FERRARI VOW TO FIGHT LEWIS HAMILTON TO THE BITTER END OF 2017 SEASON
People are spending four times more. If F1 wants to become a fair sport they have to address it.” Bottas finds some form
Valtteri Bottas opened the weekend in Japan having to answer some tough questions. His early form, including two wins and two poles, had been highly encouraging and was key in Mercedes’ decision to retain him for next season but since the summer break he has been distinctly off the pace. While Hamilton went from strength to strength the Finn was going backwards. He has not managed to qualify within half a second of his team-mate in the second half of the season and has not matched him for race pace either. At Suzuka he at least partly addressed it. He was quickest in final practice but an error exiting Spoon cost him when he hit the wall. A comeback in qualifying was needed and he delivered. He was three-tenths down on Hamilton in second, and crucially 0.15sec in front of Vettel. The grid penalty ultimately cost him and his alternate strategy did not pay off in taking the race to the Red Bulls. He has serious aspirations to be a world champion but if they are to be taken seriously he must now show a real resurgence for the final four races. Some disconnect, it seems, emerged from what F1’s owner says it wants to do and how it goes about it. The Formula One Group has stressed it is committed to increasing the audience for F1 in the US. But it announced before the Japanese Grand Prix it had done a new deal for US TV coverage, switching from NBC to ESPN. The deal was arranged by the commercial director Sean Bratches, who previously worked for ESPN. The rights are understood to have been given to the broadcaster, without charge, in return for the sport’s owner retaining the rights to sell streaming coverage itself in the US – a conflict of interest NBC deemed unacceptable. It is a good deal for ESPN but is it the way to grow the sport? ESPN will broadcast all sessions but nothing around them, “shoulder content” as it is known. Perhaps most crucially it will take the world feed – F1’s coverage, with a feed commentary or that of Sky, with no dedicated US commentators, analysts or drivers. NBC broadcasts between 200 and 300 hours a season, EPSN will, it is understood, air 125. None of which appears to be the best way of building a new audience. - THE GUARDIAN
Sebastian Vettel had to retire in the Japanese Grand Prix because of a spark plug problem.