Wolff: Losing teams the brutal reality of F1

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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.”

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Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.