Chris Putnam/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Formula One doles out early payments to financially hurting teams

Leave a comment

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic keeps racing sidelined virtually worldwide, revenue streams have dried up for teams often dependent on race purses and corporate sponsorship.

Formula One is taking taken steps to help shore up the finances of its teams in the absence of steady cash flow.

Autosport quoted a top Formula One official Thursday as saying that F1 had provided some teams with “early payments” to weather the shutdown.

Formula One has yet to race this season as its first nine rounds of 2020 have been canceled or postponed. The schedule currently is scheduled to begin June 28 with the French Grand Prix after the April 7 announcement that the Canadian Grand Prix had been postponed from June 14.

Austerity measures already have been taken in F1, which has furloughed nearly half of its staff through the end of May and also has seen voluntary pay cuts for senior leadership. The McLaren team also has furloughed employees, while drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris and CEO Zak Brown took voluntary salary reductions.

Greg Maffei, CEO and president of F1 parent company Liberty Media, told Autosport that some teams were paid early to ensure their viability.

“We have advanced money in advance of team payments for certain teams already,” Maffei told Autosport. “There are cases where we may do more of that; there are other things that we might do to bridge teams that might need help. We want to make sure that teams are solvent because they are part of what we need to race successfully in 2020, 2021, and beyond.”

Though NASCAR seems headed toward a mid-May return, it bears watching if similar steps might be taken with America’s biggest racing series that parallel F1.

With many sponsors withholding payments until racing returns, some Cup teams have had to resort to furloughs and layoffs to trim budgets. The resumption of the Cup schedule will mean a resumption of the purse and charter money that teams receive through their business pact with NASCAR, which derives much of its revenue through TV rights fees.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
Leave a comment

As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”