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.”

NBC/NBCSN SCHEDULE FROM UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.