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GP Week : Issue 176
F1 >>> NEWS w BRIEFLY » According to a report in The Times, Sky are in the frame to replace Bernie Ecclestone’s in-house organisation for F1 broadcast coverage. SkySports managing director Barney Francis was in Austin this weekend, and met with Ecclestone to discuss the possibility of Sky’s taking over the TV feed. The sweetener in the deal from the F1 supremo’s point of view is Sky’s ambition to offer full 3D coverage of the sport. The Times report states that Ecclestone’s outfit lacks the technical capacity to offer a 3D feed, but that seems unlikely given the recent partnership with Tata Communications, which while still largely untapped, affords FOM the ability to ramp up their offerings both online and on television. “We would love to do it – 3D would look sensational for Formula One,” Francis told the British newspaper. “It will be on the agenda for the conversation we have at the end of the season with FOM.” » The F1 world was this week taken aback to learn that Gary Hartstein, known to all as the F1 village doctor, had been informed that the FIA would not be renewing his contract for next season. Hartstein started working alongside Sid Watkins in 1997, and replaced the Prof as the sport’s chief medic in 2005. Writing on his Twitter feed, Hartstein revealed that he was unsure why the FIA had decided not to extend his contract. “Have just been informed that president of the FIA and president of FIA medical commission have decided not to renew my Formula 1 contract,” Hartstein tweeted. “Not sure about the ‘whys’ of the decision, but not down to me to know. Brazil will therefore be my 247th and last Formula 1 Grand Prix. It’s been a life-changing experience and something I’ll never forget.” HASTA LA VISTA, HRT When news broke that Thesan Capital had put the HRT Formula One team up on the auction block, there were many who expressed surprise that the Spanish racing outfit had made it through three seasons before folding. Because while HRT might officially be up for sale, the simple fact is that it will be almost impossible for the Spanish bankers to find a new buyer for their valueless asset. HRT have never been cash rich, and the only sellable asset they have is their F1 entry. As a backmarking team that has yet to make an impact on the points, even the entry slot is not as valuable as it should be. Given the financial woes constantly faced by HRT, and the obvious lack of interest and support from Thesan Capital, it is believed that the Spanish racers have not made much headway – if any – with the design of their 2013 challenger. Potential buyers would therefore have to start from scratch, and have little hope of making it to Melbourne having passed all the FIA crash tests. Compounding the difficulties is the fact that Formula One teams are not bought and sold via online adverts in the style of Auto Trader, despite the statement that appeared on the HRT website this week. The accepted method is to use Bernie Ecclestone as a broker, and as Thesan Capital have failed to do that, Ecclestone is unlikely to make much of an effort to help them. Thesan’s statement made for sobering reading, in no small part due to the way in which it was a total departure from the way these things are done inside the sport. “The current owners of HRT Formula 1 Team, TC II S.a.rl., would like to confirm that they are currently in talks with a number of groups interested in buying the team,” it read. “HRT Formula 1 Team’s current management hopes to conclude the sale in the upcoming weeks and, with it, enable the team to continue progressing and become a reference in modern-day Formula 1 after the important achievements already accomplished in this 2012 season. HRT Formula 1 Team hopes to communicate the name of its new owner in the upcoming weeks. “According to the HRT Formula 1 Team management, ‘we believe the moment to let new investors come through for HRT Formula 1 Team has arrived. We’re very proud of the work done by the entire team and of the excellent sporting evolution achieved but the time has come for the team to continue growing with new financial backing. We’re convinced that the sporting potential of the team is huge and that the presence of new investors can give it a big boost.’” Later in the week, F1 journalist Joe Saward reported that team members had been served with redundancy notices, so slim was the chance of a sale, but the story was not confirmed by any of the HRT staff in Austin. 6 GPWEEK.com // 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: