F1: Teams getting back to business in Russia following tough weekend

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The Formula One fraternity has been keeping Jules Bianchi in their thoughts as he remains critical but stable in a Japanese hospital after his crash at Suzuka on Saturday night.

But they won’t have much more time to fully dwell on him, as F1 prepares for its inaugural Russian Grand Prix this weekend at Sochi Olympic Park.

After having to pack up quickly while absorbing the news regarding Bianchi – and while Typhoon Phanfone bore down upon Japan – teams and media are now migrating to the site of this year’s Winter Games to get an early start on preparations.

Meanwhile, several drivers have given their opening thoughts on the new Sochi Autodrom circuit and racing in Russia.

Last weekend’s third-place finisher, Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, regards the circuit as a more fluid version of the Marina Bay Street Circuit in Singapore with some sectors reminding him of Abu Dhabi and Korea in particular.

As with any new tracks, mistakes will likely be made as drivers get used to the course and figure out how far they can push it. But Vettel is also worried about Sochi’s surface.

“It will be quite slippery at the beginning of the weekend and I’m expecting a few driving errors, not only because the track is new for everyone, but also because the surface is still so green,” he said. “So it will be a while until we feel comfortable on the track.”

Meanwhile, Force India enters Sochi looking to extend their slim one-point lead over McLaren for fifth in the Constructor’s Championship. Both Force India men, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, have said that it will probably take 10 laps on the track before they can get a proper idea of things.

“Nobody knows the track so it will be the same situation for all of us,” said Perez. “We all start from zero.”

Certainly, it should be an intriguing affair by the Black Sea.

Formula One names Stefano Domenicali as its new CEO

Stefano Domenicali named F1 CEO
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Former Ferarri chief Stefano Domenicali was named the new president and CEO of F1, replacing Chase Carey in January 2021, Liberty Media announced Friday.

Domenicali, 55, will join Formula One from Lamborghini, where he had been CEO and president.

He worked on Ferrari’s F1 team for nearly 20 years, becoming the team principal in 2008. He left in 2014 and worked at Audi before joining Lamborghini.

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“I am thrilled to join the Formula 1 organization, a sport that has always been part of my life,” Domenicali said in a release. “I was born in Imola and live in Monza.  I’ve remained connected to the sport through my work with the Single Seater Commission at the FIA and I look forward to connecting with the teams, promoters, sponsors and many partners in Formula 1 as we continue to drive the business ahead.

“The past six years at Audi and then leading Lamborghini have given me broader perspective and experience that I will bring to Formula 1.”

Carey, who had led F1 since Liberty’s Formula One Group took control of the organization in 2017, will move to the role of non-executive chairman.

“Chase has done a phenomenal job leading F1,” Liberty Media President and CEO Greg Maffei said in a statement. “He assembled a first-class commercial and sporting organization that has a long list of achievements, including broadening the appeal of the sport, growing its digital presence, establishing new technical regulations, securing a cost cap for the first time and reaching a new more equitable Concorde agreement with the teams.  His actions have reinforced F1 as the pinnacle of motorsport.”

Said Carey: “It has been an honor to lead Formula 1, a truly global sport with a storied past over the last seventy years. I’m proud of the team that’s not only navigated through an immensely challenging 2020 but returned with added purpose and determination in the areas of sustainability, diversity and inclusion.  I’m confident that we’ve built the strong foundation for the business to grow over the long term.”