Bernie Ecclestone revealed it himself first, that he was no longer in charge of Formula One, but new bosses Liberty Media soon followed up with the confirmation – they have officially taken control of the sport and their first task was to replace Bernie. The 86 year old’s tenure at the top is over, and although he still has an honorary title within the new organisation, it looks as though his day to day dealings with the sport are over.
It's the first Debrief of 2017, and what better topic to be discussing than the change of leadership for the commercial side of Formula One. Bernie Ecclestone is stepping aside at long last and letting someone else take control of the sport we know and mostly love.
There's been plenty of news this week, with Mercedes finally confirming what everyone had already come to suspect - Bottas taking the spare seat next to Hamilton, and Massa coming back out of retirement to shore up the driver lineup at Williams. There are a handful of posts about that in the links that follow but other topics have come to the fore as well.
The World Motorsport Council gathered in Geneva today for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the potential takeover of Formula One by the Liberty Media Corporation. Two statements released after the meeting reveal that the acquisition has the approval of everyone involved, with CVC transferring their entire shareholding to the new owners Liberty Media Corporation.
It’s the news everyone has been expecting but it was finally confirmed today that Mercedes have indeed managed to poach Valtteri Bottas from the Williams team to join them for 2017. Bottas will move to Mercedes to replace the outgoing world champion Nico Rosberg, and partner Lewis Hamilton for the coming season.
Sauber have completed their driver line up for the coming Formula One season, by hiring Pascal Wehrlein, fresh from the ailing Manor team. Wehrlein has been in the frame for a couple of larger profile drives, but was potentially considered not experienced enough for Mercedes, and not quite the right fit for Force India.
Despite us only being a couple of weeks into the new year, the news keeps coming thick and fast, with changes of leadership in two of the top teams and the ongoing troubles at Manor. It's also Autosport International this weekend, so we're starting to hear news from the attendees as well, particularly if they are interviewed on the main stage. To keep you occupied if you're not there, here's a roundup of recent Formula One links that are worth your attention.
Renault and team principal Frederic Vasseur have confirmed they have parted ways by mutual consent, leaving the running of the team to Jérôme Stoll and Cyril Abiteboul. Although Vasseur’s departure has been agreed mutually, it sounds as though things weren’t quite as amicable as you might hope.
Mercedes have confirmed the long-held suspicion that Paddy Lowe, executive director (technical), will be leaving the squad. There’s talk that he’s headed to Williams as part of a deal that may fill the spare Mercedes seat, but we know nothing of that, only that Paddy is leaving Mercedes and now goes on a period of gardening leave.
It's a brand new year, resolutions are being made (and broken already), and we're all starting to look ahead to the 2017 F1 season. Who will do well, who will step up to the plate, and let's be honest, will Manor even make it? Heading into the first full weekend of the year, I've lined up a handful of links for you to read, listen and watch, to make the most of your motorsport minutes, and stay up to date with what's happening.
The Manor team’s participation in the upcoming Formula One season has been cast firmly into doubt with the news that the squad has gone into administration. Whilst the overall business of Manor Grand Prix Racing, which is the rights owner to the F1 entry, still remains viable, the team itself has had the administrators bought in.
Two more teams have confirmed when they will reveal their 2017 challengers, and it almost feels like each squad is waiting to see who else is launching, and then sneaking in the day before. We’ve had Ferrari on the 24th February, Mercedes then on the 23rd. Now Force India have announced we need to save the date of the 22nd, whilst Renault are keen to kick things off on the 21st.
The Formula One channel-share that has seen both Channel 4 and Sky Sports F1 doubling up on coverage during the 2016 season continues into the new season, as the British broadcasters embark on the second of a three-year deal. Channel 4 will then secede rights to Sky Sports who take over as exclusive rightsholders from 2019, but before that, there is still some free-to-air coverage to enjoy.
The festive season is done, a new year is upon us and that can only mean it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2017 Formula One season. Two teams have confirmed the launch dates of their new cars, and whilst launches aren’t the big deal they were a decade ago, the all-new style of this year’s machinery means there will be plenty to look out for. Wider cars, bigger tyres and various aerodynamic tweaks will attempt to make the cars faster, and they should look recognisably different from the 2016 batch.
“If I am out ahead I want to be as far ahead as possible.” The eager words of Lewis Hamilton, who was ruling out the possibility of doing anything other than racing his heart out in Abu Dhabi. Red Bull chief Christian Horner had suggested it would be prudent to get out in front of the pack and then start to back the field up in an effort to mix up the position Nico Rosberg ended up with, giving Hamilton half a chance at taking home the 2016 World Championship title.
We're not super big on anniversaries and suchlike here at Sidepodcast HQ, but it turns out that on this very day, ten years ago, the whole concept of Sidepodcast was born. On the 30th December 2006, I purchased a domain name, whipped up a quick start blog and began posting about what we were working on.
I wasn't expecting to have to write three goodbye posts this year, but of all the driver retirement announcements, Nico Rosberg's was the real surprise. The World Champion of 2016 took only a couple of days to realise he'd reached his goals and wanted to step back whilst he was still at the top of his game. And why not? There's a lot to life and as much as we love and obsess about Formula One, it's not everything. Good thoughts and best wishes to Rosberg and his family, as he embarks on the next adventure!
It's been a while since we had drivers voluntarily stepping back from their race seats, but 2016 has seen potentially three names doing just that. Jenson Button initially wanted it to seem like he was just taking a single year out and could be back behind the wheel in future seasons, but as the 2016 calendar wore on, it was more obvious that he was looking forward to the break and probably wouldn't be back.
Williams have released a statement confirming the departure of their Chief Technical Officer Pat Symonds, who is set to leave at the very end of the year. He has been with the squad since 2013 where he joined on a three year contract to help turn the ailing team's fortunes around, and he achieved just that.
It's been a while since there was some sincerely shocking F1 news that made you sit up in your seat and do a double take. With Rosberg's retirement, it's only natural we took time out to talk about it, so coming up on this show, we accept the challenge of a listener, ponder outside bets for Mercedes, and the possibility of a fabulous 2017.