FER­RARI VOW TO FIGHT LEWIS HAMILTON TO THE BIT­TER END OF 2017 SEA­SON

Daily Nation Newspaper - - SPORTS FEATURES -

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.

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