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Report: Lawsuit against Ecclestone dismissed in N.Y. Supreme Court

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A $650 million lawsuit against Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been dismissed in New York Supreme Court according to a report from Autoweek‘s Christian Sylt.

In November of 2012, American group Bluewaters Communications Holdings filed the suit, arguing that it should have been sold the 47 percent stake in F1 that wound up going to private equity firm CVC in 2006.

Ecclestone faces charges of bribery over a $44 million payment to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, but while he’s admitted to making a payment in separate legal proceedings, he’s said that he did it because Gribkowsky was threatening to make allegations regarding his tax affairs.

Bluewaters states that it was the highest bidder for the aforementioned stake, noting that it was ready to pay an additional 10 percent above any legitimate offer from a potential buyer.

But Sylt reports that a justice of the New York Supreme Court, Eileen Bransten, has ruled against them, emphasizing that the claims involved in the lawsuit took place in Europe and that CVC’s own offer for the stake stated that it was governed by English law and thus, all claims coming out of it would be dealt with in English courts.

Said Bransten, according to Sylt: “…This action is not about a lost business venture in New York, but rather on allegations that an English citizen bribed a German citizen to compel a German bank to sell its interest in a Jersey company to an English company rather than another Jersey company.”

To be clear, Bransten does not appear to be referencing New Jersey. Sylt writes that Bluewaters was based on the island of Jersey, off the coast of England, at the time it made its offer for the F1 stake.

Ecclestone may have dodged a bullet in the U.S., but the British billionaire needs to dodge a few more in the months ahead. He recently stepped down from the board of directors for F1’s parent company ahead of his German bribery trial in April (although he will continue to run day-to-day operations).

Additionally, German media firm Constantin Medien – a former stakeholder in F1 – sued him last fall in London for more than $100 million, alleging that Ecclestone’s sale to CVC undervalued the property and lost them money in the process.

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Gabby Chaves

Gabby Chaves
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MotorSportsTalk continues its run through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 15th and the rookie-of-the-year for 2015, was Gabby Chaves.

Gabby Chaves, No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport Honda

  • 2014: Indy Lights champion
  • 2015: 15th Place, Best Finish 9th, Best Start 12th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 31 Laps Led, 19.3 Avg. Start, 14.4 Avg. Finish

Some drivers finish better than their performances show. Some drivers have performances better than their results show. The latter statement applied to Gabby Chaves in his rookie year, in what was an impressive first season after making the step up from Indy Lights, which deservedly earned him rookie-of-the-year honors.

The best comparison I’d make for Gabby is of Josef Newgarden in 2012 with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, a first-year driver on a single-car, newish team to the series.

Chaves rarely dazzled in qualifying but that wasn’t his fault; he and engineer John Dick worked well together and Chaves recounted multiple times this year that a tweak here or tweak there, the wrong way, on the aero kit would send them down the wrong setup path.

Results in races didn’t measure up either but again that was through almost no fault of his own. The only time Chaves looked truly like a rookie was at St. Pete, when he had several collisions. Otherwise he was ahead of eventual winner James Hinchcliffe at NOLA before getting punted off, reliable through the month of May in Indianapolis, finally able to break through for a ninth place in Detroit race two, overachieving in Texas, 11th at Milwaukee after some great wheel-to-wheel racing with series winners and champions, and then phenomenal at Pocono as he was on course for a first career win or podium before late-race engine issues – his first DNF of the season.

For both Chaves and Herta, you’d love to see them together for another season, and the results and confidence for both parties will grow as a result. Those who’ve seen Newgarden’s rise over four years with Fisher and now CFH will note the long-term stability, and that’s what Chaves could do if he gets the time.

He planted the seed of being a great IndyCar driver, and he became pretty versatile during the year too with additional appearances in the DeltaWing prototype, a short-track midget and one of Herta’s Red Bull Global Rallycross cars. To boot, he’s a smart, great kid who is mature beyond his years, and someone you should be buying stock in now. Anyone who saw Chaves in the Mazda Road to Indy should not have been surprised by his rookie season in the big cars.

Off The Grid: Monza preview (premieres Saturday 10/10 on NBCSN)

F1 Grand Prix of Italy
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Having already taken you behind the scenes in Barcelona, Budapest, Singapore, Melbourne and Silverstone, Will Buxton and Jason Swales now head to one of Formula 1’s most iconic venues for the latest episode of Off The Grid.

Monza has appeared in all but one F1 season since the formation of the world championship in 1950, and is a firm favorite among drivers, teams and fans alike.

However, there is far more to the Italian Grand Prix than meets the eye, as we find out in Saturday’s premiere of Off The Grid: Monza at 9:30am ET (follows Russian GP qualifying).

Having honed his talents in go-karts as a kid, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo is now trying to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of racers. But can he teach Will or Jason a thing or two?

We also catch up with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and get a feel for life on the road as he takes us for a tour of his lavish bus in which he travels in for the European F1 races.

Have you ever wondered just how the suits F1 drivers wear are made? We go behind the scenes at Alpine Stars’ factory in Italy and find out.

Off The Grid: Monza premieres on Saturday at 9:30am ET on NBCSN following Russian GP qualifying.