Author Archives: Peter Habicht

Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey and Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei on CNBC

Formula 1 CEO Chase Carey highlighted some key areas for the sports growth with Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei as the two spoke on CNBC’s morning business report today.

With the past several seasons as a springboard for change in Formula 1, Carey gave credit to the newly appointed CEO Emeritus Bernie Ecclestone and outlined some areas for change.

“I think first, Bernie deserves tremendous credit for the sport that’s been built over the past decades…he should be recognized and we certainly do appreciate what he built here.  But that being said, when you look at last four or five years, the sport has really not grown to its potential.  We have an opportunity to really grow this sport in a new and exciting way, and I think there are two fundamental parts:  One, put an organization in place that lets us make these events everything they can be, [one that] reaches out across digital media that we’re not connecting to today, build[s] a marketing organization that connects to fans, enables fans to connect to the sport.  And on another level, to really build a spirit of partnership with our teams, promoters, sponsors, broadcasters that enables us to work together with a common vision.”

In the past, the sport’s deals have consistently been done over one desk, Ecclestone’s, and it’s clear the days of autocratic rule have been set aside as Formula 1’s new guard prepares it for more profitability.  The key areas of broadcasting, sponsorship and promotion were highlighted, with sponsorship front and center according to CEO Carey:

“The one that grows the fastest is probably sponsorship, realistically today we have a one man sponsorship operation.  There are many categories we’re not even selling into.  We have signage at tracks we’re not selling, so in many ways, putting an organization in place that enables us to execute on that is probably is the most immediate impact.”

In response, Liberty Media [Formula 1’s owner] President and CEO Greg Maffei added: “I know that [Major League Baseball] has something like 75 or 80 people on sponsorship, and that contrasts with you said Formula 1 having one?”

Speaking from a remote studio, Carey continued:

“We have one… In TV, there’s no question.  There’s a lot of growth there, we just did a deal recently in the UK that increased our annual revenue by more that two times.  We are not yet really even a player in the digital media landscape, so thats an opportunity for us to add some digital dimension to our traditional broadcast media.  I think for the opportunity on the events side is really creating more making our events bigger, broader, better.  I’ve talked about having 21 races, [so] we have 21 Super Bowls.  Realistically we only have one race in every country, and we should make these races week long extravaganzas, with entertainment and music…events that capture the whole city, not just events at the track, and that is an opportunity for us to really over time to continue to grow the dimension a bit.”

21 Super Bowls require some star power, so who are the stars in Formula 1, and what is the sport doing to promote itself to a wider audience?

“We have great stars…Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen was an 18 year old who broke out in a great way this year.  Today I said we have one person in sponsorship and we have zero in marketing, and we don’t have a connection on the visual media.  So we’ve got to do a better job enabling fans to connect to our stars.  We have wonderful stars, we have incredible cars, and we’ve got to create the vehicles that are available today…to enable those fans to connect to them, to understand and relate to them.”

As Formula 1 is looking for growth in the United States, so in addition to the race at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, where could the next race take place stateside?

“The US is clearly a real opportunity for us.  We didn’t acquire the business…depending on the US success, but there is a real upside for us in the US market.  What we’d like to add is a race in a destination city:  New York, L.A., Miami, Las Vegas, a space that really people would come to for a week long event that has multiple dimensions with the race at the center.”

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The 2016 Mexican GP Report: With Documentation

A beautiful fall afternoon in Mexico City provided the backdrop for the second race at the newly redesigned Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in front of 135,026 fans today for a 1pm start, but the official results would change twice after the checkered flag waved, and take over 5 1/2 hours to confirm from the time the lights went out on the grid.

After a good start off the line the Mercedes front row was ready to enter into turn one unhampered until pole sitter Lewis Hamilton realized he was carrying too much speed, locking up his right front tire trying to brake too late for the right hander. Missing the entry, he careened across the grass to rejoin the track at turn 3 ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg who was busy making contact with Max Verstappen as slippery track conditions caught most of the grid out. Farther back, the Manor of Pascal Wehrlein made contact with Esteban Gutierrez’ Haas into turn two, launching Wehrlein into Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber, spinning Ericsson off the circuit facing backwards and ending Wehrlein’s race.

Farther along on lap 1, Carlos Sainz, Jr. made contact with the McLaren of Fernando Alonso along the back straight, forcing Alonso entirely on the grass at speed. In an impressive save, Alonso put the car back on circuit, and Sainz would later be penalized 5 seconds for his unsafe maneuver on the circuit.

The majority of teams employed a one stop strategy, opting to complete the majority of the distance on the Pirelli medium tires, which were rated for the entire race distance. Ericsson, who dove into the pits on the first lap after Wehrlein’s contact, was released after a long stop to examine his Sauber for damage, going back out on a Pirelli medium tire compound which he made last for 69 laps to finish 11th.

Hometown favorite and Force India driver Sergio Perez spent much of his race battling Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, initially for 5th position, and later for 10th, ending up behind the Williams drivers for a point.

Both Haas drivers struggled this weekend with slow speed grip, as well as electrical and aerodynamic issues, and finished 19th and 20th, while Jolyon Palmer finished 14th ahead of his teammate Kevin Magnussen after starting from 21st on the grid with a new Renault chassis after a crack had been discovered in his car over the weekend.

Lewis would lead most of the race, trading off with Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel briefly as they came in for medium tires, and in the closing laps a battle ensued for the final podium position as Vettel’s Ferrari was held up by Verstappen’s Red Bull. Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo was on fresher tires and applying pressure from fifth position when Verstappen outbraked himself 4 laps from the end at turn 1, going off onto the grass where Hamilton had done earlier to rejoin ahead of Vettel and Ricciardo. The incident was put under investigation by the race stewards, and Verstappen continued on in 3rd place, refusing to give up a place gained against the advice of his team.

Vettel, who had been pleading with his team to ask the race stewards to allow him past the Red Bull driver, became enraged at a lack of response from the race stewards, and proceeded to have an heated exchange over team radio prompting team principal Maurizio Arrivabene to call for calm at one point after Vettel began to invoke the FiA Race Director Charlie Whiting’s name in a verbal tirade. (Penalties for race incidents are issued after the finish if they occur during the final 5 laps.)

Hamilton and Rosberg took first and second handily, and shortly after crossing the line in 3rd ahead of Vettel, Verstappen left his car in parc ferme, continuing on to the podium staging room. He was then asked to leave after a 5 second penalty was applied by the race stewards, giving the position to Vettel. Timing and scoring was immediately adjusted before the champagne was opened, placing Verstappen 5th behind his teammate Ricciardo. At about the same time, Vettel was said to be out of his car and apologizing to the race director for his comments on team radio, and upon hearing the news of Verstappen’s penalty, Vettel then ran to the podium to join the Mercedes drivers for his 3rd place celebration.

That would have been the end of the story, normally, but yours truly was still here later this evening, when at 5:53pm local time, media was alerted to a report from Mr. Whiting regarding statements from team drivers and representatives in the following memorandum:

In short, Vettel was deemed to have driven in a ‘dangerous or erratic’ manner approaching turn 4 while moving under braking during his battle between the two Red Bull drivers, and the FiA stewards announced that Vettel was discovered to be in breach of regulations, given a 10 second penalty as well as two penalty points for his actions on the circuit. The net result has now put Daniel Ricciardo in 3rd place officially, and word is that the trophy was delivered to the Red Bull team.

This sequence of documents shows the final outcome as determined by the race director, and the official results were announced at 6:40pm local time:

Race winner Lewis Hamilton still trails points leader Nico Rosberg by 19 points, Rosberg (329) has two more races in which to seal his title hopes, with 50 total points left to be decided between Brazil and Abu Dhabi. Hamilton’s win has broken AMG Mercedes F1’s own 2015 record for most race wins in a season with 17, and ties Alain Prost’s record for all time Formula 1 victories with 51.

Current driver’s standings:

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Mexican Momentum: Lewis Takes Pole in Mercedes 1-2

It was a Mercedes 1-2 this afternoon in Mexico City as Lewis Hamilton took pole position with a 1m18.704s lap, more than two tenths faster than his teammate Nico Rosberg.  A Red Bull second row of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo looked like they would split the silver arrows for most of Q3, until Rosberg bested both on his final lap of qualifying for P2.

Both Ferraris were bested by a strong performance by Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India, who took 5th in the closing minutes.  Several teams found yesterday’s cooler temperatures and dusty track surface too difficult to improve their setups on today, with tires and brakes not reaching optimum temperatures.

Trailing by 26 points, Hamilton must finish 10th or better this weekend if Nico wins tomorrow’s race in order to keep his title hopes alive in the final two races later this month in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.  Several mechanical failures have plagued Hamilton this season, but he’s remained focused on the race at hand, sharing later:

“I turned up to do the job and I’m going to try to do the same thing as I did last week here.  So far this weekend has gone well…looking forward to the race, the long runs seem to be good, the car feels great, so I’m just looking forward to getting out on track.”

This was Hamilton’s 59th pole, and both he and Rosberg will start on soft tires tomorrow.

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