Fernley: F1 Strategy Group not fit for purpose

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Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley has launched an attack on the Formula 1 Strategy Group, saying that it is unfit for purpose following its latest meeting in England last week.

The F1 Strategy Group is made up of representatives from just six of the ten F1 teams, but holds a great deal of power in determining the future direction for the sport.

Last week, the decision was taken to push for a faster F1 from 2017 by dramatically changing the current technical regulations, despite the current rules only being introduced 14 months ago.

The decision to rewrite the regulations has split opinion within the sport, and many of the smaller teams have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of focus on important issues such as cost control.

Speaking in the FIA press conference on Thursday, Fernley made his thoughts on the Strategy Group clear, calling for a more autocratic rule of F1 by the FIA and the commercial rights holder, the F1 Group.

“I think that the problem I have is that I don’t think the Strategy Group is fit for purpose and we should be looking at something where we have a clear programme that delivers results,” Fernley said.

“We’ve have 18 months or two years of Strategy Group work with nothing coming out of it. I think we need to look at the system in a better way.

“In days gone by, with Max [Mosley] and Bernie [Ecclestone] in charge, there would be none of that. We would know exactly where we’re going.

“I don’t think you should have the teams making decisions on where Formula 1 should go. The teams should be told where Formula 1 is going.”

When asked whether the Strategy Group had had its day, Fernley was abrupt, saying: “Well I don’t think it ever had its day. End of story.”

The idea of a more autocratic control of F1 was supported by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who said that a division in the teams’ goals was inevitable.

“It’s rather predictable: Bob’s going to ask for more money, Toto [Wolff, Mercedes team boss] is going to not want to change anything and we want to change engines,” Horner said. “So every team has got its own agenda and it’s going to fight its own corner.

“I think that the sport is governed by the FIA and it’s promoted by FOM. It’s those guys that need to get together and say ‘what do we want Formula 1 to be?’ Yes, we want it to go quicker, we want cars to be more aggressive to drive – but you’re never going to keep everybody happy.

“I think that Bernie and Jean [Todt, FIA president] need to get together and say ‘this is what we want the product to be, this is how it needs to be governed,’ and then give us the entry form and see if we want to enter or not.

“Because I think putting it in the team’s environment to try and agree a set of regulations – you’re never going to get everybody on the same piece of paper.”

Ganassi announces multiyear sponsorship extension with American Legion for No. 10

Chip Ganassi American Legion
David Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Chip Ganassi Racing announced a new primary sponsorship deal with The American Legion this week, shoring up the funding on its No. 10 Dallara-Honda of Alex Palou.

The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion primarily had driven with NTT Data sponsorship the past two seasons. But NTT Data will move next season to McLaren Racing as a primary sponsor for Felix Rosenqvist in 10 races and on the Indy 500 car of Tony Kanaan (who drove an American Legion car for Ganassi at the Brickyard last year).

It was the latest twist in a McLaren-Ganassi saga that included a contract dispute for the services of Palou (who is expected to move to McLaren in 2024 after reaching an agreement to race with Ganassi next year).

Ganassi stayed within its own walls to help plug the sponsorship gap left by NTT Data, re-signing The American Legion to a multiyear extension. The Indianapolis-based non-profit organization, which has been sponsoring Ganassi cars for the past few seasons, also will be associated with other Ganassi drivers, including Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and development driver Kyffin Simpson in Indy NXT.

The Ganassi organization will continue promoting The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign aimed at reducing veteran suicides. The team launched an online auction for the initiative this week.

“Supporting our nation’s veterans is of immense importance to our organization and we are humbled to continue supporting The American Legion’s mission in ending veteran suicide,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a release. “We will do absolutely everything we can to help veterans get the support they need while raising public awareness of the ‘Be The One’ platform.”

“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from fans, active-duty military members and veterans as a result of this partnership and we’re pleased to see it grow,” said Dean Kessel, chief marketing officer at The American Legion. “Thanks to the continuous collaboration with the team’s other partners, and the promotion of the ‘Be The One’ initiative, we are discovering more ways to engage with the military community than ever before. We want all veterans to know that it’s okay to ask for help.”