Helmut Marko joins call to scrap F1 Strategy Group

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Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko has become the latest figure within Formula 1 to call for the dissolution of the Strategy Group in favor of a more autocratic rule.

The F1 Strategy Group was created in 2013 as a body to give the teams a say in the management and governance of the sport, featuring Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, McLaren and the next-best placed championship team – in 2015, Force India.

However, the self-interest of the teams involved has prevented any real progress being made by the sport in recent months, leading to calls from many for the body to be scrapped.

Instead, a more autocratic rule led by the sport’s governing body, the FIA, and its commercial rights holder, FOM, appears to be favored, with Marko becoming the latest figure to join this call.

Speaking to the official Formula 1 website, Marko said that he felt the sport was over regulated and over-politicized, and should instead have a more direct rule.

“For sure it is overregulated – too many committees and too many people have a say,” Marko said. “Let them race!

“And get rid of the Strategy Group, because the teams will never agree on anything. Give the authority back to FOM and the FIA.”

Despite Red Bull being a member of the Strategy Group, Marko admitted that the self interest of all of the teams sitting around the table was only getting in the way of real progress for F1.

“Unfortunately nothing that would be required to make the show more exciting is achieved at the moment,” he said.

“But that is logical if you have four, five or six teams – everyone is looking for their own advantage and nobody is able to look beyond their own noses. So give it back to the people who know their business.”

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.