sport doesnt need any of the stars that hard to be on the grid from sporting standpoint, only business and political angles which benefit from anybody that much. Liberty needs Hamilton on the grid as he was prevoiusly seemed highly marketable for their american expansion and gives them the usual corporate virtue signalling credits. Enough just seeing what a brainwashing was going from the official social channels about the last 7 years of statpadding how he is the greatest (somewhere I happy to see that now that manufactured greatness and his inflated ego are biting them back, at the end they eat what they cooked) or how they tried to manufacture last season big “progressive” moments at races Liberty thought he will win.

        2. The real problem, RandomMallard, is that this site is often doing exactly the same.
          I see headlines ‘fishing for clicks’, with a single word quoted for extra ‘fishfood’, and followed by a snippet of the article/interview which is purely chosen to create a reaction by us rather than reflecting the overall content of such article (or interview).

      2. his silence on the matter isn’t doing anyone any favors.

        I respectfully disagree. First, he’s really under no obligation to do anyone any flavors (if we’re to be honest) and secondly, the sport will move on with/without him (as some love to point out whenever the question of his value to the sport pops up).
        Besides, I suspect those that matter to him aren’t in the dark like the rest of us and that’s all that counts.

        1. RandomMallard probably meant (idiomatically): “isn’t doing himself any favours”.

        2. “I respectfully disagree”

          Yep, I’m of the same opinion. In fact, I believe his silence is benefitting everyone involved, namely Brand Hamilton, F1 and Mercedes. It creating a sense of intrigue, “will he or won’t he”.

          I also agree that F1 will move on if Lewis decides to not return. No denying that he is a massive draw, but ultimately, nobody is bigger than the sport. Great champions of the past have walked away, and we moved on.

          Having said all this, I more than certain he will back. If anything, Lewis will be using what happened last season as fuel to motivate his push in 2022.

      3. Why does Hamilton need to do you, me, or anyone else, a favor?

        He should be focusing on himself, whether he wants to come back, and if so, coming back in the best possible mental and physical state possible.

        He owes us nothing.

        1. grat and emma

          I don’t think I quite phrased myself correctly, so sorry for that. I didn’t intend to imply that Hamilton owes anyone a favour (although that is what it actually could be read as), and I definitely didn’t intend any malice, so apologies for that. I agree with both of you, especially grat in saying that he should be focussing on himself, and if my understanding of Lewis’ mindset is correct, I’m sure that’s what he’s doing. And I agree with emma in thinking that those in his inner circle probably do understand the situation.

        2. Emma and grat Yeah I agree. LH doesn’t owe anyone and his social media silence is his choice and is understandable. I highly doubt he is leaving F1, but related to that if by some chance he is, then to me he does owe to tell TW and Mercedes that asap so he can seek out another driver. I have to assume that if TW was seeking out a driver we’d know about it by now. I fully expect LH to be racing this year.

    3. I think the Dakar was mentioned on a previous round-up, so I hope it’s ok to ask this here: I haven’t followed the rally in the last 4-5 years but I’m watching it again this year, mainly the daily highlights on Eurosport, but is it just me, or do they show way less footage from the day’s action than they used to? Feels like 3 minutes spent on one category, then an irrelevant feature clip, plus since they have so many categories now they have way too little time for cars for example. One day there was a feature clip that just showed around a local Saudi’s not-even-too-impressive classic car garage for 5 minutes, absolutely nothing to do with the Dakar. I don’t remember these kinds of things from the South American or the African years, especially this prominently. The historic footages however have been great to watch.

      1. @hunocsi, Dakar coverage has been a shame for quite some time now. They used to have at least a 30 minutes show with plenty of details but they are following the trend to just show a bit of the actual racing and then spend times with other stuff. Eurosport has gotten a lot worse after it being acquired by Discovery.
        But this trend of focusing on “other aspects” more than the actual race is also seen on the official channel as well. The extended highlights are less than 10 minutes and it covers 6 different classes (bikes, quads, cars, light prototypes, SSVs and trucks). And they still show images of landscapes and cram a story (like a father/daughter team in the cars that had to chase the assistance truck) into these so-called “extended” highlights…
        Also on their channel the “Top Moments” of the stage videos are just around 1 minute!

    4. Huge respect for the greatest, and sad to feel that he will most definitely never come back. He did huge things, not just on but off track as well, and not for the continous validation seeking and muh social credits, but for the sake of helping. Although the anglo propaganda tried to antagonize him because blocking out of the championship the weak Hill and later the pet of the press mclaren boys (while trying currently really hard to make it look like they did nothing) he was really humble and he had a big heart off track.
      Self validation queens like lewis or regular marketing puppets like are just not on the same page. Vettel and Perez both on the current grid the ones who look like putting their money where their heart is and try to use their status to help people or just promote change.

      1. @leventebandi I think it’s unfair not to include Hamilton in that list – while not the greatest fan of his as a driver (which will shock precisely no one) I cannot help but admire his stance and actions on social justice issues.

        1. Well he founded a few years ago a fund to help poc kids in racing and that’s it. The rest is mainly instagram and virtue signalling stuff. He is very careful of his public image in this regard, and everytime he makes something substantial he makes sure everything is loud about it, because people will always notice more somebody who is louder. Basically a marketing machine with huge self validation issues, the guy “who blindly tries to look for anything hip just to be liked”, usual instagram star stuff, going for 5 mins on a sea shore posing as if he would been there all day cleaning up it, then posting it 5 times a day, and his staff making sure no one else posts anything about it. But sometimes the marketing machine slips and it turns out when he excuses himself – saying he is sick – from meeting a make a wish winner boy with cancer and goes to a friends fashion show instead

          1. This shows you really don’t know him at all.

          2. I congratulate you on your detailed personal knowledge of all of Lewis’ off track activities. I’m glad you know him so well and thanks for your personal insights.

            As someone who does not follow or know his every move, he seems to making a genuine effort to promote change.

    5. I really dislike this formulation of “F1 needs [X] more than [X] needs F1.” It is almost never true – it might have been true about Ferrari once, but I’d argue even that is no longer the case.

      It is certainly not true about a driver, not even one as successful and marketable as Hamilton. F1 has survived the departure of its superstars before and will do so again – there are always plenty of exciting youngsters for fans and sponsors to attach themselves to. People said the same thing about Schumacher, and yet the sport flourished in the years after his first retirement, to the point that his ill-advised comeback probably did more harm than good.

      In any case, F1 has at most three or four more years – and probably just two – before Hamilton hangs up his helmet for good. Those who really feel that his absence from F1 is unthinkable are going to have to get used to doing some thinking, and fairly soon.

      1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        6th January 2022, 8:07

        Certainly not true of any driver. F1 has always been very good at not relying on a particular driver to retain viewership. Even after Senna died I’m sure I recall reading that viewing figures were at record highs (at the time) in 1995.

        I don’t think the same can be said of other series. WRC has never recovered from the loss of Colin McRae, NASCAR’s viewing figures have really tailed-off since Dale Earnhardt Jr retired and I’m curious to see what will happen to Moto GP now Valentino Rossi has retired.

        At least Formula E doesn’t need to worry about this sort of thing, nobody is interested in the first place.

        1. “At least Formula E doesn’t need to worry about this sort of thing, nobody is interested in the first place.”

          Millions would disagree…

        2. Valentino had a number of diehard followers and conceivably the audience might take a hit from his retirement. But let’s be honest, Valentino was largely irrelevant for the sport and, having lost the ability, or the hunger, or both, should have retired 4-5 years ago.

      2. I don’t really like it, either.

        Overall, I suspect it would do more damage to F1 than to Hamilton should he choose to leave right now. As far as I am aware, he has many other irons in the fire, as well as a decent fortune on which to retire. He would probably miss the racing, but his life would go on.

        On the other hand, as far as I am aware, there are a decent number of Hamilton fans who would likely stop following the sport as they are more fans of him rather than the sport itself. Many of these are in the US, a market they are trying to attract fans from, so the loss of viewing figures over there would be damaging to F1.

        That said, this is all speculation, and both would survive either way. Neither really need the other, but both are benefitted by the other. And even so, I seriously doubt he will be leaving.

    6. Thank you to everyone who read my long season review and driver rankings about the 2021 season recently. All the kind replies I received encouraged me to follow up on Will Wood’s suggestion and write my own blog, although I have simply titled it ‘The F1 Frog Blog.’ So far I have added a report about sprint races, the Abu Dhabi final lap, and a couple of things about the BTCC. If you are interested, please have a look. Thank you.

    7. What a coincidence. If only Lewis could’ve foreseen racing against a Dutchman in car #33 again someday.

      1. We’ll have to wait a whole year to see that again.

    8. COTD is lying to himself. Stroll spent millions more than anybody has ever spent on F3 seasons, got the best of the best engineers (even people from F1!), Lawrence Stroll essentially bought Prema to ensure that everything was to his liking, and Prema had already been the dominant team, painfully so, the years before. Any comparison over the title winning season with George Russell in a HiTech is ludicrous.

      Yeah, Stroll has stopped being an embarressment. He’s almost a competent F1 driver. But he’s far from deserving, and it’s infuriating that his junior results are used to explain his inclusion in the pantheon of F1 drivers when his junior results are the direct result of never before seen investment in junior categories.
      There’s a reason he skipped F2 – it’s because F2 has no hiding. It’s too competitive. F3, with enough experience and money, can be gamed.

      1. Spot on comment! Fully agree!

    9. That picture from Giedo is cool. Did his number had anything to do with Max’s 33?

    10. That mural is also quite nice.

    11. I don’t get why Hamilton needs to make any contact with anyone on his break or has any obligation to interact with anyone through social medial. Some other drivers prefer not to do that either, so it is normal. If he wasn’t racing next year Mercedes would have made an announcement. So news outlets should leave everyone alone to do what they prefer until the next season. Instagram is not real life.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        6th January 2022, 14:08

        I was thinking maybe he and Toto do know the situation and just for once are keeping it all quiet ahead of pre-season testing February.

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