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mp2aAs I’ve written before, it was introduced to Formula 1 in the late 1970s by my father. Mario Andretti had won the title in 1978, and once scale model kits of the Lotus 79-DFV arrived on the shelf at our local toy store, he brought one home as a lovely father-son project that quickly engulfed the dining room table.

I can’t say if I was much help or learned anything about model building throughout the process, but I’ll never forget sitting across the table and listening to his tales of Mario’s amazing drives, of his passion for the late, great Jim Clark and the Scot’s effortless driving style, of the never-got-the-respect-he-deserved Innes Ireland, and the other F1 heroes my father revealed as the little Lotus came together.

With the fascinating new world of F1 in front of me, I began following it in the magazines and newspapers he brought home from his shop, and before long, it became by own sport – something I lived and breathed from afar. By the mid-'80s, Autosport, Road & Track, On Track and Autoweek became my F1 bibles, and with my growing obsession for the sport, my mind turned into a F1 data logger, sampling news, analysis and race reports at a high frequency. My mental ‘Record’ button was pushed in or around 1983, and it has yet to stop.

I’m not saying I can access those memory banks to recall all that I’ve captured – that’s why my office is filled with old racing magazines – but it helps to have some degree of context to frame the sport in modern terms.

At least for what has taken place since I came of age with F1, extreme popularity and wealth has been bestowed upon its participants, and other than the occasional controversy or scandal, dysfunction has been kept to a minimum – at least on the world stage. And then 2014 happened.

lot5From the Dirk Diggler noses to the soft-spoken turbo engines to the horsepower disparity between Mercedes and its rivals, the start to the 2014 season was riddled with criticism. A sense of normalcy eventually returned as calm fell over the heart of the calendar, yet with the championship in the home stretch, F1 has taken a turn for the worse. Fun is as rare as adequate funding.

The grim financial realizations by a number of F1 teams has pitched the sport into absolute disarray, class warfare among the sport’s strongest and weakest teams sits at the heart of the divide, a growing furor over frozen engine specifications and pleas for public funding to keep one of F1’s minnows from drowning has dominated the daily news cycle for far too long. Owing to the size and systematic nature of some of the problems facing F1, it’s hard to imagine the situation greatly improving in the foreseeable future.

Frankly, at the pace the dreary headlines have been flowing, I’m starting to run out of mental storage space. The biggest racing series in the world – widely recognized as the No. 2 sport on the planet – has now become a poorly-written and downright depressing soap opera. Drama is nothing new for F1, but it could be on the verge of overpowering the positives.

Out of curiosity, I went back over the last month of F1 stories, and between the normal bits, the volume of dispiriting news reveals the series – once a giant Jimi Hendrix riff – could be mistaken for Morrissey sobbing over his acoustic guitar.

The headlines slightly differ from one site to the next and, with a quick perusing, they represent F1’s informal State of the Union: Caterham insists team not threatened by affiliated company's legal issues, McLaren's Dennis says customer teams can't win titles, Caterham F1 bosses issue quit threat, Red Bull says Mercedes' domination isn't depressing, Kolles admits Caterham future now up to administrators, Fernandes blames Caterham buyer, Caterham management steps back, Caterham set to miss next two races, Marussia set to miss USGP too, F1 teams could supply third cars to troubled rivals, Marussia goes into administration, Andretti: "F1 needs to loosen up", Mosley warns more teams could soon fall, Renault backs Ferrari on engine freeze, Prost says negativity still hurting F1, F1 cost crisis: What happens next, Ex-boss says Caterham demise "strange", FIA: F1 crisis justifies costs cut push, No penalty for Caterham, Marussia yet, Sauber says FIA has a duty to take action, Third-car topic remains divisive, F1 is deliberately driving small teams out, claims Force India's Fernley, Teams do not have answer to financial crisis, Smaller F1 teams plotting next move, Crisis "probably my fault," Ecclestone concedes.


 

 79P8652lot6Let’s take a breath before we jump into the next block: Big teams against sacrificing income to help small teams, F1 cost crisis can be solved says Lotus boss, Ferrari not convinced by Mercedes' more conciliatory stance on engine freeze, Sauber hits out at engine supplier Ferrari, Rebellion would hurt the sport, top teams warn, Surprised Sutil wants Sauber talks after losing ride, Sauber responds to puzzled Sutil's comments, F1's small teams work on financial proposal, Marussia team closes its doors; 200 staff made redundant, Closing the power gap in 2015 will be "very difficult," says Horner, Caterham launches crowdfunding plan, Mallaya denies boycott was threatened, Caterham plan is a disaster, says Bernie Ecclestone, F1 engine-freeze talks collapse, Ecclestone to discuss small-team crisis with CVC, "Don't spend as much" Ecclestone tells small teams, Lotus boss hits back at Ecclestone, Horner calls for return to V8 engines, Mercedes: Rivals risk harming F1, "Super GP2" plan to boost grid sizes, Ferrari "won't give up" on engine freeze talks, Sauber urges FIA to take action on costs, Lopez says Caterham crowdfunding plan "sad".

OK, we’re almost there – one last push before we box: Ecclestone: F1 doesn't need young fans, Alonso: Small teams vital for F1, Merhi says he has Caterham race deal, Lotterer turns down Caterham offer, "Super GP2" plan prompts new talks plea, F1 set to drop double points next year, Top teams deny suggestions of a hidden agenda, FIA is last hope to resolve F1 cost dispute, Stevens to race second Caterham, Stevens insists Caterham seat worth it, Administrator says there's a three-week window to save Caterham, and finally – at least for what was posted through Friday, Nov. 21, Red Bull, Ferrari push for new engine rule proposals.

It’s easy to forget that a lot of great racing has taken place this season, yet finding a reprieve from the barrage of disheartening stories only seems to happen when the drivers are on track. Once the engines fall silent, the return to melancholy seems inevitable.

Bernie Ecclestone would have you believe the tidal wave of negativity is due to the media – beat reporters and bloggers alike – drumming up salacious content for their own benefit. It’s a silly notion that lacks merit.

IndyCar went through a nasty season in 2012 where many team owners were pushed to the financial brink, the officiating was often inconsistent, two engine manufacturers fought each other in print and with lawyers behind closed doors, one of those manufacturers threatened to sue the series, an assembly of team owners spent six months trying to get IndyCar’s CEO fired (something that was eventually successful), the third engine manufacturer threatened to sue IndyCar and defaulted on its payments to the series…

It was a sh*tfest at almost every turn. It darkened the tone in many stories throughout 2012, and those stories matched the level of rancor and dissatisfaction in the paddock. Like IndyCar a few years ago, F1’s stories of internal strife appear to mirror what’s taking place in the garages, hospitality suites, and boardrooms, and those tales are being told on a daily basis. Happy series=happy stories. Unhappy series=unhappy stories.

IndyCar’s situation improved in 2013, and by 2014, the series was relatively drama-free. Unlike IndyCar, F1’s problems aren’t new and they won’t be healed with the simple passage of time.

The solutions required to bring F1 out from the very shadow it created are big and scary. There’s nothing close to a consensus among the teams on how to fix things: The haves aren’t willing to help the have-nots, the series is powerless in many ways to affect repairs, and F1’s fans are left wondering if the fun, mesmerizing sport they’ve come to love is in desperate need of an intervention.

fansF1 will always have problems, but when those problems begin to steadily spill over into the living rooms, tablets, and inboxes of its ardent fans, it’s time to rethink why the sport exists and where it’s headed.

Part of F1’s allure is its exotic nature – the excess and otherworldly technology – that separates it from everything else on the planet. Of late, it feels ordinary – a cable news show where talking heads yell at each other around the clock.

As long as we’re inundated with polarizing gems like Ecclestone: F1 doesn't need young fans and Marussia team closes its doors; 200 staff made redundant, the series and its ills will be the spectacle, rather than its beloved cars and drivers.

There’s no shortage of sad and gloomy headlines awaiting folks each morning in the real world. Hidden behind F1’s disgruntled multi-millionaires and entrenched captains of industry, you’ll find its fans looking for a thrilling escape. If the negativity, political in-fighting and strife persist, I wonder if fans will start looking for an escape from F1.

 SBL9236Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo have been excluded from qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after their cars were found to be in breach of the regulations.

A report by F1 technical delegate Jo Bauer on Saturday evening said that the "front wing flaps were designed to flex under aerodynamic load." Following discussions between the stewards and Red Bull representatives, the FIA decided that the cars were illegal.

A statement issued by the stewards said that both Vettel and Ricciardo were excluded from qualifying, but would be allowed to start from the back of the grid. Ricciardo had qualified fifth, with Vettel just one place behind him.

The long straights of Abu Dhabi, allied to the low speed nature of many of the corners, means that flexible wings would be particularly advantageous around the Yas Marina circuit.

The team said it accepted the decision, but suggested it was not happy with it.

"We have been singled out for a front wing deflection test when it is clear that other teams are interpreting the rules in similar fashion," said Red Bull Racing via a statement.

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 

Sergio Perez

perez

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Sergio Perez will remain with the Force India Formula 1 team in 2015 after announcing a "multi-year contract" with the squad.

The Mexican joined the Silverstone-based team this season after a difficult season with McLaren last year. Perez is currently 12th in the standings with 47 points and a best finish of third in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Force India announced at the end of last month that it would also retain Nico Hulkenberg, meaning the team will have an unchanged lineup in 2015.

"I am delighted that Checo will continue with us," said team boss Vijay Mallya. "He's a true racer who has done a fantastic job for us this season. The whole team has been impressed with his speed and racecraft, as well as his role away from the track."

Perez added: "It's good to announce my plans. As soon as I joined Force India, I noticed the hunger and determination of everyone in the team, and I'm very proud to be part of that.

"I feel at home here and I'm fully committed. I'm enjoying my racing and we've already celebrated some special results together."

2015 F1 FIELD SO FAR:

Mercedes:Lewis Hamilton/Nico Rosberg
Red Bull-Renault:Daniel Ricciardo/Daniil Kvyat
Williams-Mercedes: Valtteri Bottas/Felipe Massa
Ferrari:Kimi Raikkonen/Sebastian Vettel
McLaren-Honda:Fernando Alonso(tbc)/Jenson Button or Kevin Magnussen(tbc)
Force India-Mercedes:Nico Hulkenberg/Sergio Perez
Toro Rosso-Renault:Max Verstappen/(tbc)
Lotus-Mercedes:Romain Grosjean/Pastor Maldonado
Sauber-Ferrari:Marcus Ericsson/Felipe Nasr

 

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 

 W2Q5759

Rosberg beats Hamilton to pole

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Nico Rosberg claimed pole position for the Formula 1 world championship decider in Abu Dhabi.

The German outpaced title rival and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by just over three tenths on the first runs in the top-10 shootout. He then improved on his second run, avoiding the lock-up later in the lap that cost him time on the first.

Although Hamilton also improved, he ended up 0.386 seconds off Rosberg to line up second. Even if Rosberg wins Sunday's race, though, Hamilton need only finish second to be sure of the title.

Williams again looked a potential threat in qualifying but when it came to the fastest runs in Q3, the pace advantage of Mercedes shone through. Valtteri Bottas ended up third, just over half a second off Rosberg, with team-mate Felipe Massa just behind.

Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel locked out row three, ahead of stablemate Daniil Kvyat's Toro Rosso entry.

Jenson Button beat the two Ferraris to eighth place, with Kimi Raikkonen ninth after only completing one run in Q3 thanks to having run out of fresh super-softs. Fernando Alonso, in his Ferrari swansong, was 10th having failed to improve on his second run thanks to locking up and running off the track.

Kevin Magnussen in the second McLaren only had one proper run in Q2, likely because of the same underfuelling problem that also forced Button to abandon his first run before setting a time. The Dane had looked set to make the top 10, only for Raikkonen and Kvyat to knock him down to 11th on their final laps.

Jean-Eric Vergne was also knocked down the order in the final seconds, ending up 12th, with the two Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg behind.

Sauber driver Adrian Sutil was slowest in Q2, falling three tenths short of his Q1 pace.

Romain Grosjean missed out on reaching Q2 by just over two hundredths of a second during a frenetic battle in the final seconds of the first segment of qualifying. First, Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado moved into a Q2 position before being bumped by Esteban Gutierrez, who was then relegated by Sutil.

Grosjean's final lap was not quite enough to beat Sutil, leaving him in 16th place, although he will drop to the rear of the field thanks to a 20-place penalty for changing power unit components. Gutierrez ended up 17th, ahead of Maldonado and the two Caterhams.

Kamui Kobayashi's was the faster of the two green machines, although F1 debutant Will Stevens gave a good account of himself by lapping just over half a second slower despite limited running in the car.

HOW THE TITLE WILL BE WON IN ABU DHABI

Rosberg wins the title if:
* He finishes first and Hamilton does not finish second
* He finishes second and Hamilton is outside the top five
* He finishes third and Hamilton is outside the top six
* He finishes fourth and Hamilton is outside the top eight
* He finishes fifth and Hamilton is outside the top nine

Hamilton wins the title if:
* He finishes first or second
* He finishes third, fourth or fifth and Rosberg doesn't win
* He finishes sixth and Rosberg is outside the top three
* He finishes eighth and Rosberg is outside the top four
* He finish ninth or worse and Rosberg is outside the top five

PosDriverCarTimeGap
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m 40.480s -
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m 40.866s 0.386s
3 Valtteri Bottas Williams/Mercedes 1m 41.025s 0.545s
4 Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes 1m 41.119s 0.639s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m 41.267s 0.787s
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull/Renault 1m 41.893s 1.413s
7 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso/Renault 1m 41.908s 1.428s
8 Jenson Button McLaren/Mercedes 1m 41.964s 1.484s
9 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m 42.236s 1.756s
10 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m 42.866s 2.386s
11 Kevin Magnussen McLaren/Mercedes 1m 42.198s 1.718s
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso/Renault 1m 42.207s 1.727s
13 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m 42.239s 1.759s
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India/Mercedes 1m 42.384s 1.904s
15 Adrian Sutil Sauber/Ferrari 1m 43.074s 2.594s
16 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber/Ferrari 1m 42.819s 2.339s
17 Pastor Maldonado Lotus/Renault 1m 42.860s 2.380s
18 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham/Renault 1m 44.540s 4.060s
19 Will Stevens Caterham/Renault 1m 45.095s 4.615s
20 Romain Grosjean Lotus/Renault 1m 42.768s 2.288s

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 

 79P0120Formula 1's small teams have been promised that a solution will be found to the sport's costs crisis in the next few weeks. They have also revealed that Bernie Ecclestone has abandoned the idea of third or customer cars.

The team bosses of Lotus, Sauber and Force India met with Ecclestone and CVC representative Donald MacKenzie in Abu Dhabi on Saturday to discuss the financial problems the small teams are facing. In a joint press conference held afterward, the trio said it was encouraging that Ecclestone and CVC had finally understood that action was now needed.

"Both Bernie and CVC realize that they need to take action. We are not going to go into the details of what they are discussing but for sure they are going to go away and look at a number of things," said Lotus owner Gerard Lopez (pictured above in conversation with Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn). "We now need to face this issue not just as the commercial rights holder, CVC and us – but we need to include the bigger teams to take up certain responsibility for what is going on right now, come to [the] table and participate in solving those problems.

"Both agree that there is an issue now, both agree that we are not beggars, we are reasonable and sensible, and both agree it can be solved."

The way forward appears to be a mixture of a redistribution of the commercial rights income in F1, allied to a push for more cost cuts. Ecclestone and CVC are likely to meet with manufacturer bosses in Abu Dhabi to discuss the ongoing situation with them.

Although the top teams have been reluctant in recent weeks to accept that they may have to make sacrifices to help smaller outfits, Lopez believes that they can be convinced to change their mind.

"They have every interest in the world of having a stable championship," he said. "The question is if the people at the racetrack are the ones that need to be looking at this or not."

The costs issue will also likely be discussed at next week's meeting of the Strategy Group and F1 Commission, although it is unclear if a solution will come immediately.

CUSTOMER CAR IDEA DROPPED

GP2 action at Sochi in 2014 Ecclestone has suggested in recent weeks the idea of third cars, customer cars or even a two-tier Super GP2 concept to help boost the grid in the event of small teams folding. However, Lopez said that Ecclestone and CVC had realized that going down that path would not actually save costs.

"One thing we have dismissed is the idea of third cars and customer cars," he said. "We have managed to disprove that financially speaking it is not an improvement. If you have to pay more, then the cost of buying a car is more than building your own one."

 

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 

EL0G1686Sam Bird became Formula E's second ever winner, the Briton dominating round two of the all-electric series on the Putrajaya street circuit in Malaysia.

Bird first took the lead on lap four, barging past polesitter Oriol Servia when the race was restarted following a lap-one safety car caused by a collision between Katherine Legge and Michela Cerruti.

Once in front Bird immediately gapped the field, his lead ballooning to nearly three seconds within two laps. His pace didn't come at the expense of efficiency either; Bird was the last of the drivers to make his car swap, pitting for a fresh set of wheels on lap 19.

The Virgin Racing driver emerged from the stop second, a long way behind Daniel Abt, who was the first driver to stop, but it didn't take long for Bird to hunt the German down. On lap 25 he made his move to retake the lead, and once in front he could cruise to victory.

EL0G1086"It's been an amazing week," said Bird. "We were quick from the first outing. Qualifying didn't quite go our way, but we put that right in the race."

China winner Lucas di Grassi came from the ninth row of the grid to finish second. The Brazilian had a clean first stint, before inheriting some spots on lap 23 when Jarno Trulli and Nelson Piquet, who were running third and fourth at the time, had a coming together on the approach to the first corner, taking both out of the race.

That left di Grassi third before his team-mate Abt started to run low on power with a couple of laps remaining and cleared the way for the Brazilian to comfortably slide through to take second.

"I felt like I had a better race than Beijing, even though I won in Beijing," di Grassi said. "I'm very happy, and will have a good party tonight."

Sebastien Buemi, who started on the last row of the grid, finished third, just over a second behind di Grassi.

Having battled for the majority of the second stint with teammate Buemi, Nicolas Prost was held up when Abt backed off to let di Grassi through. It not only forced to Prost to concede third to Buemi, but left him a sitting duck for Bruno Senna, who used his FanBoost power to motor past into fourth less than a lap later.

On the last lap, however, Senna got his approach to the fast turn nine left-hander wrong, and ended up in the wall and out of the race. That moved Jerome d'Ambrosio into fifth, ahead of Karun Chandhok and Servia. Antonio Felix da Costa finished eighth, Jaime Alguesuari ninth, while Abt – who was leading just six laps before the end – trundled home in 10th.

Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld's poor luck continued. While running well inside the top 10 early on he was pushed into the Turn 5 wall by Franck Montagny, ending his race on the spot.

RESULTS - 31 LAPS:

PosDriverTeamGap
1 Sam Bird Virgin 51m11.979s
2 Lucas di Grassi Abt 4.175s
3 Sebastien Buemi e.dams 5.739s
4 Nicolas Prost e.dams 9.552s
5 Jerome D'Ambrosio Dragon 13.722s
6 Karun Chandhok Mahindra 17.158s
7 Oriol Servia Dragon 18.621s
8 Antonio Felix da Costa Aguri 19.926s
9 Jaime Alguersuari Virgin 20.053s
10 Daniel Abt Abt 45.663s
11 Ho-Pin Tung China 55.833s
12 Stephane Sarrazin Venturi 56.626s
13 Matthew Brabham Andretti 1m05.036s
14 Bruno Senna Mahindra Spun off
15 Franck Montagny Andretti 1 Lap
16 Katherine Legge Aguri 3 Laps
17 Jarno Trulli Trulli 3 Laps
- Nelsinho Piquet China Collision
- Nick Heidfeld Venturi Disqualified
- Michela Cerruti Trulli Collision

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 

F80P9707The all-electric Formula E open-wheelers weren't particularly fast during their debut on the streets of Beijing in September, and most people hated the techno music bed that was used to compensate for the missing exhaust notes, but I'm confident in saying Alejandro Agag's ambitious concept surpassed most expectations at Round 1. The field of cars took off from the starting grid, raced for 25 laps, and a winner was declared.

Granted, it lacked excitement, barring Nicolas Prost's attempts to launch his World Endurance Championship teammate Nick Heidfeld into orbit on the final lap, and with a thorough list of improvements to make, Formula E has a chance to show the world it listened and learned from Beijing when Round 2 kicks off on Saturday in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

If Round 1 was Formula E's opportunity to show us what this new brand of eco-friendly racing had to offer, I see Round 2 as a critical test for whether the concept can make the transition from the fringes – a curiosity – to something worth following on a regular basis.



e3Everyone involved with the series will tell you Formula E is different; it can't be categorized like any other form of motorsport. They'll also tell you they aren't trying to appeal to the traditional racing fan – they're after a brand-new fan base of their own. Those beliefs and ambitions are fine, but like every other derivative sport, Formula E still has Formula 1, NASCAR, the WEC, WRC, IndyCar, and plenty of other established series to contend with as it seeks industry-wide legitimacy.

Until Formula E creates its own army of fans, has legions of dedicated reporters telling its story, and commands the market segment they desire, they'll be subject to the same criteria applied to other professional racing series. And that's what makes the Putrajaya ePrix such an important event.

Formula E was given a pass at Beijing, but if it doesn't look and feel like something real in Malaysia, the series will have a much harder time carving out a space of its own. Simply put, if traditional racing fans and outlets turn their backs on Formula E, the Wall Street Journals, Popular Mechanics and Bloombergs of the world aren't exactly clamoring to evangelize all-electric racing on a regular basis.

e2If Formula E faced a dozen hurdles at Beijing, the number is much lower in Putrajaya, but I'm still concerned about some of the obstacles they're facing.

To start, Formula 1 ends its season this weekend in Abu Dhabi and will crown a new champion on Sunday. Formula E's single-day format won't necessarily compete head-to-head with F1 when they practice, qualify and race on Saturday, but it's fair to say racing fans will be focused on F1's practice and qualifying at the same time.

Formula E team owner Michael Andretti doesn't believe F1 will take interest away from the happenings in Malaysia.

"It's not about being in competition with Formula 1 – they are two different types of racing so I don't think it will hurt us," he said. "I think Beijing was a great start to the Formula E season, but there are more races to come that will help play a part in growing the commercial side of the sport."

Dragon Racing Formula E driver Oriol Servia sees Saturday's F1-vs.-FE situation a bit differently.

"Not ideal. We offer a very different product than F1 does but it still is racing and we know that these days it is very hard, with all the entertainment offerings we all have, to get and keep the attention of the spectators for too long. The F1 finale with the championship on the line will get the most focus. With our race being Saturday, though – Friday night in the U.S. – we may get away with murder..." he wrote while on his flight to Round 2.


 

 SBL5712My other concern involves a gap of more than two months between Beijing and Putrajaya. Imagine seeing the first episode of an interesting new TV series and having to wait 70 days until the second episode aired. Would you forget about the series after a few weeks, much less remember when it was meant to return? In 2014, seven days is more than enough time for people to forget about Formula E...70 days is begging for anonymity and invisibility.

servia eAsked if he thought Formula E would be forced to essentially re-introduce itself at Round 2, Servia (LEFT) said yes, but sees the situation improving once they leave Malaysia.

"In a way, absolutely. We had a great start. I think it was not only a total success from the sporting point of view, especially considering it's a brand-new series; we also had a lot TV viewers tune in – 25 million households, so the last thing you want to do after getting everyone excited is letting them cool down again," he said.

"The original schedule had the second race three weeks ago but the Malaysian government asked for a change. On the other hand, though, it's going to help carry the momentum from here on as we have the next three races much closer together, with the advantage of almost no other racing at all going on anywhere else in the planet."

andretti eAndretti (RIGHT) pushed back when I posed the same question.

"I don't look at the Malaysia race as being a 're-introduction' for the series. We are racing all over the world and there are added logistics involved – we're on to a once a month schedule now," he said. "It's good for us to have that extra time in between events, and especially after the first race. We've now experienced the first race and the time allows us to evaluate and prepare both as a team and a series; we can take what we started in Beijing and do an even better job in Malaysia," he said.

I then asked Oriol to share his thoughts on what lessons Formula E could take from Beijing, and in turn, how those lessons could be used to improve for Round 2. The IndyCar veteran chose improved promotions for the one thing that makes the series different from its competitors, and another item that was universally annoying.

Formula-E-cockpit-at-Trulli-test-courtesy-FEH"As a driver, I had a lot of fun and honestly wouldn't change much a part from ironing a couple details," he said. "After watching the broadcast, I thought they did a great job but also a couple little things can help the overall show, mainly explaining some of the amazing technical nuances like power regeneration systems – we have three! And two of them adjustable from the cockpit – that will make the audience better understand what is going on and get them totally interested. And maybe little lower the volume on the electronic music to make it more suitable for all audiences..."

Compared to other racing series, Formula E is an infant, and deserves the time and space to grow. Formula 1 has a massive head start on Formula E; it began in 1950 and has a giant audience locked in place. Indy car racing made its debut in 1911, the 24 Hours of Le Mans started in 1923 and NASCAR held its first race in 1949. However, times have changed since those series were formed.

Attention spans are shorter than ever, and whether it's in sports, business, government or entertainment, we tend to judge new entities in terms of instant success or instant failure – there's no middle, and no patience to watch something like Formula E gain acceptance at a glacial pace.

Servia hopes tech-minded fans and auto manufacturers will become the conduit to move Formula E from the margins to front-page material.

"On our end, we feel that without a doubt it has a great future. Not only all car manufacturers either have an electric car or in the process of having one but many more electronic-related industries like phone companies, computers will want to participate and showcase their technology," he declared. "With only two American teams on the grid and with us being based in L.A. – the city with the most electric cars in the world – we think we are in a great position for a bright, race-relevant future.

"And you know, I believe it's not a question of trying to be different or getting different fans. It is very different in almost every way to any other type of racing – the technology used, the aim of the show, the audience target, being green and relevant and city friendly. Not only can all racing fans find something to like, but all the techies out there will have a natural interest and will pay at least a minimum of attention to it. If the show is decent and entertaining, they will be more naturally hooked than other TV offerings out there."

Will Putrajaya result in Formula E advancing their product, having to re-introduce it, or taking a few steps back with the long layoff and F1 dominating the headlines? We'll have the answer in the next few days.​

e5

Red Bull, Ferrari eye new engine rules

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Mercedes' rivals are ready to table a proposal for radical engine regulation change for 2016 if the German car manufacturer does not concede ground on relaxing Formula 1's engine freeze.

As frustrations grow that Mercedes will not approve a plan to allow limited in-season engine development for 2015, its main opposition has made clear that it cannot accept the situation longer term.

Ahead of next week's meetings of the Strategy Group and F1 Commission, rivals Red Bull and Ferrari have dropped a major hint that they may push for new rules for 2016 if they are restricted on what they can change next year. Red Bull boss Christian Horner even suggested that F1 should switch to twin turbos and standard energy recovery systems for the current V6 engines.

"Maybe we need to even go as far as looking at a different engine – a new engine," he said. "Maybe still a V6, but maybe a more simplified V6 that controls the cost – cost of development, cost of supply to a team and to the privateer teams. I think that's something we need to have a serious discussion about during the next Strategy Group."

Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci backed Horner's view that a more radical change to the engine rules may need to be considered for 2016, although he drew short of saying he would like to see an all-new engine.

"Definitely we need to look at something different for 2016," he said. "In terms of power unit and in terms of regulation [for] 2015 it is clear we will have to – at the moment – accept the status quo. "But definitely we are not going to accept the status quo for 2016."

Toto Wolff

MERCEDES: "THAT WOULD BE LIKE DIGGING A GRAVE FOR F1"

Mercedes-Benz motorsport boss Toto Wolff (LEFT) is well aware that his team's rivals could push for something radical for 2016, because only majority support among teams is needed to change the rules. However, he believes that doing anything that dramatically increased engine costs could risk causing big damage to the sport.

"We are all talking about costs and, if you would open up the regulations in the way it has been described, that clearly means you don't care about costs," he said. That would be like digging a grave for Formula 1.

"We have spent considerable amounts in the development of the power unit... but I think we need to be sensible and we need to come up with solutions which enable the small teams to survive and which still enable the big teams to showcase the technology.

"Reversing everything, changing the format, changing the engines would just increase costs; it would be the opposite for what we need for Formula 1 at the current stage."

 

 

 

Originally on Autosport.com

 

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