Karthikeyan: F1 completely unsustainable for small teams

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Former Formula 1 driver Narain Karthikeyan has given his damning opinion on the cost crisis currently engulfing the sport, saying that it is simply too expensive for small teams such as Caterham and Marussia to survive.

Karthikeyan raced for the now-defunct HRT F1 Team between 2011 and 2012, taking part in its final grand prix at the end of the 2012 season and working amid the steady demise of the operation in Spain.

Following today’s news that both Caterham and Marussia will not be racing at the United States Grand Prix due to financial problems, Karthikeyan took to Twitter to make his feelings known.

“F1 is just too expensive and completely unsustainable for minnows,” he wrote. “First HRT, now Caterham/Marussia – has been waiting to happen ever since 2010.”

Karthikeyan also believes that their absences will not be felt by the bigger teams in F1, who will simply race on in Austin as usual.

“18 cars in Austin for next GP but sadly no one will miss the absentees, once the opening lap is completed without incidents. That’s the truth.”

As a man who raced in the dying stages of both HRT and Jordan Grand Prix in 2005, Karthikeyan is well-placed to comment on the situation that both Caterham and Marussia are currently facing.

Although his summation may seem cynical, there is a good element of truth to it. So long as the rich continue to get richer and excel at the front of the field in F1, they will care little for the exploits of the minnows fighting to survive at the very back.

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”