Ecclestone wins damages court case

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A High Court case involving the sale of Formula One has seen the judge, Justice Guy Newey, dismiss charges of an £85 million damages claim against Bernie Ecclestone. However, the court did still say the deal was corrupt.

Ecclestone was involved in the sale of F1 to CVC Capital Partners in 2005, and the issue at hand was whether the sale was “undervalued.” It was a claim made by lawyers for the German media group Constantin Medien, who argued the sale was agreed “without the normal and proper process” and for an undervalued price. They also sought the damages amount (£85m; 103m euros) in compensation, per the BBC.

Newey said the deal was corrupt and hadn’t found Ecclestone, 83, “reliable or truthful,” but did say Constantin Medien had not suffered a financial loss as a result.

The other major pending legal issue facing Ecclestone is the bribery charge, for an alleged bribe to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky. That trial begins in April.

On an unrelated note but one also related to Ecclestone, he has denied that Sainsbury’s departing CEO, Justin King, will replace him in running F1, in a story written by The Guardian’s Christian Sylt.

King is a known motor racing fan, but per the story, his primary focus is on furthering son Justin King’s career. The younger King reigned as champion of British Formula 3 in 2013.

Williams to wait until new year before making 2018 F1 driver decision

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Williams will wait until the new year before making an announcement regarding its Formula 1 driver line-up for the 2018 season.

Williams holds the final vacant seat in F1 for next year, with Felipe Massa retiring at the last race of the 2017 season in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.

The Brazilian’s departure has opened up a seat alongside Lance Stroll for 2018, which looked poised to be taken by Robert Kubica, over seven years after he last raced in F1 before injuries sustained in a rally accident appeared to cut his career short.

Doubts emerged about Kubica’s comeback following a test with Williams in its 2017-spec car in Abu Dhabi after the final race of the season, leading to Russian youngster Sergey Sirotkin becoming the favorite.

Besides Kubica and Sirotkin, ditched Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat is also an option, but Williams has now confirmed it will make no decision on its line-up until the new year.

Sirotkin first entered the frame in F1 in 2013 when he became a development driver at Sauber, with Russian backers SMP Racing pushing to get him a race seat for the following year.

Sirotkin missed out on a full-time role at the team, leading him to focus on racing in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2014 before spending two years in GP2, where he finished third in the standings in both seasons.

Renault struck an agreement to sign Sirotkin in a junior role in 2016, leading to a number of practice run-outs over the last two seasons, but he was passed over for a 2018 race seat when it signed Carlos Sainz Jr.

Williams emerged as an option for Sirotkin following a successful maiden test with the team in Abu Dhabi alongside Kubica, with talks now set to continue over the holiday period.

Sirotkin has not taken on a full-time race program this year, making just a single competitive appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with SMP Racing in the LMP2 class.

Sirotkin has also been involved in the development of the team’s BR Engineering-designed LMP1 car for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship season, and is likely to secure a seat should he miss out on the role at Williams.