Ecclestone, Todt commissioned by WMSC to invoke change in F1

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FIA president Jean Todt and Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone have claimed a big political victory after the FIA World Motor Sport Council approved a mandate for the duo to make changes in the sport.

Ecclestone and Todt have been battling against the major manufacturers in F1 over the past few months to try and reduce costs and make changes to improve the sport.

A recent move from the governing body and commercial rights holder to introduce an alternative engine solution to the sport – understood to be a 2.2-liter V6 engine to that used in IndyCar – was rejected by the F1 Commission.

However, following the latest WMSC meeting, a statement was issued on Wednesday confirming that Todt and Ecclestone now have a mandate to make changes and calls regarding a number of pressing matters.

“The World Motor Sport Council approved, by a near unanimous number (just one vote against), a mandate for the FIA President, Jean Todt and the Representative of the Commercial Rights Holder, Bernie Ecclestone to make recommendations and decisions regarding a number of pressing issues in Formula One such as governance, Power Units and cost reduction,” the statement reads.

“Mr. Todt and Mr. Ecclestone expressed their intention to establish conclusions on these matters by 31 January, 2016.”

The WMSC also made a number of other announcements regarding the future of F1, including the publication of the final calendar for the 2016 season that now lists the United States Grand Prix as being ‘subject to agreement’.

Other changes included the approval of a third dry tire compound for races in 2016 and the introduction of the Virtual Safety Car to practice sessions, while DRS usage after VSC periods has now become immediate.

Finally, Ferrari has been given permission to supply power units to a fourth team for 2016, all but confirming that it will once again become Toro Rosso’s engine partner for the new season.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
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Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.