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Hakkinen expects ‘ridiculous’ F1 engine penalty problem to get worse

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Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen expects the sport’s “ridiculous” engine penalty problem to only get worse in 2018 when teams face a reduction in the number of parts they can use.

Following a litany of engine penalties through the 2017 season that saw many drivers receive sanctions they could not fully serve, F1 bosses moved to improve the system for next year by capping the maximum grid drop to 15 places before being sent to the back of the grip.

However, with teams facing a reduction from four to three allowed usages of each power unit component through the season, concerns have been raised that penalties will only increase through 2018.

Writing in his Unibet blog, Hakkinen discussed the main negatives with F1 through 2017, highlighting both the engine penalty issues and concerns about the policing of track limits, a topic that flared up over the United States Grand Prix weekend.

“Two negative points about Formula 1 in 2017 were the continuing problems concerning track limits and the ridiculous number of grid penalties awarded to drivers as a result of powertrain problems,” Hakkinen wrote.

‘I have made my view on track limits very clear; the lines are there for a good reason and the current drivers should respect them. The alternative is the old, high, kerbs which were very dangerous and could launch a car into the air.

“As for the engine penalties, I know the FIA has simplified the system for 2018, but with the number of permitted engines being reduced from four to three, I can see more problems during the course of a long and very competitive season.

“On a more positive note, Formula 1 in 2018 promises to be even more competitive. I am sure Mercedes will again be the team to beat, but Ferrari will build on what they learned this year and Red Bull Racing will be joined by McLaren in having a supply of Renault engines.”

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

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