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Toto Wolff: Formula 1 must not become a beta test

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Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff has stressed the importance of not making the sport a “beta test” following the completion of Liberty Media’s takeover earlier this week.

Bernie Ecclestone’s 40-year stint at the helm of F1 came to an end on Monday when he resigned as CEO, making way for Liberty’s Chase Carey to take over the role.

Carey forms one part of a triumvirate that will now run F1, working alongside commercial boss Sean Bratches and sporting chief Ross Brawn.

Reflecting on Ecclestone’s departure, Wolff paid tribute to the 86-year-old before adding that F1 must make the most of its opportunity to change for the better under Liberty.

“When you stay at the top of an organization as long as Bernie did, it is clear that it will be shaped in your image,” Wolff said.

“He had the great ability of always being present. When there was a fire somewhere, even one that he might have ignited, he put it out quickly.

“With the change of ownership, it will now take a new direction. It’s going to be different that it was in the past. Now we have to make the most out of it and grasp the opportunity.”

Wolff nevertheless remains wary about fixing a product that is not broken, saying that making changes without properly assessing their impact could risk alienating fans.

“I think we need to acknowledge that Formula 1 is a technical sport, so it will always polarize,” Wolff said.

“There are people who will say that they hate it and others will say that they love it. This is OK.

“But one thing is for sure: we shouldn’t make it a beta test. We shouldn’t mess with our loyal fans and our audiences by implementing rules and regulations that we haven’t assessed properly.

“We should use data in a scientific approach and see what works in other sports and other entertainment platforms, then combine that with the great strengths and assets of Formula 1.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.