Wolff: Losing teams the brutal reality of F1

3 Comments

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has said that the loss of both Caterham and Marussia is merely the brutal reality of the economics within modern-day Formula 1.

In the past week, both of the backmarker teams have entered administration, meaning that they will not be racing in Austin this weekend at the United States Grand Prix. As a result, the F1 field will be the smallest in almost ten years at COTA, with just 18 cars set to race.

The F1 cost crisis has been self-induced, with the formation of the F1 Strategy Group – a big boys club for those with money – calling the shots for the future of the sport. Smaller teams such as Sauber and Lotus have been excluded from this, and as a result are left trying to compete with the might of the manufacturers with far more limited resources.

Earlier this week, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn expressed her frustration and sadness over the situation, but Wolff said that this was simply the economic reality of competing in Formula 1.

“You could probably reduce it to a very brutal reality,” Wolff said in Friday’s FIA press conference. “Gerard [Lopez] mentioned the words ‘economic reality.’ If today you run a team, it’s like running a company.

“And this shouldn’t be sounding arrogant in any way, but you’re not obliged to spend more than you have. There are different agendas. If you run a company today and you own it, you should probably run it in a sensible way, and that means spending what you have. If you decide to invest or to go into debt because you believe that there is a sound business case behind it, this is what you should do.

“Now, I find it disturbing as well that you need to spend one hundred million, or you want to spend one hundred million if your income is only 60 or 70 million. In my time back at Williams that was the philosophy. You spent what you have. And if you decide to follow a more aggressive strategy, you need to know what happens tomorrow.

“I have a lot of respect for everybody sitting on the stage, from an entrepreneurial view, but that is the economic reality and the economic reality is valid for any company out there and for any sports team.”

Wolff believes that F1 does need to act, though, and come up with a short-term solution for the good of the sport.

“We are nine teams today, 18 cars and we have lost two teams which is not nice and I’ve said that before,” he said. “I think the teams who are in Formula 1 today should stay in Formula 1 and we should all look at the situation and come up with a short term plan: how to have a healthy grid, and a long term plan.

“We are talking about money distribution that is an issue for the commercial rights holder, and I don’t have a solution. I can come up with many ideas which can be short term solutions but it comes back to the principle and what’s been said before: whatever you give to the teams, they are going to spend it.”

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
0 Comments

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.