Ricciardo loyalty to Redbull not enough
After a 2015 season when Red Bull uncharacteristically stumbled, the upfront Australian is clear about how far loyalty extends in the pursuit of a title.
“It’s one of those ones,” he begins, choosing his words carefully. “Of course there’s loyalty and that’s a big one and, sure, if I could choose any team that I want to win my first world title with, then it’s Red Bull but, at the same time, I don’t want to spend 10 years in the sport being loyal and not getting any championship from it, so you’ve obviously got to balance it.”
The fact Ricciardo is even comfortable having this conversation deep in the bowels of the Red Bull hospitality centre at Circuit de Catalyuna shows how far he has come as a driver, and how far his team has fallen from the heights of the 2014 season.
In that debut year with the Milton Keynes outfit, Ricciardo overcame pre-season reliability issues in Bahrain testing to outshine world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, win three Grands Prix, claim a further five podiums and finish third in the title standings.
Then, it all fell apart.
But every F1 driver knows nice guys finish last, or at least mid-field. So, if Ferrari come calling for his Italian name, Roman nose and ability to push Vettel, will he, can he, hit the escape button on Red Bull?
“I think it’s one that got asked last year, obviously, there was my name thrown around with a few others when they [Ferrari] were looking [for a driver]. Sure, you want to put yourself in a winning car at some point and have a chance. Whether one day that is Ferrari I don’t know. I mean, obviously I won’t lie. I’m sure at least 90 per cent of drivers, at least if not now, they followed Ferrari as a kid because, in a way, that is what we knew formula one as.”
The lure of history, of destiny, calls Daniel Ricciardo, but he is clear and determined about what he wants from any team.
“It’s interesting, but it’s only interesting if they have got the best car.”
In other F1 news
FOM ordered Grosjean to remove Facebook videos
FOM ordered Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean to remove videos of the team’s filming day from his Facebook page, the driver revealed this week.
Grosjean confirmed that the videos – which had already received over a million hits – had been taken down at the express request of FOM.
“I ran a live video on my Facebook page during our filming day, as well as from my room yesterday,” said Grosjean. “FOM asked me to remove all the videos. We had more than a million views on all the videos.”
Grosjean said that he had been trying to boost the popularity of the sport and fan engagement, and that he was disappointed with FOM’s general approach to using online media.
“Formula One is too narrow-minded,” he said. “We say that we lose fans, but nowadays, social networks have so many billion people in the world – and we’re not allowed to make the most of them.”
FOM CEO Bernie Ecclestone has been noticeably reluctant to embrace online marketing possibilities for Formula One, implying that social media doesn’t bring in the right sort of fans sought by the sport’s prestige advertisers.
“I’m not interested in tweeting, Facebook or whatever this nonsense is. I tried to find out but in any case I’m too old fashioned. I couldn’t see any value in it,” Ecclestone memorably told reporters at the end of the 2014 season.
“I don’t know why people want to get to the so-called ‘young generation’. Why do they want to do that? Is it to sell them something? Most of these kids haven’t got any money.
“You’re telling me I need to find a channel to get this 15-year-old to watch Formula One because somebody wants to put out a new brand in front of them? They are not going to be interested in the slightest bit.
“Young kids will see the Rolex brand, but are they going to go and buy one? They can’t afford it. Or our other sponsor, UBS — these kids don’t care about banking. They haven’t got enough money to put in the bloody banks anyway.
“I’d rather get to the 70-year-old guy who’s got plenty of cash. So, there’s no point trying to reach these kids because they won’t buy any of the products here and if marketers are aiming at this audience, then maybe they should advertise with Disney.”
However, Formula One has been steadily improving its online offerings in recent years with a revamped official website and mobile live timing apps proving big successes, and even the 85-year-old conceded that the sport should be doing more in this area.
“We should use social media to promote Formula One, I just don’t know how,” he admitted.
Despite Ecclestone’s antipathy, the sport has also established an official presence on YouTube. However, the policy on the usage of video footage remains extremely strict, with any self-made clips posted online by fans attending a Grand Prix swiftly ordered to be removed as a breach of copyright.
Posting Formula One video clips online is a particularly thorny issue because it can conflict with the legal rights laid out in exclusive contracts with various television broadcasters in different nations around the world.
However, other championships are finding ways to successfully bring their sport online. In the US, the IndyCar Series posts extended highlights of all its races for fans to view for free several days after the event, while practice sessions are streamed live for free on its website.
Earlier this month, the FIA Formula E Series said that it would stream the upcoming Mexico City ePrix free for UK audiences, after the country’s broadcasters ITV confirmed that it wouldn’t be able to air the race live because of a scheduling clash with the World Grand Prix Snooker semi-finals.
‘Old’ qualifying for season opener in Melbourne
“The new qualifying won’t happen because we can’t get everything together in time,” the F1 supremo said in an exclusive article in The Independent. “It was going to come in at the start of this year but we are not going to be able to get all the software done in time. So the qualifying changes will probably be in Spain,” Ecclestone revealed. “In Australia it will be the old qualifying. All of the software has got to be written so it’s not easy,” he added.
Roger Penske’s Nearly Forgotten American F1 Team: The last American team to win an F1 Grand Prix
Roger Penske is one of the most famous names in American motorsports, but you don’t generally think “F1” when you hear his name. Most of Team Penske’s success has come in Indy Car, NASCAR, Can-Am and American sports car racing, but in the mid-1970s Penske tried his hands at Formula 1. His team remains the last American team to win an F1 Grand Prix, the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix.
Interestingly, the F1 effort is but only a footnote on Team Penske’s own website. Roger Penske only fielded F1 cars for two Grands Prix in 1971 and from 1974 to 1976, never replicating the success of his Indy and sports cars. On the eve of Haas F1’s entry into the sport, it’s worth revisiting this nearly forgotten team.
The most surprising thing about Penske’s F1 efforts isn’t its successes, but the fact that it wasn’t all that successful overall. Both American teams and drivers have always had a difficult time in F1, but if any American team could break into F1’s elite, European club, it’d be a team led by Roger Penske. In just a few years after Team Penske made its debut at the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour, it became an American racing powerhouse.
Penske signed Watson for the full 1976 season who drove the PC3 for the first six races, before switching to a new car, the PC4, for the rest of the season. The PC4’s first race in Sweden wasn’t very successful, but Penske showed up at the French Grand Prix with a modified PC4 and finally had a truly competive car.
Watson finished third at both the French and British Grands Prix and got Penske’s only F1 win in Austria, the same place where Donohue passed away just a year earlier.
One gets the distinct impression that Roger Penske didn’t care nearly as much about F1 as he did his American racing programs. Reflecting on the history of Penske’s F1 team asks a number of “what ifs?”
What if Penske didn’t develop his own car and buy a McLaren like he did in 1971. What if Mark Donohue lived to drive the superior PC3 and PC4? What if Penske spent more on F1 and hired a larger team?
We’ll never know, but it’s interesting to reflect on the eve of an American return to F1, thanks to Gene Haas. Watson’s victory in Austria was the last time an American team ever won a F1 Grand Prix: Perhaps Haas could take away that accolade.
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“I had to drive with only one eye open as the camera was blocking my other eye, quite tricky” di Grassi