Word on the beat

Rumour and gossip from the F1 paddock

FORCE INDIA entered receivership before the Hungarian GP, but continued to operate under the receivers, who were looking at takeover bids from four interested parties. Two were US consortiums, one of them involving MICHAEL ANDRETTI and PIETER ROSSI, father of Indy 500 winner ALEX, but early in August it was confirmed that the team had been rescued by a group of investors headed by Canadian billionaire LAWRENCE STROLL. His son LANCEis now expected to make the transfer from WILLIAMS.

The Force India takeover was made more complicated when WILLIAMS, McLAREN and RENAULT, in exchange for agreeing to conditions (as required by the covenant between teams and F1’s owners) of the sale, demanded assurances that Force India would not become a MERCEDES B TEAM under the new ownership. It is believed that before going into receivership Force India had an agreement in place with Mercedes for 2019 onwards to run a tunnel share and aerodynamic support programme, much like that between HAAS and FERRARI,a model that is perceived as an existential threat to the medium-sized teams. The change of ownership allowed Williams, McLaren and Renault a chance to attempt to block that agreement. 

McLAREN knew post-British GP that Fernando Alonso would not be continuing in F1 next year. Discussions with successor CARLOS SAINZ were already under way, but awaiting the clearance of his Red Bull contract. Alonso is expected to race in IndyCar in 2019.

DANIEL RICCIARDO apparently kept a Red Bull contract in his briefcase, unsigned, for two weeks. His reasoning became clear on August 3, when it was announced that he had committed to RENAULT for the next two seasons.

LIBERTY MEDIA has confirmed that the planned MIAMI GRAND PRIX, scheduled for 2019, has now been postponed until 2020 for organisational reasons.

The Hockenheim attendance for the GERMAN GRAND PRIX was a pleasant surprise for the organisers, with the army of Dutch fans coming to support MAX VERSTAPPEN actually rescuing it financially. The promoter is now keen for a German GP to be the 2019 replacement for Miami.

The death of FERRARI president SERGIO MARCHIONNE seems to have boosted KIMI RÄIKKÖNEN’S chances of staying another year with the Scuderia rather than being replaced – as Marchionne intended – by CHARLES LECLERC. Other rumoured organisational changes, including the promotion of current technical director MATTIA BINOTTO, are understood to have been put on hold by new president LOUIS C CAMILLERI, former CEO of the Philip Morris company from which team principal MAURIZIO ARRIVABENE was also recruited.

HONDA’S F1 chief TOYOHARU TANABE has confirmed that the instruction from the RED BULL team for next year’s engine is along the lines of, ‘Just give us the power. We’ll find a way of packaging it.’

The Assen circuit is pushing hard for a DUTCH GRAND PRIX and has been in talks with Liberty Media to that effect.

JAMES KEY has been confirmed as McLAREN’S new technical director, although his current employer TORO ROSSO insists it has not yet signed off severance terms and so it is not yet known when Key will switch. In the meantime, MATT MORRIS has resigned as McLaren’s engineering director, following in the footsteps of recent departees TIM GOSS and ERIC BOULLIER.