The Pit Stop: All The Big Stories Ahead Of The Canadian Grand Prix

These are the biggest stories of the week in the world of Formula One
07:00, 11 Jun 2023

Last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen joined by the two Mercedes’ drivers on the podium after a stellar week of development from the German side. Next up, the European stint of races is broken as the paddock heads to Montreal, Canada, the site of many tremendous races of the last few decades. 

However, the breaks between races are consistent and long in 2023, so we’ve taken a look at the biggest stories of the week while we wait. 

Horner and Wolff Continue War Of Words

Fans of Formula 1 won’t be surprised to know that Red Bull boss Christian Horner and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff aren’t great fans of each other. Their relationship deteriorated to breaking point during the 2021 season when the two teams were battling for the World Drivers’ Championship, culminating in the famous finale in Abu Dhabi that saw Max Verstappen win his first championship. 

This week, however, has seen posturing from both sides after Mercedes made significant improvements in Barcelona, with both drivers for the German outfit finishing on the podium behind Verstappen. Wolff admitted that, although the best teams often do reap their rewards in F1, Red Bull’s domination is bad for the sport.

Speaking Austrian news outlet OE24, Wolff said “When a team does a better job, you have to acknowledge it without envy. Red Bull made the best of the situation and did the best job. We’re trying.”

Asked whether Red Bull could prevent any other team from winning a race this season, he replied: “I hope not because that would not be good for F1. But they have a car with which this is possible."

Red Bull responded with Horner insisting that their rivals this season were not Mercedes and were in fact Aston Martin. Speaking after the race, Horner commented, “For sure they’ve made a step, they’ve introduced pretty much a B-spec car.

“They must have used a significant proportion of their development budget on that. And when I look at the gap at the end of the race it’s very similar to where it was in Bahrain. All that’s happening is the running order behind us seems to vary from race to race.”


Liberty Media Discusses New Concorde Agreement

The overlords of Liberty Media are discussing the terms of a new Concorde agreement between the FIA, Formula 1 and teams involved in the sport. Often these terms include the distribution of prize money and restrictions around races, with the current agreement (signed in 2020) limiting the amount to 23 per calendar year. 

The major sticking point for F1 boss Stefano Domencali is the attraction of new teams, as well as increasing the number of races that the teams will allow per year, with the recent addition of Las Vegas and future Grands Prix that could be added. By allowing teams to have more favourable terms, it’s likely that the cap on races will increase to around 25 per year. 

Audi are already on their way into the sport when their takeover of Sauber in 2026 is complete, and Red Bull reportedly rejected an offer of $800 million for their sister team AlphaTauri, showing how valuable a spot on the grid is.

Former Ferrari boss Domenicali has already expressed his desire to become a 12-team grid, but teams are demanding changes to the joining fee, which currently sits at $200 million, and distribution of the joining teams’ prize money for the first year. Rumours say with a new agreement, this fee is likely to rise to over $1 billion, with the prize money being left alone this time around. 

Potential teams that might get involved include Porsche, who were rebuffed by Red Bull for the role of engine suppliers for Ford, as well as long standing interest from 1978 World Champion Mario Andretti to expand his already successful motorsport portfolio.

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Spa & Zandvoort Set To Alternate From 2024

A report from French publication Le Soir is reporting that the Belgian and Dutch Grands Prix are set to merge into one, with the two circuits alternating each season.

The report comes after Jumbo Supermarkets, the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands ended their sports sponsorship programme, with those affected including Zandvoort, Max Verstappen and further sporting projects including Team Jumbo-Visma, the cycling team behind last years’ Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard

F1 fans might not love the removal of two European circuits from the track, with the increase in less-exciting Middle Eastern and American street circuits replacing them.

Spa-Francorchamps is one of the most accessible circuits on the calendar, with reasonably priced tickets and good transport links to the rest of Europe, and with Verstappen continuing to dominate on the track, the Oranjegekte that descends to the Dutch coast won’t be happy to lose such a celebratory weekend. 

Currently, Zandvoort is contracted to have a place on the calendar until December 2025, but Spa’s contract has only recently received a one-year extension, according to Motorsport Week. A new deal will have to be negotiated by the two circuits, if they come to an agreement to alternate by the end of 2024. 

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