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New F1 CEO keen for ’21 Super Bowls’ per season, U.S. expansion

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Newly-appointed Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey has set his sights on expanding race weekend events and turning each race into its own Super Bowl-style event.

Carey was appointed F1 chairman back in September before becoming CEO on Monday following the completion of Liberty Media’s takeover of the series.

Long-standing CEO Bernie Ecclestone resigned from his role to make way for Carey, who will run F1 alongside commercial chief Sean Bratches and ex-Ferrari and Benetton technical boss Ross Brawn.

Carey confirmed on Tuesday that the decision to change F1’s management structure was sparked by Liberty’s belief that the series had not reached its full growth potential in recent years.

Speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Carey identified sponsorship as being a key area where F1 could grow quickly, as well as stressing the need to increase the show surrounding race weekends, drawing a comparison to the Super Bowl.

“The one that grows the fastest is sponsorship,” Carey said when asked about revenue streams.

“Right now we have a one-man sponsorship [team]. There are many categories we’re not selling into. We have signage we’re not selling. We need to execute on that.

“The opportunity in the event side is to make our events bigger, broader. We have 21 events… we need 21 Super Bowls.

“Realistically, they should be weeklong extravaganzas with music and activity, not just at the track. Over time the goal is to grow that dimension.”

Carey also wants to harness the popularity and global awareness of F1’s star drivers, identifying Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen as two of the sport’s top names that need to be more accessible to fans.

“We have great stars. Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, an 18-year-old who broke out,” Carey said.

“We have wonderful stars, incredible cars. We have to create the vehicles to allow the fans to connect to them.”

Liberty’s arrival as F1’s new owner has led to much speculation that it is set to expand the sport’s presence in the United States, a market that has traditionally proven difficult to crack.

Currently there is just one annual grand prix held in the United States, taking place at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, but Carey wants to bring F1 to some of America’s biggest cities.

“The U.S. is a real opportunity for us. There’s real upside for us in the U.S. market,” Carey said.

“We want destination cities: Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas. That way, people would come to for a weeklong event.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.