Albon’s 18-inch tyre testing experience will be of “limited value” to Williams

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In the round-up: Alexander Albon’s experience of testing Pirelli’s 18-inch tyres for Red Bull will be of limited use to Williams, despite the team not having run the new rubber yet.

In brief

Albon’s tyre test experience of “small value” to Williams

Williams was unable to participate in last year’s development tests of the 18-inch rubber as it did not produce a ‘mule car’ to run them. Albon, who has moved to the team having been Red Bull’s reserve driver last year, has tested them, but Robson says that won’t help them make up much of their shortfall in experience.

“In terms of information that will help us, I think that might be of limited value because we don’t know the details of the Red Bull car that did the tyre testing,” Robson said. “Clearly that’s important from how you prepare the tyres and how much downforce they need to work with.

“He may have a few useful bits of information or some ideas but I think in reality it’s probably of fairly small value. Plus, of course, [they’re] quite rightly quite limited what he can say about that car and the test they were doing, that’s kind of not any of our business, really, that’s Red Bull’s data.”

Robson says that the team have prepared an extensive programme to help Albon acclimatise at his new team for 2022.

“We’ve got that programme more or less sketched out for his time in the factory,” he said. “Obviously he’s got a lot of people to meet and do the normal seat fit work and make sure that he’s going to be comfortable in the car. We’ve then got a fairly extensive simulator programme lined up. So Nicholas [Latifi] has already kicked off some of that work for [the FW44] in the simulator along with the other drivers who do the simulator work. But that programme is well underway and Alex will join it for real in January.”

Formula 2 and Formula 3 share opening test date

Formula 2 and Formula 3 will test together at Bahrain International Circuit on March 2nd to 4th. The series have also confirmed their testing dates at Jerez and the Circuit de Catalunya in April.

Add the F2 and F3 2022 race and test calendars to your mobile device here:

Domenicali sent fake dead dog by PETA in protest

Animal rights activist group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) UK sent Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali a stuffed dog toy marked with fake blood in a bizarre protest over F1 owner Liberty Media’s links to the Iditarod.

The group announced that it had sent a “dead dog prop” to Domenicali’s residence along with a letter to ask the CEO and president of Formula 1 to encourage Liberty Media to end sponsorship of the annual Alaska-based dog-sledding race through their GCI brand. F1 has no connection with the race or GCI beyond their shared ownership by Liberty Media.

The Iditarod is an annual race in which teams of dogs pull sleds over hundreds of miles across the snow-covered state, with the competition lasting for several days. According to the Humane Mushing organisation, over half of the 796 dogs entered in the 2020 Iditarod race dropped out after being unable to continue.

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Comment of the day

How can Lance Stroll’s abilities and credentials to be on the F1 grid be assessed when his own father is heavily involved in the ownership of the Aston Martin team? Reader @ajayrious believes Stroll’s junior formulae achievements deserve more recognition:

I feel like the suggestion that Stroll wouldn’t be in F1 if his father wasn’t paying for it (or owner of the team) is erroneous given his junior record.

In fact Stroll probably would be a better driver without quite so much of his fathers money. He wouldn’t have been promoted far too early to a Williams team that wasn’t capable of nurturing him and his talent. Instead he would have gone on and done GP3, GP2/F2 and learned his craft a bit more.

When you look at a driver like Mazepin for example, who comes from a very similar background and backing. The difference is obvious in the two’s talent level. Mazepin despite all his father’s money still managed to spend 10 years in junior formulae being unsuccessful before his father all-but-bought a team for him to drive for. Stroll however took his father’s money and succeeded, winning championships and earning an albeit far too early call from Williams.

I’m not saying that in the same team Stroll would suddenly start beating Lewis or Max, but he definitely deserves better than to be thrown into the huge no talent pay-driver maelstrom that Mazepin and Zhou are part of.
@ajayrious

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Michael Roberts!

On this day in motorsport

  • On this day in 1977 reigning world champion James Hunt put his McLaren on pole position for the season-opening race at Buenos Aires in Argentina

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  • 62 comments on “Albon’s 18-inch tyre testing experience will be of “limited value” to Williams”

    1. RandomMallard
      8th January 2022, 0:34

      Wish the very best for those Miami marshalls. Good luck to them all.

      Agree with Brown, there needs to be a wider look at the regs. Things like Raikonnen’s penalty in Imola, which while technically the right decision under the regulations (which were full of contradictions between whether a red flag restart lap followed formation lap procedure or safety car procedure for example), seemed a bit nonsensical.

      Like the look of that GB3 car (for anyone who isn’t aware, GB3 was British F3 before the FIA told them to stop calling it F3), and good news about that new F4 series as well.

      Very different takes on animal rights awareness there from Guenther vs PETA!!!

      Not sure how much I buy into that Porsche and Audi story to be honest. I could definitely see one of them supplying Red Bull, McLaren I’m not so sure about.

      1. McLaren I’m not so sure about.

        As per the story (which I find well argued) it’s all about the automotive part needing a rescue and the racing arm moving along with it.
        A bit like the tail wagging the dog.

    2. Very interesting developments if the Audi and Porsche deals go ahead. I’ve had considerable doubt about RedBull going into the engine design and manufacturing business. A lot of out lay with limited or no way to re-coup costs.
      The McLaren sale is to be more expected as they are fragile finacially and offers a solid platform of historical success and recently a revamped and well run team to build on.

      1. Davethechicken
        8th January 2022, 10:34

        Excuse my naivety, but are Audi and Porsche not simply sub divisions of VAG? Ergo would VAG not be entering competing teams?

        1. @Davethechicken Yes they are I think the McLaren sells mainly in the luxury sports car market and sees their main competitors as Aston Martin / Lagonda, Ferrari, Lamborghini. Porsche is more a ‘pure’ sports car.

        2. They are technically both sub-brands of VAG, but one of them (I can’t remember for sure, but I think it’s Porsche) retains quite a lot of independence still. It’s not uncommon for them to be entering competing teams either, they do it in the GT categories and did in LMP1 and Formula E, and are planning separate entries in LMDh as well.

          1. Davethechicken
            8th January 2022, 15:02

            After I posted I was wracking my memory, if Audi and Porsche overlapped the same years lmp1 at 24h Le Mans. Good old wiki revealed they did from 2014 to 2016.

      2. @johnrkh Unless things have changed, and I’m not aware they have, RBR want to be making their own power units at their own RBR Powertrain Unit for the 2026 season and onwards. With the staff they have already accumulated which will no doubt grow in size and ability, their goal is to be a totally-under-one-roof factory works team.

        When CH first made the announcement regarding their Powertrain Unit, he spoke of heading towards independence. He also said that if a partner came along that would make sense for them to pursue they would of course consider that and do their due diligence, but ultimately that is not the main goal. They have no interest in being a customer team to someone else’s power units ala Renault. Their relationship with Honda has been much closer to a works factory setup, but still not as ‘works’ as it could be. That starts with the new Powertrain Unit.

        So for me this speculation of Audi or Porsche supplying RBR is just that…speculation. Put another way, imho if Audi or Porsche end up working with RBR it will have to be them bringing their expertise and personnel to RBR’s Powertrain Unit. There is no way, from what I can gather up to today, that RBR are going to be buying Audi or Porsche power units that are made somewhere else, and shipped to their facilities to be married to their chassis’. We’ve known since 2014 that formula doesn’t work with complex power units whose marriage to chassis’ has never been more crucial.

        I don’t understand your comment about there being no way to recoup the outlay for the Powertrain Unit. Caps have ensured RBR can only spend so much, and we know they have access to hundreds of millions, so money should not be the issue. At a minimum they’ll make units for themselves and AT. They may even sell units to customer teams. But meanwhile they will be ensuring themselves maximum marketing value by not being a customer team, and rather by maximizing their positions on the grid. It’s all just the cost of going racing, and those costs are restricted now.

        So…recoup costs? Yeah I think they do that in spades when you consider the likes of Mercedes say they glean 1 to 1.5 billion a year in marketing value for being in F1. RBR will be consistently at or near the top in terms of Constructor winnings too. The very fact they have built and are building up their new Powertrain Unit tells me they have an exact plan and would not have done this without knowing what they are in for and how the finances will work. And this will all be amortized over numerous years, with as good a chance as any other team that they will be Championship years to boot, with all the marketing weight that will carry.

        RBR are stepping into the upper echelon of F1 along with Mercedes and Ferrari by become their own independent entity, and that is because of their new Powertrain Unit. They haven’t built that to remain customers to someone else’s power units, which would ensure a good chance they struggle to keep up with all-in-house Mercedes and Ferrari.

        1. @johnrkh Just to extend this a bit further, if I’m Audi/Porsche/VAG I’m interested more in entering F1 as a full works team that also will be ready willing and able to supply a customer with power units at the same time. Why? Because they know that just supplying a team with power units is a guarantee that said customer(s) will not be winning Championships. Customers cannot beat factory teams in the hybrid era of F1. Sure A/P/VAG would still get marketing value for being in F1 as a pu maker, but they could do so much more given their vast resources and given their hands are forced anyway to spend much less in F1 than has been the case for decades.

        2. @robbie Perhaps it’s not prudent to take what Cristian Horner says as gospel. If I remember correctly Horner was not told about Honda shutting shop until just before it became public, Dietrich Mateschitz and Helmet Marko knew sometime before that. I would say Horner’s influence and thoughts are retricted to the running of the F1 team.
          Remember I did say if.

          I don’t understand your comment about there being no way to recoup the outlay for the Powertrain Unit. Caps have ensured RBR can only spend so much, and we know they have access to hundreds of millions, so money should not be the issue. At a minimum they’ll make units for themselves and AT. They may even sell units to customer teams. But meanwhile they will be ensuring themselves maximum marketing value by not being a customer team, and rather by maximizing their positions on the grid. It’s all just the cost of going racing, and those costs are restricted now.

          Well I think the cost of developing an F1 power unit is heading towards 1.5 billion Euros?
          With no guarantee of success no company no matter how well placed financially would want to go into the F1 PU business without some way of recouping at least some of the costs. Mercedes and Ferrari have the ability to recoup some or most of the cost by selling their PUs to to other teams. They also benefit from the reflected glory on their road cars. For RB to do the same it would necessitate one or more of the other suppliers to leave, which is possible after 2026.
          So who do you think will go?
          The owners of RB are not silly and I’ve questioned several times what would RB gain from developing their own PU? If someone like Porsche or Audi were to offer them a good deal, and a top PU capable of challenging for wins. Why would RB outlay so much money themselves and risk failure? Neither Porsche nor Audi would be interested in joining unless they knew that they had a good chance of winning and gaining positive publicity for their products. So if they are knocking on RBs door I would think Dietrich Mateschitz would be happy to talk.
          All still speculation and rumours though :)

    3. I wonder what happens if Audi buy McLaren, would that be the end of the McLaren brand? Would Audi value the name or would they rather be the ones lapping up all the glory?

      1. I would think they’d keep the name.

      2. @skipgamer Audi-McLaren / McLaren-Audi. Add a fifth papaya ring to their F1 logo…

        1. Add a fifth papaya ring to their F1 logo…

          Five rings could become too wide I think.
          – Maybe better to stack them; e.g. two at the bottom and three interlaced on top.
          Papaya, or any single colour, in today’s society is too polemic.
          – Maybe give each ring a different colour; e.g. blue, yellow, black, green and red.

          1. That logo might confuse viewers into thinking they were watching a close, competitive and respectful sport. One open to people from all nations, and with consistent and strictly enforced rules! :-)

            1. Davethechicken
              8th January 2022, 18:38

              Lol

          2. bruh, it’s a joke

      3. Given how they have worked with Lamborghini so far within the VW group, I would rather expect them to keep the name and work together, so that the future McLarens will likely have more Audi/Lambo tech in them, but also there will be transfer of know how from McLaren to those brands as well as to porsche so they can share battery, electronics, carbon fibre, etc. knowledge to make more cars.

    4. RE COTD
      You were comparing Stroll and Mazepin and how their fathers influenced their promotion to F1 and then suddenly you just brought Zhou out of a hat.

    5. With so many years before Audi and Porsche enter F1 I see plenty of time for them to later pull out before they even set foot on any F1 track.

      1. RandomMallard
        8th January 2022, 9:29

        I’m not an expert in sports law so I don’t know if this is possible/legal, but could the FIA make it so that once you announce to enter as a team/engine supplier and officially confirm it with the FIA, you’re under a legally bound contract that you can’t leave unless both sides (i.e. the team and F1/FIA) agree, or you face a significant penalty? For example, if you sign up to a Concorde Agreement, you’re legally bound to remain in the sport for the duration of that CA, and you face big penalties if you make a unilateral decision to leave. As I say, I don’t know if this is possible, but it’s an interesting thought imo.

        Reminds me of the European Super League in football in a way.

        1. @RandomMallard I would think at this early stage a binding contract would not be in the mix. More of a handshake agreement to continue negotiations.

    6. Another total fallacy on Stroll being promoted as COTD. What’s Lawrence paying you, @keithcollantine?

      1. RandomMallard
        8th January 2022, 9:30

        @hahostolze

        What’s Lawrence paying you?

        Probably Otmar’s old salary ;-)

    7. Did I read well that Audi is going to buy Mc Laren? Isn’t that a major headline?

      1. @ldom the article is speculating about Audi bidding for McLaren, but then contains the important statement that none of this activity has yet been approved by the board of directors of the VW Group.

        1. Or perhaps ever been thought of.

          1. OOliver, quite – I do retain a similar level of scepticism, given that we’ve had multiple instances of the VW supposedly being on the cusp of entering the sport, only for all of those supposed entries to have come to nothing.

        2. Indeed Anon. So far the information does not tell us much more than what we already knew in early december (that WAS a bit of a scoop) – i.e. Audi ARE talking to McLaren, and VW IS having the board vote on F1 entry for both or at least one of these two brands.

          But until they sign off, no talks age going to go further than exploration of the options, and possibly the approximate price ranges.

          1. @bascb it is worth noting that earlier reports do also suggest that it might be premature to assume that the deal is “as good as done”, which is what some are claiming.

            Back in mid November, when the Financial Times was reporting that the VW Group was opening discussions with McLaren and was investigating a possible F1 entry, they stated that, back then, “Discussions are at a very early stage, with few firm details and no due diligence expected until early next year”. The author of that piece, Peter Campbell, later reported that due diligence activities are not scheduled to take place until spring this year.

            If their talks have stuck to that programme and, even with favourable outcomes, due diligence operations are not due to start for at least another three months, that doesn’t sound to me like the deal is “as good as done” – that suggests to me that it is much closer to your interpretation, which is that they’re exploring their options, but that a final decision is still some way down the line.

      2. Yeah, one random article linked without any other supporting articles and it’s gonna be speculation. You can bet if it actually happens, the site will be plastered with articles about it

        1. Yet it does sure sound like they will enter one way or another this time, and let’s face it F1 is far different now particularly in terms of costs to be in it, than when VAG last considered and rejected F1. Far different. Eg. Who in their right mind would have entered upon seeing the BE/CVC money grab, and/or the Mercedes stranglehold since 2014, and expected to have their huge sums of money spent, put to competitive effect?

          1. How is the stranglehold different? Merc won the last 8 or something including 2021. The drivers is secondary to the constructors. The sport is also a lot more expensive and demands much greater staff than other times VW has thought about entering. You don’t think the Merc domination will continue?

            1. I guess you missed the fact that there are now budget caps as well as fairer money distribution amongst the teams. So no the sport is not more expensive and requiring greater staff than other times VW has talked of entering. Certainly not in the long run after initial expenses start being amortized anyway.

              As to Mercedes domination continuing, well we just saw them just squeak through this time with the WCC, so domination seems to already be waning for them, and as to the new chapter, who knows for now, but we can say that this time everyone’s power units will be fairly close to each other. The new chapter is simply not designed to have a team dominate for a long stretch of time. Mercedes may dominate again next year for all I know, but none of us know, and it can be said in general that the odds of any one team utterly dominating, especially for many seasons in a row, are going to be much less than the past, with this new chapter, imho.

              The drivers is secondary to the Constructors? Sure, for some, particularly those that will benefit from the extra prize money the higher up in the Constructors they place, but for many it is the drivers titles that matters more. Neither here nor there when it comes to the discussion of the difference from now to the past in terms of the likes of VW entering F1 or not.

          2. @robbie that would be the same VW Group which was also cited as being in talks to enter F1 in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2019, to give you just a few times when such rumours have swirled around the sport.

            This site itself has reported more than a few times on claims that a VW Group entry was coming in the future – for example, back in 2011, they were running a story about the VW Group considering entering F1 in 2018, which obviously never came to pass.

            1. And again, that was then and this is now.

    8. Those F3 cars of today are such an eyesore. They should be banned for being too ugly.
      They are so disproportionate, it looks like somebody has tried to draw an F1 car but failed miserably.
      Especially the fugly nose – it hurts to look at, especially compared to what it could look like and did 50 years ago:
      https://primotipo.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/image.jpg

      1. Modern F1 has their fair share of visual faux pas too @amian.
        Talk about disproportionate – how about the current size of an F1 car.
        Computers, marketing departments and legal teams design cars now – not artists, like they did 50 years ago.

        Actually, it’s easy to find any car from 50 years ago that looks better than its modern counterpart.
        Smaller, lighter, simpler, more nimble, more relatable and cheaper, and built exclusively for one thing and one thing only – racing.

        1. @S
          “Modern F1 has their fair share of visual faux pas too @amian.”
          – F1 cars are ugly, but that doesn’t help F3, does it?

          Talk about disproportionate – how about the current size of an F1 car.
          – Their length (not anything else) is ridiculous. But again, it doesn’t make F3s look any better, does it?

          Computers, marketing departments and legal teams design cars now – not artists, like they did 50 years ago.
          – But they only design within the regulation boundries imposed by the championship organizer.
          F1 has millions of ugly winglets, because they are allowed. F1 doesn’t have Star Trek wings because they were banned in 2005 or when was it, similarly those super high ironing board noses etc.

          The 2022 F1 cars will not look drastically different because of the F1 designers, but because of FIA’s rule change.

          1. You compared F3 to F1, I just went along with it.
            Personally, I find the F3 cars better looking than F1. Perhaps better in almost every other way, too, seeing as these are supposed to be racing cars, not time trial cars.
            I’d say F1 car length is ridiculous too, but width is also excessive. If the cars were physically smaller in every dimension, they’d still look ‘in proportion’ with themselves, and they’d race together better as a bonus.

            I totally agree – the F1 technical regs are terrible for encouraging or even forcing all this ugly garbage.
            But most of those bits and pieces on the cars are there and look the way they do because of how they were designed. If the cars were designed the same way as they were 50 years ago, even with the current regs, they wouldn’t look like they do – nor would the regs have adapted in the way they have over that time.

            The 2022 cars will indeed look essentially the same, because F1 marketing and management don’t want a revolution. They fear that will be too aggressive and divisive. Better to drip feed change through evolution rather than revolution.

      2. I, respectfully, disagree. I quite like this new F3 car. I think it’s an improvement on the last specification nonetheless, in my opinion. I still have never found out what those big sticky-out bits on the left hand side are (didn’t the Euro F3 cars have them as well?). My best guess is an air intake but if someone would enlighten me that would be much appreciated!

        1. @RandomMallard
          Those bits serve as air intakes and regulated air restrictors. I’ve never been able to find out why it’s only F3 that uses them, while no other formula needs to even though they probably also do things to level out the field.

          1. amian Looking at the car, they looked quite small in a vertical direction, and don’t appear to have any substantial airbox above the driver’s head like an F1, F2 or International F3 car, instead just having a roll hoop. Having looked at photos of the old Euro F3 car, they also didn’t have an airbox above the driver’s head, so I’d assume that’s the reasoning behind it.

            What’s also interesting is how long they’ve had these air intakes, with them being around since at least the 1970s.

            1. @RandomMallard
              Wow, so that’s (at least) 50 years of using those devices. That’s extremely peculiar!

    9. What did the the Sun article say about Lewis? I’m interested to know but there is not a chance I’m providing that publication with any advertising revenue

      1. @djarvis Completely agree. And in answer to your question, I would it’s exactly what you’d expect, along the lines of “he was wronged, went silent and everyone’s confused but *shock*, he’s probably coming back”.

        Also out of interest, if you don’t mind me asking, do you happen to have any association with Liverpool (the city or the football club), bc I know they aren’t the greatest fans of The Sun…

        1. @randommallard

          So they basically reported something that has been reported for weeks for clicks, makes sense.

          I’m from North Wales which is geographically and culturally (sometimes) close to the City of Liverpool. Although I have no links with the football club I support their stance when it comes to the sun as well as others for all the awful “reporting” that rag has done over the years

      2. @djarvis The report’s one bit of actual ‘information’ is that Hamilton and Mercedes are ‘communicating.’ Which the paper seems to think is a sign that he might return. Huge news, obviously not.

        One thing’s certain, Hamilton made the right option to go radio quiet. Maybe he quickly decided he’ll return in 2022 or even decided he’s leaving, but either way, announcing that news immediately after the decision would be taken as (a: stay) vindication of the Abu Dhabi farce or (b: leave) miffed that he lost the championship. So delaying his response was a sound ploy. The most likely scenario, that he wanted and maybe still wants to ponder the decision, also benefits from keeping quiet, as anything he says will be endlessly analysed in the motor racing world, making it more awkward for him to take an opposite stance or change mind later, plus the media noise would cloud his decision.

        I’ve been thinking about this on and off ever since the season ending. I don’t think Hamilton should continue if he thinks Formula 1’s integrity was compromised by the way Abu Dhabi ended. Why? Because he’ll be suspicious that however well he drives, races and even championships may be decided again in what he sees as a cynically contrived way. It would be better to retire now, dignity intact, and let Formula 1 face the consequences of what it allowed to happen. Certainly the sport will suffer more. However much it wants to be a show, it requires legitimacy as a sport. Having it’s most successful ever driver retire because he thinks it’s no longer a real sport would be hugely damaging. It only makes sense for Hamilton to continue if he wants to race and enjoys the racing. But maybe he will put 2021 out of his mind and refocus, if so fine. Perhaps he should.

        That doesn’t mean we have to accept it. I’m still stuck between the version that Masi was simply out of his depth and succumbed to Red Bull pressure and a more cynical version that Masi was also pressured by other elements beyond the teams to allow the race to restart when – and this is the crucial bit – had the situation been reversed, Hamilton had pitted and Verstappen stayed out, the race wouldn’t have restarted. Can we ever know? Probably not. More likely is that Masi was ‘trained’ from the outset of his race director career to focus on ‘show’ whenever possible, which is indeed what we’ve seen in countless decisions since he took over from Whiting. So the strings that needed pulling to make him restart the race probably only needed subtle tugs, nothing particularly blatant.

        1. I’m getting to no longer feel in the season finish, but this really is comment of the season @david-br

          1. I’ve no idea what I was trying to say in the first part of that sentence (damned autocorrect), but you get the picture.

            1. Thanks @kartguy07 ! I get what you mean, I’m kind of over it too. But it’s still obviously a story given Lewis hasn’t yet announced any decision.

        2. @david-br

          I’m still stuck between the version that Masi was simply out of his depth and succumbed to Red Bull pressure and a more cynical version that Masi was also pressured by other elements beyond the teams to allow the race to restart

          I find myself in a similar position. I’m generally not too cynical of a person, so I’m leaning more towards incompetence than malice. However, I can understand the argument why some may think there was a wider plan going on.

          On another note, I also try to be quite careful with what I write because what some people are saying may technically cross the line to libel/defamation against Liberty, RB and the FIA (particularly accusations of corruption, fixing or other illegal activity), and in both the UK and France (where the FIA is based so where I’d assume a case could be brought) the burden of proof in libel/defamation cases is on the defendant to prove what they’re saying is true, which as you say, is something we’ll likely never fully know. Please note, I’m not a lawyer, so I may be entirely wrong, but I do find this kind of stuff interesting and have done a little bit of research on it before.

          For example, I saw a video the other day (that was obviously clickbait and not worth taking seriously) that was saying that between the Abu Dhabi farce and the “I’m going to offer you a deal” message in Saudi Arabia (which, while being a bad look, is being slightly over-exaggerated imo), proves there must have been a deal between the FIA and RB to give Max the championship at any cost. Under my (again, not a lawyer) understanding of the law, that is technically libellous and the FIA could probably sue if they wanted to (which is unlikely, it’s a small Youtuber with only a couple of thousand of views), and unless the Youtuber could prove there was a deal, he would probably lose the case (or more realistically, be sent a cease-and-desist letter by the FIA, take the video down, maybe pay a small bit of money or issue a retraction before it ever went to court).

          1. RandomMallard – I presume the ‘worst’ version is still no more than a convergence of interests – not in Hamilton or Mercedes’ favour – rather than any actual corruption. I don’t think FIA were systematically in favour of Red Bull (some tyre and tyre-pressure decisions over the season favoured Mercedes). They did systematically favour Verstappen’s style of driving, but that didn’t have any real impact on the final race and, arguably, their decision to reel in some of Max’s ‘exuberance’ after Saudi Arabia assisted Hamilton in Abu Dhabi when he was allowed to keep position on the opening lap after going off track.

            It all really comes down to those mad last few laps in Abu Dhabi when Masi very definitely lost the plot, forgetting safety car procedures he himself has insisted on in previous races, when he came under intense pressure. For me there were two major issues. First, Mercedes made their decision not to pit based on established SC protocol. Masi must have known that when he decided to break that protocol. Was that fair? Clearly not. Second, he must have also known that he was essentially giving Verstappen the race win and championship, free. The equivalent of a penalty in football with the goalkeeper told to stand next to one of the posts. I mean, missable, but completely unlikely. So was that fair? Again, clearly not. You can argue that life and sport are unfair, sure, but not when you yourself are breaking protocol, as Masi did, to make the situation happen. That’s why, in my view, he deserves all the criticism he received. You can make a bad mistake, but knowingly breaking safety car protocols to knowingly give one competitor a huge advantage. That’s simply terrible judgment.

            1. @david-br Another great comment btw.

              I agree that what Masi did was absolutely ridiculous and that he created an absolute farce, and that he deserves a lot criticism for it.

              That’s where I forgot to make an important distinction in my comment, and that’s the fact that criticism (within reason) is classed as opinion and therefore not libellous. It’s a problem however if you’re presenting it as a fact. For example “this shows there was an agreement between the FIA and RB” would probably be libellous. If you put “I think”, or “in my opinion” before it, your probably in the clear.

              And also none of what I have said so far could apply for Liberty if they sued in an American Court, their standards are very different, and would require Liberty to prove the accusation was false, unlike France and the UK where it is the other way around.

              (BTW I’m not accusing you of anything wrong here, your original comment just gave me an interesting thought about this).

            2. Thanks, I know what you mean, I have read wilder theories and don’t share them, though I share some of the displeasure about the end of the season.

              Simply put, I don’t think Hamilton deserved that treatment in Abu Dhabi. He’s given a huge amount to the sport over his time in Formula 1, as even Ecclestone always admitted, increasing its popularity hugely. He has always tried to race fair, and he has tried to be an agent for positive change in the sport and beyond. So it seems kind of demeaning to Formula 1 that Masi and FIA would really cause (or engender) such a meritless finale and refuse to apologise for the mess they made. They may have wanted to finish the race ‘going racing’ but it was as farcical as their Spa race, another low point. There’s a fundamental dishonesty in both incidents, even if it’s just being dishonest about their own failures.

            3. Simply put, I don’t think Hamilton deserved that treatment in Abu Dhabi.

              Hamilton didn’t receive any “treatment,” @david-br. He just lost the race by being slower on the track. A victim of circumstance and poor strategy.

              So it seems kind of demeaning to Formula 1 that Masi and FIA would really cause (or engender) such a meritless finale and refuse to apologise for the mess they made.

              In your opinion…
              The FIA’s role is to apply Race Control and Direction at their discretion. That’s exactly what they did. You neither have to like it nor agree with it for it to be legitimate.
              Given all the circumstances (that we know of) behind ‘that’ decision (the influence and wishes of the teams themselves creating rule interpretations leading to desired outcomes, plus those of the unfortunate but necessary commercial interests) it’s clear to see why the race ended the way it did. Take away any hurt feelings and the logic is completely understandable.
              Unpopular, perhaps – but nevertheless, understandable.
              They do not need to apologise for making the right call in those particular circumstances.

              It’s comments like these which continue to persist that make me think FIA’s statement regarding misunderstanding is correct.
              The FIA is the law here. They make the rules and they apply them. The end.
              Don’t like it? You know what to do. Complaining won’t change it – they only count your attendance, your viewership and your money.

              This holier-than-thou attitude some have regarding F1 is tiresome. F1 is made up of humans and insane amounts of money – it really is no surprise that it is the way it is. Expectations of ‘purity’ are wildly unrealistic.

          2. Also please don’t take this as a vindication of the FIA btw. What happened in Abu Dhabi absolutely was a farce and completely wrong and stupid, its just a take on how far criticism of the FIA can legally go. In a libel trial, the law doesn’t care whether it was fair, it is there to judge whether the specific accusation in question is true, and if not, whether it constitutes libel/defamation.

    10. Oh Peta…

    11. I’m one of those doubting Thomases that will only believe that a VW brand is in F1 once I see their car or power unit on the grid. Ok, once they’ve signed an actual contract.

      1. I get where that sentiment is coming from but if I’m VAG I’m realizing that the atmosphere in F1 is now far far more conducive for the likes of them to join. With this new chapter in F1 it will have gone from VAG previously considering (and rejecting) spending hundreds of millions of dollars with little hope of toppling Mercedes in any reasonable time frame, to spending far far less, and actually having a much better chance to quickly becoming a top competitive in-house factory works team which we know has become a necessary ingredient for success in F1.

        1. VAG previously considering (and rejecting) spending hundreds of millions of dollars with little hope of toppling Mercedes in any reasonable time frame

          @robbie I’m not so sure about this. Eddie Jordan reported on 18th September 2015 (that date it important) that VW were close to buying Red Bull, and this was a rumour/story that had been suggested for a few months by that point (and EJ had a bit of a reputation for being pretty accurate; he was one of the first to report on Lewis to Mercedes for example). It’s said that VW were set to sign that deal the following week.

          18th September 2015 was quite a significant date for VW in another way as well. It was the same day the Environmental Protection Agency issued a Notice of Violation against VAG over dieselgate. As a result, it was more likely that dieselgate (and VAG’s subsequent, now reversed, withdrawal from all petrol-powered motorsports) that stopped them from joining this current engine formula, not the costs involved.

          1. RandomMallard Hard to know the truth based on rumours, but suffice it to say if they were that close and only dieselgate stopped them, then there should be nothing stopping them from entering now. I just don’t think they’ll be doing it by buying RBR, or at least I’m not aware of even any rumours of that, let alone something more substantial than that. And if costs weren’t the issue then, then that certainly shouldn’t be a barrier now.

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