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Marchionne: Liberty must focus on making F1 more entertaining

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Ferrari president and CEO Sergio Marchionne believes that Formula 1 owner Liberty Media must focus on making the sport more entertaining and more accessible following its takeover.

Liberty completed its acquisition of F1 two weeks ago, with the arrival of new CEO Chase Carey, commercial chief Sean Bratches and sporting head Ross Brawn pointing towards a period of change for the sport.

Speaking in a Ferrari conference call with investors, Marchionne said that he expects F1 to do better through 2017 following the introduction of new technical regulations, but expects Liberty to push on and focus more on entertainment when considering the sport’s long-term future.

“What I expect, to be honest, is the sport itself to do better in 2017,” Marchionne said.

“I think there will be a great basis for us to continue and continue our commitment to Formula 1 and to really set the basis for a post-2020 world [upon the expiration of the Concorde Agreement].

“I expect Liberty, and Chase in particular, would have a very clear understanding of the fact that the entertainment side of this needs to come back into play.”

Marchionne added that Ferrari could not offer its long-term commitment to F1 if the sport’s audience was continuously in decline.

“We cannot keep on committing to a sport that has decreasing audiences for a variety of reasons,” Marchionne said.

“We need to re-popularize the sport and we need to make it more accessible.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done. We will do our part as the Scuderia in making sure that that happens, but that work needs to get underway in earnest now.”

Alexander Rossi’s Grand Prix of Alabama gamble fails to pay off

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Alexander Rossi bobbled for the first time in 2018 with an 11th-place finish in the Honda IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

And to add insult to injury, Rossi also lost the points lead as a result.

Rossi got off to about as great a start to the season as possible. He finished third at St. Petersburg and sat third in the standings. He finished third again at Phoenix and climbed to second in the points.

Rossi won the Long Beach Grand Prix after starting from the pole and leading 71 laps. That put him at the top of the standings after three races.

Then, as quickly as he climbed to the top, he got knocked down a spot after finishing off the podium for the first time in 2018.

Rossi not only missed the podium, he finished outside the top 10.

“We didn’t get the result that we wanted,” Rossi said after the race. “That remains a mystery. But at the end of the day it was about survival. We couldn’t make the tires last; we couldn’t really get a great fuel number.”

The biggest negative was the one factor that was mostly out of his control. Rossi gambled that he was facing only a brief shower when rain began to fall with about 15 minutes remaining. He was wrong.

“We tried to be pretty aggressive on the dry tires and stay out and survive the rain, hoping it would dry out,” Rossi said. “And it didn’t really work.

“Sometimes you’ll have those days.”