F1 owners deny they are “raping the sport”

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F1 owners CVC Capital Partners have responded to a furious attack from Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley.

During the Monaco Grand Prix weekend Fernley told The Sunday Times CVC “have raped the sport” and “done an absolutely awful job”.

Fernley questioned whether the economic conditions for smaller teams were deliberately being made unfavorable to hasten the introduction of customer cars, something Bernie Ecclestone is strongly in favor of.

Fernley added Force India support Williams team owner Frank Williams’ opposition to customer cars:

“It’s not just Frank. Once you bring in ‘customer teams’ you’ve lost the identity of Formula One. And you as a team have lost your identity. So you’re now just an appendage.

“There are four teams that have been given special privilege and those four teams would be the ones that are likely to supply the customer teams. So everything is now moving in the way of the four teams.”

However Fernley apologized for the harshness of his criticism following a discussion with CVC co-founder Donald Mackenzie.

“He said sorry, that he didn’t mean what he said, that he just wanted to get a headline,” said Mackenzie.

“I appreciate Bob and the middle-sized teams – and the smaller teams – have a tough job. They always have. Naturally, they are worried about next year with the new engines, plus other costs, and they think it unfair the big teams get more money.

“But that’s how it is. It’s a championship where you get paid more if you do well.”

Mackenzie added: “The teams get 65 per cent of the profits, we get 35 per cent, and we don’t take the money out of the company, so we are not taking it out of the sport. That’s incorrect.”

“As for engine costs, that’s not a CVC decision, it’s not a Bernie decision.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne