Sauber asks for cost control, simpler F1 rules in “not-so-serious” letter to Santa

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Sauber has continued its call for change in Formula 1 by posting what it has dubbed a ‘not-so-serious’ letter to Santa on its website.

After facing great financial uncertainty over the past couple of years, Sauber has been one of the teams leading the push for a more even distribution of prize money in F1 and a greater say in the future of the series.

So just as millions of children all over the world will have sent their letters to Santa asking for presents, Sauber did the same on Christmas Eve – albeit with a few requests that the big man is unlikely to have received from many others.

In the letter, Sauber asks for a budget cap, a fairer share of prize money, an overhaul of the rules to make them simpler to understand, and a greater onus placed on fan views in the sport.

Here’s the letter in full.

Dear Santa

Merry Christmas! You and the elves must be very busy at this time fulfilling millions of wishes, and we hope someone is also taking care of yours.

We are not entirely sure whether you have TV or Internet access at the North Pole, but anyway you might know about Formula One, the pinnacle of motorsport… or, at least, that’s what it’s been for decades.

Nowadays, money is the dominant force that drives performance and, therefore, success for a team. We believe it should rather be creativity, talent and dedication by the employees, rather than money.

Your elves create the nicest gifts based on their creativity and talent, right? Do you budget for toys? How do you distribute this between the elves? Do you favour some elves over others?

We, at the Sauber F1 team, stand for a fair distribution of revenues by Formula One Management (FOM), which in turn improves the baseline for many teams.

For our Christmas wishes to come true, we do not need the hard work
of your elves… we need your supernatural powers! If you have some time, we would be extremely happy if you could have a look at our wish list:

1. Budget cap and fair distribution of FOM money: this will ensure that many F1 teams are more competitive, which will bring more excitement into the sport. That is what the Formula One fans want.

2. Simplified rules: currently the rules are too complex and difficult to understand (not so much for us, but for the fans).

3. Listening more to the wishes of the fans: This is important for our fans; they are important to us and, in the end, Formula One is worth nothing without them.

Sincerely,
Sauber F1 Team

PS. If any of the other F1 teams wish for the opposite, shred their letters!

Road to the 2023 Daytona 500 is unpaved for Travis Pastrana, who’ll try DIRTcar Nationals

Pastrana DIRTcar Nationals
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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Travis Pastrana will attempt to make his first NASCAR Cup series race on February 19 with the grandaddy of them all, the Daytona 500, but his road to get there will not be paved and his car will have only two fenders as he tackles Florida Speedweeks and the DIRTcar Nationals.

In mid-January, it was announced Pastrana will attempt to qualify a third car from 23XI Racing that fields fulltime entries for Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Sponsorship will come from Black Rifle Coffee, who approached him during the offseason to ask what kind of “really cool stuff” he would like to do. Pastrana replied, “the Daytona 500” with a characteristic laugh in his voice.

“It’s good,” Pastrana said in a release. “We’re going to go down, we’re going to go hangout with [NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion] Matt Crafton, one of [Black Rifle’s] drivers, we’ll go to Modified races and watch all the Late Models. We’ll watch the racing, and we’ll bring [United States military] veterans down and hangout with [Steve] Arpin.”

But there is a saying among dirt track fans that goes, ‘asphalt is for getting to the track; dirt is for racing’ – and Pastrana is taking that to heart.

After racing on the snow in Nitro Rallycross February 4-5 in Calgary, Alberta, the original plan was to head to Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida to watch the modified and late model races. Until Crafton called him out for not racing.

Pastrana relayed the conversation: “I told Crafton [I was coming to watch] and he goes, ‘Ah, too much of a sissy to drive?’ I called Arpin, and said, ‘So, Longhorn, I heard you guys have vehicles that can kick the crap out of Crafton’s vehicle.’ [Arpin] said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t suck, you can beat him.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

The DIRTcar Nationals run from February 6-18. The first week features six UMP Modified Mains each night they run, on Monday (Feb. 6), Friday (Feb. 10), and then the prestigious Gator Championship race on Saturday (Feb. 11). Pastrana hopes to run every night in one of Arpin’s cars, also with sponsorship from Black Riffle Coffee.

And this is not just for bragging rights; there is money on the line. Pastrana and Crafton have a $1 bet on who has the best finish.

While Pastrana is accustomed pitching his car sideways on a combination of left and right turns in a rally car – he won the Nitro Rallycross race at ERX Motorsports Park in Minneapolis, Minnesota last October and became the first two-time winner in the 2022/23 season at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, Arizona in November – the DIRTcar Nationals will be an entirely different proposition.

It took a day for Pastrana to get comfortable in the modified. And it took a little coaching from Arpin, who has experience in both dirt modifieds and rally cars to make him fast.

“[Arpin] showed up the second day after hearing how bad the first day was,” Pastrana said, which is confirmed in the Instagram post embedded above. “But he just told me, until you commit, it’s not going to work. Once I committed, it started making a lot of sense. But coming in, if you’re lifting off the gas while trying to turn, it just doesn’t turn and all your natural instincts say, ‘Don’t get on the gas.’ So, yeah, I feel like it should suit my driving style because I’m more of an aggressive sideways type of driver, but it was very difficult. Turning and sliding, I’m fine. Getting it there is not the easiest.”

Pastrana has one previous start in a dirt late model that came in the 2010 Prelude to the Dream. He finished 23rd in the 27-car field and was three laps off the pace. He wasn’t the only driver having difficulty getting a feel for the car that night; Jeff Gordon finished on the same lap, only one position ahead of him.

Travis Pastrana will race one of Steve Arpin’s dirt modifieds during Florida Speedweeks as he prepares for the 2023 Daytona 500. – Jacy Norgaard, World Racing Group

The price of the weekend could well exceed the dollar he may lose to Crafton.

“It’s going to be an expensive weekend,” Pastrana said. “Not everything is covered. If I crash anything, it is going to be all on me. This is one of those things where I want to come down and have fun. I want to hang out with the crowd, I want to sign autographs and give high fives. Especially for the Modified crew, that’s the grassroots racing that I love and some of my friends are involved with. We’ll be camping down there with Arpin and all the Longhorn guys, just hanging out. I feel like that’s a great opportunity for us to bring a lot of [US] veterans and bring people that are into racing and aren’t into racing, friends and family, and just have an awesome time.”

And it’s not out of the question that Pastrana could add another top-10 to his record book in the DIRTcar Nationals. After the rocky first day, Pastrana gained speed. Enough so that Arpin’s confidence was raised.

“We’re pretty confident Crafton is going to have to run hard to keep his dollar,” Arpin said.