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Indian Grand Prix Unlikely Till Promoter Jaypee’s Financial Health Improves

Jaypee Group’s total debt is estimated to be around Rs 75,000 crore as on March 31, 2015, going by the report of foreign brokerage firm Credit Suisse

New Delhi: The shelved Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix is unlikely to return to the Buddh International Circuit until the financial health of its debt-ridden promoter Jaypee Group improves, the event’s CEO Sameer Gaur has said.

Gaur, who had earlier said that taxation issues surrounding the race will have to be resolved for it to return, now says the Jaypee Group will try to get the race back after the conglomerate is back on track.

The total debt of the Group is estimated to be around Rs, 75,000 crore as on March 31, 2015, going by the report of foreign brokerage firm Credit Suisse.

“There are no immediate plans to get the race back. The main focus is on improving the overall health of the Jaypee Group. As in when the economic scenario improves, we will think about the race,” Gaur, CEO of the Jaypee Sports International, told PTI.

Gaur’s latest comments do not raise hopes of the race’s return but one person who is still positive about India is none other than F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

“We would love to return to India when the promoters are ready. F1 was well received in India and it is unfortunate that it had to dropped,” Ecclestone told PTI in a recent chat.

The Indian Grand Prix was dropped after three editions from 2011-2013 owing to tax and bureaucratic hurdles. Later in March 2014, Ecclestone revealed that race promoters had not complied with the five-year contract, raising more doubts over the event’s future.

The tax case, filed before the first race to ascertain whether Formula One Management’s (FOM) income is taxable in India, remains pending in the Bombay High Court. The issue, however, has been put on the backburner by the Jaypee Group in the light of bigger concerns at hand.

Getting the race back looks like a herculean task. Even when the tax issues are sorted out, Jaypee would have to cough up a huge amount as licensing fee to FOM.

It is believed that the Group shelled out around USD 40 million each year for the three races. Considering its current financial health, it is unlikely it will be ready to pay the same huge amount year after year. Lack of government support is also a huge handicap for the race, which in most other countries, is backed by the state.

Scheduling too is always a challenge and it won’t be easy to accommodate the Indian Grand Prix on the ever crowded calendar. The 2016 season has as many as 21 races.

Ecclestone, however, insisted that scheduling the India round will not be a problem as long as the promoters are keen to host the race again.

“We will find a way to fit the Indian Grand Prix but first the promoters need to show interest,” said Ecclestone.

The Buddh International Circuit, which cost USD 400 million, has become a much quieter venue ever since F1 went away.

With no big international event on its roster, it has mainly become a hotspot for vehicle testing, award nights, functions and odd domestic racing events.

Indian F1 Grand Prix Unlikely Till Jaypee’s Financial Health Improves

Indian F1 Grand Prix Unlikely Till Jaypee’s Financial Health Improves

New Delhi: The shelved Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix is unlikely to return to the Buddh International Circuit until the financial health of its debt-ridden promoter Jaypee Group improves, the event’s CEO Sameer Gaur has said.

Gaur, who had earlier said that taxation issues surrounding the race will have to be resolved for it to return, now says the Jaypee Group will try to get the race back after the conglomerate is back on track.

The total debt of the Group is estimated to be around Rs, 75,000 crore as on March 31, 2015, going by the report of foreign brokerage firm Credit Suisse.

“There are no immediate plans to get the race back. The main focus is on improving the overall health of the Jaypee Group. As in when the economic scenario improves, we will think about the race,” Gaur, CEO of the Jaypee Sports International, told PTI.

Gaur’s latest comments do not raise hopes of the race’s return but one person who is still positive about India is none other than F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

“We would love to return to India when the promoters are ready. F1 was well received in India and it is unfortunate that it had to dropped,” Ecclestone told PTI in a recent chat.

The Indian Grand Prix was dropped after three editions from 2011-2013 owing to tax and bureaucratic hurdles. Later in March 2014, Ecclestone revealed that race promoters had not complied with the five-year contract, raising more doubts over the event’s future.

The tax case, filed before the first race to ascertain whether Formula One Management’s (FOM) income is taxable in India, remains pending in the Bombay High Court. The issue, however, has been put on the backburner by the Jaypee Group in the light of bigger concerns at hand.

Getting the race back looks like a herculean task. Even when the tax issues are sorted out, Jaypee would have to cough up a huge amount as licensing fee to FOM.

It is believed that the Group shelled out around USD 40 million each year for the three races. Considering its current financial health, it is unlikely it will be ready to pay the same huge amount year after year. Lack of government support is also a huge handicap for the race, which in most other countries, is backed by the state.

Scheduling too is always a challenge and it won’t be easy to accommodate the Indian Grand Prix on the ever crowded calendar. The 2016 season has as many as 21 races.

Ecclestone, however, insisted that scheduling the India round will not be a problem as long as the promoters are keen to host the race again.

“We will find a way to fit the Indian Grand Prix but first the promoters need to show interest,” said Ecclestone.

The Buddh International Circuit, which cost USD 400 million, has become a much quieter venue ever since F1 went away.

With no big international event on its roster, it has mainly become a hotspot for vehicle testing, award nights, functions and odd domestic racing events.

Lewis Hamilton Unimpressed by Baku as Mercedes Fear Ferrari Pace

Lewis Hamilton Unimpressed by Baku as Mercedes Fear Ferrari Pace

Lewis Hamilton heads to Baku for this weekends European Grand Prix, the first to be held in Azerbaijan frustrated at the stereotypical nature of the new street circuit.

The 31-year-old Briton, who is looking to complete a hat-trick of wins that could put him back above Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg on top of the drivers championship standings, said he had tried the track in his team’s simulator.

“Its just another new track,” said the defending three-time world champion of the controversial addition to the F1 calendar under attack from human rights protesters.

Hamilton added: “Theres one very tight spot on it. It’s got a very long straight I dont have a lot to say about it. I dont know what I can say

Monaco is the street circuit and they don’t make them like that. I don’t why they don’t, but why don’t they just make street circuits like they used to?

“I don’t understand. It’s super wide in some places — as wide as a motorway almost, but, hopefully, it will be fun.

“Ive heard the weather will be good and hopefully they’ll have a good turn out.”

Just days after his second win of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix had trimmed German Rosberg’s lead to nine points, Hamilton has the incentive he wants and the momentum to deliver a result.

But, as his team chief Toto Wolff has warned, Mercedes no longer can rely on outright performance superiority and recognized that Ferrari may, in some conditions, have the power to out-pace them.

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel demonstrated that in Montreal where he took the lead at the start and might have triumphed if Ferrari had not switched him, errantly, from a one-stop to a two-stop strategy.

Like Hamilton, however, Vettel has found early sightings of the Baku street track an elusive one to evaluate.

“It was a bit difficult to find my way round to be honest,” he said after testing the track in the Ferrari simulator.

“So, I dont think it’s fair to judge yet. We have to wait till we get there.

“It looks exciting in some parts and others a bit more straightforward .”

In a revelation that will boost his hopes and those of Red Bull, Wolff said that Mercedes were no longer clearly the team with the fastest top speed.

“You could see the top speed of Red Bull and Ferrari is pretty much where we are,” he said after the Canadian race.

“It is what we have been saying all these years just leave the rules alone and performance is going to merge.

“It is happening right now. So, it’s good we are changing the rules for next year! I think it would have been difficult (for Hamilton to pass Vettel). He drove really well and the gap between the cars was too little to make a difference.’

He added that Mercedes were not standing still, but had upgrades of their own to match the updated engines now in use by Ferrari and Red Bull on the way.

“We will have an aero upgrade for the British Grand Prix and engine-wise, everybody is really working hard in order to bring performance that is necessary.

Like most drivers, of course, Wolff will concentrate on his team’s track performance and results while, doubtless, remaining happy to avoid the rising volume of those who have been drawing attention to Azerbaijans poor record on human rights.

In their 2015 report, Human Rights Watch claimed that the former Soviet republic had delivered a “dramatic deterioration in its already poor human rights record”.

This was raised by the ‘Sport for Rights’ campaign group in London this month when they discussed the issue with one of F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s leading advisers and lawyers, Sacha Woodward-Hill, at a meeting in London.

In May, the same group said that F1 should urge the Azerbaijani government to release unjustly imprisoned activists and journalists before the race is held.

“If it remains silent, Formula One risks condoning the governments efforts to benefit from the prestige of international events while silencing domestic critics, without consequences,” said Jane Buchanan of Human Rights Watch.

Many of F1s top teams and major sponsors, including Mercedes, have to work within a framework of corporate responsibility that includes upholding acceptable levels of human rights.

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff Urges Team to Move on from Clash

Mercedes’ Toto Wolff Urges Team to Move on from Clash

LONDON: Formula One world champions Mercedes will not rein in Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg after they collided and put each other out of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, team boss Toto Wolff said.

“We have moved on from Spa in 2014 and it was a completely different situation in the team back then,” the Austrian told reporters, referring to a collision between the two at the Belgian Grand Prix.

“By continuing to let them race (each other) it was clear that eventually this could happen. And we will continue to let them race.”

The second lap collision in 2014 led to a freeze in relations between the drivers, who had been friends and rivals since their teenage years.

In that incident, Rosberg finished second behind Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo while Hamilton ultimately retired with collision damage.

The Briton said later that the German, who was blamed by the team, had declared he had done it on purpose.

Sunday’s incident put both out of the race, with the two drivers lining up on the front row of the grid and crashing into each other as they fought for the lead through the third corner of the opening lap.

The collision ended Rosberg’s run of seven wins in succession including the first four of the year and the team’s hopes of a one-two finish.

Wolff said the collision, which the stewards deemed a racing incident, was the result of a number of unfortunate coincidences. Neither driver was totally to blame.

“I think what matters more is how we come out of the incident as a team,” he said. “We’ve had a really great spirit in the team in the last couple of races through many ups and downs.

“We never threw the toys out of the pram and I think that is another challenge for us, to demonstrate as a team that we can move on from difficult circumstances.”

Hamilton suffered power unit problems in qualifying for the two races before Barcelona, starting at the back in China and from 10th place in Russia, but retained his composure.

The champion, still 43 points behind Rosberg with 16 races to go, said on Sunday that his first thoughts were for the team.

“That was the most gutting thing when I stopped, just thinking about all these guys that work so hard in this team to give me the opportunity to race today. To not deliver for them … is a very painful experience for all of us.”

Wolff said both drivers knew what was expected and he was “100 percent sure” it would not influence the way they worked as a team.

Seven-up Nico Rosberg Strolls to Win in Russian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg stormed to win Russian GP ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari;s Kimi Raikkonen. Rosberg is now the fourth driver in Formula One history to record seven successive wins

Sochi: Nico Rosberg became only the fourth driver in Formula One history to record seven successive wins when he cruised to victory ahead of Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s incident-filled Russian Grand Prix.

The 30-year-old German started from pole position and produced an imperious performance as he pulled clear of the field to take his fourth win of the 2016 season and the 18th of his career.

He won the final three races of 2015 and is now unbeaten since defending three time world champion Briton Hamilton triumphed in last year’s United States Grand Prix to secure the championship.

The only three men to have reeled off seven straight wins were Italian Alberto Ascari and Germans Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, whose race on Sunday was ended by a first lap accident.

Hamilton, who started 10th, avoided the carnage of a first lap multiple collision that eliminated Vettel to sear through the field and, briefly, threaten a challenge for the lead.

Vettel’s Ferrari was hit by Russian rival Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull, who twice rammed into his car.

Kyvat had sparked anger from Vettel last time out in China when bumping into him again on the first lap.

Hamilton’s race, however, was stymied by further mechanical problems.

He had suffered an engine failure in qualifying on Saturday and he was forced to nurse his Mercedes home 25 seconds behind the rampant Rosberg.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen finished third in the second Ferrari ahead of compatriot Valtteri Bottas and his Williams team-mate Brazilian Felipe Massa.

Fernando Alonso came home a much-improved sixth for McLaren ahead of Kevin Magnussen of Renault, Romain Grosjean for Haas, Sergio Perez of Force India and 2009 champion Jenson Button who was 10th in the second McLaren.

Rosberg’s win increased his lead in the drivers championship to 43 points, ahead of Hamilton, after four of this year’s 21 races.

Force India Bags Two Points at Russian GP As Sergio Perez Finishes Ninth

Sergio Perez finished ninth at Russian Grnd Prix to garner two points for Force India. Nico Hulkenberg could not finish he race due to a crash

Sochi: Sahara Force India driver Sergio Perez finished ninth to collect two points while teammate Nico Hulkenberg crashed out in a chaotic first lap in an incident filled Russian Grand Prix here on Sunday.

Perez delivered a strong recovery drive after suffering a lap one puncture. Hulkenberg, on the other hand, was out of luck after being hit by Esteban Gutierrez at turn two of the first lap, which ended his race.

Perez said he would have finished higher had not the first lap puncture did not happen.

“It’s obviously good to come away with my first points of the year, but without the puncture on lap one the result today could have been so much better. I did not get the best start, but I found a good line going into turn two and I was ahead of Ricciardo and Vettel coming out of the corner. Then I realised I had a puncture, which dropped me to the back of the field,” Perez said.

“After that it was a recovery drive and I managed to get back up to ninth place just behind Grosjean. I had a quicker car and fresher tyres, but he had very good traction and I just could not get close enough to make a move. It’s a shame not to score more points because we did everything right today, but we were just really unlucky,” added the Mexican.

Hulkenberg said he was disappointed to end the race in a chaotic collision.

“It was a very frustrating end to my weekend. I got to turn two and felt a big shove from behind: Esteban (Gutierrez) out-braked himself, hit me and spun me around. I was hit by other cars and the damage was too much to even attempt to continue. It’s very disappointing and not the way I wanted to celebrate my 100th race weekend,” he said.

“Hopefully our luck will change soon as we have been very unlucky lately. We should have some upgrades in Spain and I want to be back scoring the points we deserve,” said the German driver.

Nico Rosberg Wins Russian Grand Prix As Lewis Hamilton Takes Second

Nico Rosberg Wins Russian Grand Prix As Lewis Hamilton Takes Second

Sochi: Nico Rosberg cruised to victory in the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday as his title rival and teammate Lewis Hamilton dodged crashes and battled through the pack for second.

Rosberg has won all four of this season’s races – seven in a row including victories from last season – and has a hefty 43-point lead over Hamilton in the title race.

“It’s been an awesome weekend, the car has been fantastic. Very, very happy, thanks to everybody,” Rosberg said.

Pole position and the unbeatable pace of the Mercedes meant Rosberg faced little competition as he won by 25 seconds from Hamilton, who had to fight through the field after starting 10th due to a technical failure in qualifying.

Already up to fifth after an incident-packed first lap in which Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel crashed out, Hamilton passed both Williams cars and the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen to take and hold second.

Hamilton had been closing in on Rosberg in the second half of the race, but backed off after the team warned him of a water-pressure problem. Whether he could have caught Rosberg was doubtful the German demonstrated he could produce blistering pace when needed with a fast lap just before the end.

“The car felt good. At that time, I was lapping a little quicker than Nico, I was chewing away at (his lead),” said Hamilton, adding he had no idea how serious the problem with his car was. “At that point was when I had to back off and I was a second slower.”

Raikkonen was third, 6.9 seconds behind Hamilton. Following another race in which Ferrari was far behind Mercedes, the Finn said the result was “not exactly what we want, we want to win races.” Raikkonen is third in the standings, 57 points behind Rosberg.

After the chaotic first lap that featured three retirements, the safety car came out and at the restart on lap 5, Hamilton jumped the Williams of Felipe Massa for fourth and then blasted past Raikkonen’s Ferrari three laps later to take third.

Rosberg took full advantage of Mercedes’ untouchable pace this weekend in Russia, quickly building a solid lead.

After the race’s only round of stops, Hamilton remained stuck behind Valtteri Bottas’ Williams, but passed him swiftly. However, he remained 13 seconds behind Rosberg at the halfway point.

Mercedes had flown in a fuel system part by private jet ahead of the race in the rush to repair Hamilton’s car following a power unit failure in qualifying. The water pressure problem raised the specter of a repeat failure and ended the battle for the lead.

Rosberg became the first driver other than Hamilton to win in Sochi since the Russian race was added to the calendar in 2014, and received his trophy from President Vladimir Putin.

Fourth went to Bottas, ahead of Massa and Fernando Alonso, who achieved McLaren’s best finish of the season with sixth place. Renault’s Kevin Magnussen was seventh, with eighth for Romain Grosjean of Haas, followed by Force India’s Sergio Perez and the second McLaren of Jenson Button.

Vettel’s second non-finish of the season leaves him 67 points behind Rosberg and it will likely be extremely hard for anyone else to challenge Mercedes, whose cars are hugely dominant for the third season in a row.

Vettel, who had already been dropped to seventh on the grid by a penalty, saw his race ended on the first lap after he was knocked into the wall.

Daniil Kvyat of Red Bull, who had also collided with Vettel at the last race in China, struck the Ferrari driver twice on the first lap, the second time punting him into the wall. Vettel vented his anger at the poor driving. “Honestly, what are we doing here?” he lamented in an expletive-filled rant over team radio.

Kvyat was given a stop-go penalty that ended his hopes for points and finished a disappointing 15th at his home race, a result unlikely to curb speculation that Red Bull could be eyeing Max Verstappen to take over the Russian’s seat. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo was also damaged in the first-lap chaos and finished 11th.

At the back of the field, Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Manor’s Rio Haryanto both retired on the first lap in a tangle caused by Esteban Gutierrez of Haas.

Verstappen was running strongly in sixth for Toro Rosso but his race ended on lap 35 with an engine failure.

Formula One Reaches Deal on Making Engines Cheaper

Formula One Reaches Deal on Making Engines Cheaper

Sochi: Formula One bosses have reached a deal to make engines cheaper and more standardised starting next season, which will help smaller teams, the FIA said Friday.

The agreement on power units the combination of turbocharged engines and a hybrid energy recovery system also contains an “obligation to supply” provision to stop teams being left without a power unit supplier.

However, that provision would not appear to apply in cases such as that of Red Bull last year, when the team tried to leave a contract with Renault but was unable to find an alternative.

The FIA said in a statement that teams will pay 1 million euros ($1.14 million) less for next season and 3 million euros ($3.43 million) less in 2018 when buying from the four manufacturers, Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda.

The FIA added that “a package of measures aimed at achieving performance convergence” will mean the scrapping of the controversial token system allowing each supplier a certain number of power unit updates each season, plus new restrictions on turbo boost and various engine parts.

The deal also affects the sound of the engines, which has been criticized since the 1.6-liter turbo engines were introduced in 2014.

“Manufacturers are currently conducting a promising research program into further improving the sound of the current power units, with the aim of implementation by 2018 at the latest,” the FIA said.

The agreement has the blessing of “all levels of the F1 governance structure,” the FIA added.

Lewis Hamilton Back on Top in Second Russian GP Practice

Lewis Hamilton Back on Top in Second Russian GP Practice

World champion Lewis Hamilton bounced back to top the times ahead of Sebastian Vettel in Friday’s second practice ahead of Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.

The 31-year-old Briton, who is 36 points adrift of Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in the standings after three races, was second-fastest behind him in the first session.

But he rediscovered his mojo in the second session to clock a best lap in one minute and 37.583 seconds, more than six-tenths of a second quicker than nearest rival Vettel, who suffered further reliability problems.

Rosberg was third in the second Mercedes, eight-tenths off Hamilton’s pace, with Finn Kimi Raikkonen fourth in the second Ferrari.

Vettel was forced to stop on track with an electrical failure on his Ferrari after half an hour and spent much of the remainder of the session making notes and drawings in a luxurious notepad.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fifth for Red Bull, having ‘tested’ the team’s latest cockpit safety device on his installation lap in the morning, with Finn Valtteri Bottas sixth for Williams.

Local hero Daniil Kvyat was seventh on his ‘home’ Sochi Autodrom circuit in the second Red Bull ahead of the two much improved McLaren Hondas of Jenson Button, who was eighth, and Fernando Alonso, who was 10th, the pair sandwiching Brazilian Felipe Massa of Williams in ninth spot.

Sebastian Vettel Takes Five-place Grid Penalty in Russian GP

Sebastian Vettel Takes Five-place Grid Penalty in Russian GP

Sebastian Vettel will start on Sundays Russian Grand Prix with a five place grid penalty after his Ferrari team on Friday decided to change his cars gearbox.

The four-time world champion had earlier stopped out on track during second practice when his car failed due to an electrical problem.

He was second fastest in the afternoon session behind defending three time world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.

Vettel has admitted he and Ferrari are under pressure to improve results after seeing Hamiltons team-mate Nico Rosberg reel off three season-opening wins to lead the title race by 36 points.

Hamilton is also using a new gearbox this weekend, but this follows him replacing one at the Chinese Grand Prix where he took a grid penalty. He has no grid penalty for this race.

Formula One Backs Cheaper Engine Deal for 2017

Formula One Backs Cheaper Engine Deal for 2017

Motor racings ruling body the International Motoring Federation (FIA) on Friday confirmed a new “global agreement on power units” in Formula One for 2017-2020.

The confirmation of revisions agreed by all four engine manufacturers involved came after months of discussions and followed an e-vote ratification from the F1 Commission, the FIA said in a statement.

The FIA added that the new plan – for cheaper engines and closer racing — had the support of the sports veteran commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

The plan embraces agreement by the engine manufacturers to back a long-term plan to reduce the number of power-units used to just three per driver from 2018.

The plan also brings in the use of standard parts, common installations for energy storage and control electronic systems.

It is hoped to reduce the costs for customer teams by one million euros for 2017 and by three million for 2018.

Manufacturers are also expected to commit to guaranteeing to supply power units at a fixed cost for all teams, following Red Bull’s embarrassing hunt for new engines last year.

Nico Rosberg Leads Hamilton in First Russian GP Practice

Nico Rosberg Leads Hamilton in First Russian GP Practice

Sochi: Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg kept Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton off the top of the timesheets in first practice for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday.

The German, who is chasing his seventh win in a row and fourth of the season, lapped Sochi’s Olympic Park circuit with a best time of one minute 38.127 seconds set on the supersoft tyres.

Triple world champion Hamilton, the only driver to have won in Russia since the race’s debut in 2014 but now 36 points behind Rosberg with 18 rounds remaining, was second fastest in 1:38.849.

The Mercedes pair, who have won 35 of the last 41 races between them, were comfortably ahead of the rest with Rosberg more than a second faster than Sebastian Vettel’s third placed Ferrari, although the latter was using slower soft tyres.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fourth in 1:39.332 with the Mercedes-powered Williams of Brazilian Felipe Massa fifth despite spending much of the session watching his mechanics working on the car.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who tested a new head protection device at the start of the session, was sixth for Red Bull.

Russian test driver Sergey Sirotkin, who will be competing again in the GP2 support series this season, replaced Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen for the session and lapped nearly a second faster than regular race driver Jolyon Palmer in the other Renault.

Sirotkin ended up 13th fastest with Palmer 18th.

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