Force India, Sauber make fresh call for F1 budget cap

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Force India and Sauber have launched a fresh call for greater cost control in Formula 1 in reaction to an idea proposed by former FIA president Max Mosley in the German media earlier this week.

The sport has been ravaged by a cost crisis for much of the past decade, and hit a low point in 2014 as both Caterham and Marussia entered administration and missed races due to their financial difficulties.

Although Marussia was reborn as Manor for the 2015 season, Caterham did not return, and is currently in the process of having the few remaining assets auctioned off.

Force India, Sauber and Lotus also encountered financial problems towards the end of the season and over the winter, and threatened to boycott last November’s United States Grand Prix over the financial gulf between the big and small teams in F1.

Speaking to Auto Motor und Sport in Germany, Mosley, who was president of the FIA between 1993 and 2009, suggested that a budget cap could be implemented whilst giving the teams more technical freedom.

Sauber reacted to his idea on Twitter via the official team account, saying that it was something “we fully support”.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn elaborated on this in an interview with Autosport, whom she told that F1 was in need of a “French revolution”. Now, Force India has joined the back-slapping over the idea of a budget cap, tweeting its own support following Kaltenborn’s interview on Thursday.

The idea of a budget cap in F1 was first taken seriously towards the end of Mosley’s presidency, with the plan being that the three new teams for the 2010 season – Lotus Racing (which would become Caterham), Virgin Racing (then Marussia, now Manor) and Hispania (then HRT) – could be competitive without breaking the bank.

Six seasons later, two of the teams are bust and the other survived by the skin of its teeth. In total, they scored just two points in total (Jules Bianchi’s ninth place finish at Monaco in 2014) in that time, and failed to compete as all ideas of cost control were put to one side by the sport.

Following the demise of FOTA and the formation of the meritocratic F1 Strategy Group, though, the idea of cost control being taken seriously in the sport seems further away than ever.

Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

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Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”