Kaltenborn dismayed by F1’s cost control outlook

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Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn is unsure how Formula 1 will tackle cost control in the future after little progress in a number of meetings and talks over the past few months.

The sport has seen costs spiral over the past few years, and it has put a number of teams at risk of folding. Sauber was beset with financial problems throughout the 2013 season, and although investment was secured to ensure its short-term future, the long-term outlook for the team is still uncertain. Lotus has been in a similar position for some time.

However, any efforts to keep costs down – be it through a cost cap or other measures – are continually blocked by the bigger teams in Formula 1, who have formed the F1 Strategy Group that now has a say in the governance of the sport. For Kaltenborn, it is a sorry state of affairs.

“In my view we are clearly not there, where we should be and where we wanted to be, at least from our team’s perspective,” she explained in yesterday’s team principals’ press conference. “I also don’t think we have achieved so far any measurable cost cutting.

“For us, the situation is a little unclear actually at the moment, at least in my understanding if you mention the World Motor Sport Council there was a decision taken last year by the council in which they endorsed cost-cutting as a target.

“They also agreed in principle to the cost cap and the FIA was mandated to implement that. Since then, other decisions have been taken by other groups going in a different direction.”

After the rejection of the cost cap earlier this year, the teams outside of the Strategy Group were tasked with coming up with an alternative. Despite doing so, Kaltenborn still feels that her voice is not being heard.

“The non-Strategy Group teams were asked to bring proposals in about how you can achieve a sustainable cost base while still promoting competition,” she said. “We did that, we also didn’t get anywhere on that.

“In my understanding, I really wonder what the FIA is now going to do and how Formula 1 is going to be governed in this respect.”

As I wrote in my Paddock Notebook from the Red Bull Ring yesterday, so long as the divide between the teams inside and outside of the Strategy Group remains, it appears that little progress will be made. Small steps are being taken, such as reducing test time and keeping it based in Europe, but this is not enough to help the ailing teams towards the back of the grid.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Sebastien Bourdais

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. A dream start occurred for Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing team upon their reunion, followed by a nightmare in Indianapolis with a huge crash in qualifying, and ended with a rapid recovery to build confidence for 2018.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: 14th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 24 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 11.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 21st Place (8 Starts), 1 Win, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 74 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 11.0 Avg. Finish

The 2017 campaign for Sebastien Bourdais upon his return to Dale Coyne Racing will forever be known as both a year of “what could have been” and a year of “what a comeback it was.”

The abnormal season for Bourdais stretched eight races with a three-month break in the middle owing to his own mistake qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture to his right hip. His car was a rocket ship; but after two laps at 231 mph, Bourdais appeared to over-correct and destroyed the wall at Turn 2 in Indy in a massive 127G impact. It was a horrific looking accident, but one that also saw Bourdais rather lucky to have not been injured worse.

It set forth in motion an incredible recovery that saw Bourdais back testing the Monday after Mid-Ohio, just over two months since the accident, then in race action just over three months later at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, and because Bourdais is a regulation badass, he finished in the top-10 straight out of the box. He worked as hard as he did to return earlier than anticipated to avoid an offseason of questions asking if he’d come back and if he’d be strong enough to do so.

The recovery was a welcome story to end the year after the agony at Indy that stopped a potential title run or certainly top-five in points finish in its tracks. A classic Coyne strategy special vaulted Bourdais from last to first and a popular win in his U.S. hometown of St. Petersburg to kick off the year. A second place at Long Beach backed it up and eighth at Barber kept him atop the standings.

But Indy was shaping up to be an important bounce back weekend after Bourdais got taken out in Phoenix, then incurred an engine failure in the IMS road course race. And then, of course, his loud and violent accident qualifying for the ‘500 changed the course of the season.

After three “almost there” but largely unfulfilling years at KV Racing Technology, Bourdais embraced the family atmosphere back at Coyne along with longtime engineers Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson, determined to continue punching above the team’s weight. He crafted a remarkable story all season and will be keen to fulfill it over the course of a proper full campaign in 2018.