Daniel Ricciardo was showing “miserable pace” during the Chinese Grand Prix according to team principal Cyril Abiteboul, despite his ‘best of the rest’ performance which saw him claim his first finish – and first points – as a Renault driver.
The Australian went on a one-stop strategy for the second race in a row, despite it completely backfiring on him in Bahrain when he slipped to 10th before being forced to retire with just two laps remaining.
Ricciardo was obliged to start on the quick, softer tyre after using it in Q2, leading Renault to decide on a one-stop strategy once again – swapping his softs for hards – in order to protect him against other midfield teams who qualified further back and were therefore allowed to start on the more favourable medium tyre.
Despite Ricciardo being lapped, the strategy worked and he finished a fairly comfortable seventh, never really at threat of being overtaken or overtaking himself.
“It think it was a more solid performance than it looks,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com. “It was extremely challenging to make the one-stop work, starting on the soft compound.
“We had to face the usual dilemma of starting from P7 to P10 with our kind of pace, and having to start on the softest compound, and still make it work.
“We knew that anyone from P11 onwards would be starting on the medium, and the top five would be starting on the medium, there was no point in trying to do some crazy stuff just trying to look for Gasly at this point in time. That P7 was the target, and we achieved that.”
However, despite achieving the intended P7 finish, Abiteboul said the result was “nothing to be proud of” and that he was afraid the strategy would make Renault look slow and not give a good impression of the true potential of the car.
Daniel Ricciardo has vowed to defend himself after the Aussie F1 star’s former advisor reportedly started legal action over what he alleges are unpaid earnings.
Per Motorsport.com and the BBC, Glenn Beavis has taken the matter to the United Kingdom High Court of Justice and is claiming he is owed nearly $AUD18 million because he has not received commissions relating to Ricciardo’s lucrative new contract with Renault, who the 30-year-old driver joined this year.
According to the reports, Beavis has lodged legal documents with the High Court, arguing he is owed approximately $18m for “various sums due in accordance with the commission agreed between the parties”.
Ricciardo left Red Bull at the end of 2018 and made the shock decision to join Renault on a two-year deal. Reports circulated in the British press earlier this year claiming Ricciardo’s salary was nudging $50 million but the West Australian rubbished those suggestions.
Ricciardo issued a statement to Motorsport.com about the $18 million bombshell in which he said: “There is no substance to Glenn Beavis’ claim.
“It is unfortunate that he has decided to bring this wholly unmeritorious claim which I intend to fully defend in the court process.”
Ricciardo’s lawyer Jeremy Courtenay-Stamp of The Ebury Partnership told the BBC there was “no merit” to Beavis’ claim.
“Daniel’s position is very clear — there is no merit whatsoever in relation to this claim and we are going to defend it absolutely fully,” Courtenay-Stamp said.
“You’ll have only seen his claim so far. You won’t have seen our defence because it hasn’t been filed. But it will be filed and it will entirely refute the claim that Beavis is making.”
Beavis filed his lawsuit earlier in July, claiming the arrangement he had with Ricciardo saw him earn a 20 per cent commission on deals which he took care of.
As reported by Motorsport.com and the BBC, Beavis claims he started discussions with Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul in 2017 about Ricciardo leaving Red Bull and joining the French team. The switch was finalised in August last year and Beavis reportedly believes he is entitled to commissions related to that deal.
Beavis’ lawsuit claims Ricciardo said he wanted to end their working relationship last December but Beavis continued in his role for several more months to sort through “outstanding matters … including negotiating the long form of the Renault driver contracts”.
That “long form” contract was finalised on March 7 — shortly before the season-opening grand prix in Melbourne — and Beavis claims he worked for Ricciardo until March 31 before they ended their professional relationship.
Earlier this year Ricciardo’s legal representatives said in a letter Beavis “has no entitlement to the commission, or to any other form or amount of commission, in relation to the Renault contract”.
Mack Horton’s bitter rivalry with Sun Yang is set to intensify as Chinese media hit out at the Aussie for protesting at the World Championships.
It comes as former CEO of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) Richard Ings has elaborated on why he believes the swimming star was out of line to snub his nemesis.
Horton, who won the silver medal in the 400m freestyle, refused to stand on the podium alongside gold medallist Yang, and also refused to shake his Chinese rival’s hand.
The pair’s bad blood goes back to the 2016 Olympics, when Horton said he had “no time or respect for drug cheats” after Yang served a three-month doping ban in 2014.
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Yang also recently escaped sanction following accusations he smashed vials of his blood with a hammer when visited by drug testers last year. He is awaiting a hearing with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to see whether he will face any punishment — including a potential lifetime ban — after the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) appealed the initial not-guilty verdict, which was reached by an independent panel of swimming’s governing body FINA.
The Australian reports The China Daily also said Horton showed a “lack of respect” which was “violated the spirit of sports”.
“His behaviour will make his silver medal less glorious,” the publication allegedly added.
However, Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell is standing by Horton.
“Swimming Australia respects the position Mack Horton took during the medal ceremony and understands his sense of frustration,” she said in a statement, as reported by AAP.
Horton and Yang will contest the 800m heats on Tuesday, writing another chapter in their bitter feud which will provide more drama if they both qualify for the final.
While many — including a host of fellow swimmers — have publicly praised Horton for taking a stand, Ings believes the Aussie was in the wrong.
The strong advocate for getting rid of doping in sport, who was CEO of ASADA from 2005-2010, has been active on Twitter about his concerns with the protest and gave a radio interview on Monday night where he further explained his position.
Ings said Horton was wading into dangerous territory because whatever he thinks of Yang, he hasn’t technically been found guilty of anything in relation to his latest controversy.
“Athletes are innocent unless and until an anti-doping tribunal finds them guilty, and in the case of Sun Yang, there was an incident regarding a refusal (to provide a blood sample), a very contentious incident,” Ings said on SEN’s The Sporting Capital.
“This matter was heard by a FINA anti-doping panel. They heard arguments from both sides, the panel handed down a 59-page reason decision, where they found that Sun Yang had not violated anti-doping rules.
“That’s going to be appealed by WADA to CAS. Where we stand today is he’s had his matter heard and he’s been found innocent of all charges.
“The FINA panel found that a refusal to provide a sample in this particular situation did not fall afoul of the anti-doping rules and I have to say in all of my years at ASADA, and even recently as a witness for particular athletes at CAS hearings, I have seen other situations where drug testers have failed to follow proper procedures and proper protocols and anti-doping panels have dismissed allegations against athletes for those good reasons.”
Ings said Yang’s three-month ban in 2014 was for a minor infraction, believing authorities got the punishment right. He also said, while the situation surrounding Yang allegedly destroying blood samples is murky, Horton shouldn’t be rushing to cast judgment on his rival until the CAS hearing takes place.
“One thing I do not like is when athletes are involved in making allegations against other athletes who have not, at that particular point in time, been found guilty of committing an anti-doping rule violation,” Ings said.
“We have to wait for the CAS hearing to see whether CAS will take a different view.
“The athlete beside him is contentious, he has mixed reviews in terms of popularity, but at the end of the day he was found not guilty of a doping violation and that needs to be respected.
“There’s an athlete on the other side of the fence who has faced a tribunal and has been exonerated of all charges. It will go to appeal, it will be heard by CAS, and we need to hold fire until CAS issues a final judgment in the weeks and months ahead.”
While Yang escaped sanction from the FINA anti-doping panel on charges of destroying blood samples, The Daily Telegraph reported earlier this month the 59-page report released in the aftermath of the hearing “raises serious questions about how the hot-headed Olympic champion escaped with nothing more than a warning” and “shows that he only got off on a technicality, which is why the World Anti-Doping Agency has appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport”.
Some in the swimming world are angry Yang is being allowed to compete while he waits for his hearing with CAS, insisting he should be stood down until a final verdict is reached.
It has been a big fortnight for Holden, with an announcement the eighth-generation C8 Corvette will be sold in Australia following news of the brand’s recommitment to Supercars.
Holden sprung a surprise during the Townsville weekend earlier this month when it confirmed it will stick around in 2020 and 2021, with the latter season slated for Supercars’ Next Gen evolution.
The ZB Commodore bodyshape and V8 engine will also be retained for the duration of the new deal, and while Holden’s announcement of the two-year recommitment was low-key, Holden marketing boss Kristian Aquilina suggested the relationship with factory team Triple Eight will be “celebrated” at a later date.
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The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which was unveiled in the USA last week, will be built stateside in right-hand drive form, land in local showrooms likely in late 2020 in Australia, and be sold for a price tag upwards of $150,000.
The Commodore will remain in Supercars until 2021, and Holden will have even more questions of its future beyond the new deal – but Holden managing director Dave Buttner acknowledged the brand’s Australian motorsport legacy at the Corvette announcement, leaving the door wide open.
Aquilina conceded there was “uncertainty” after reporting to the new manufacturers’ council, and with a potential shift towards a control chassis that favours two-door models, Holden’s post-2021 plans could be anything, as much as fans would also like to see the Camaro or Corvette on the grid to battle the Ford Mustang.
Regardless, Red Bull Holden team owner Roland Dane suggested the brand’s standing in Supercars – coupled with the new deal – will only get stronger.
“They [Holden] are lot more involved with Supercars than they have been for years because there is far more internal buy-in into the program then there has been for a long time,” Dane told Speedcafe.com.
“The internal recognition of the program is back to the level it was in 2012.
“The ability, from not just locally but from the US, to talk about the future of Supercars is really good and it keeps them engaged.
“There are some exciting announcements coming up very soon from GM and I think their commitment to this market will be evident.”
The Next Gen 2021 plans are “on track” according to Supercars boss Sean Seamer, with an eye on ensuring “maximum market relevance” alongside low costs, as well as providing “great entertainment” for fans.