Bernie Ecclestone was back in the headlines on a frantic day of F1 news on Thursday, with the former F1 supremo having appeared in court.
He pleaded guilty to fraud in a landmark moment in his off-track life, but there has been plenty more going on besides.
It’s been a busy day, so let’s dive into Thursday’s F1 news headlines.
Bernie Ecclestone given suspended sentence and will pay £652m after fraud charges
Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone was in court on Thursday charged with fraud, after failing to disclose £400m worth of assets to British authorities.
He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at Southwark Crown Court, and the 92-year-old agreed to pay more than £652m as a settlement in a civil case.
The judge sentenced him to 17 months in prison, suspended for two years, as Ecclestone changed from an earlier not guilty plea in a separate trial in the summer.
Rich Energy CEO claps eyes on football takeover
William Storey, whose brief but dramatic foray into Formula 1 with Haas ended several years ago, is in the headlines in football as he is looking to complete a £50m takeover of League One club Reading, as first reported by the Telegraph.
The Royals were relegated from the Championship last season and their current owner, Dai Yongge, is subject to significant fan protests due to the multiple points deductions that have come the club’s way due to breaches of Football League profit and sustainability rules, alongside failure to pay wages on time on several occasions in recent months.
The club is up for sale and Storey has been pictured at the club’s Bearwood Park training facility, though Reading themselves released a statement on Thursday afternoon to clarify that no takeover deal has been completed yet.
Andretti face possible power unit issue as Renault deal expires
Andretti’s bid to reach Formula 1 has been approved by the FIA, but while it has yet to go through FOM, the team had a preliminary deal in place to run with Renault power until such a time Cadillac are ready to compete in the sport properly.
Alpine’s interim team principal Bruno Famin confirmed the deal Andretti had put in place with Renault has now expired, and the French manufacturer’s priorities have now shifted from gaining a customer team – to provide a frame of reference for Alpine – to putting full focus on their 2026 power unit.
But FIA regulations may yet come to Andretti’s aid if they do end up receiving approval to join the grid in the 2025 season…
Helmut Marko puts two-race timeline for Sergio Perez improvement
Helmut Marko has never been one to mince his words about his drivers, and his latest comments about Sergio Perez suggest he may already be looking for quick improvement from the Red Bull driver.
“You must not forget: I brought Perez into the team back then,” Marko stated to OE24 in Austria when asked about his public criticism of the Mexican.
“But that’s simply the fate with Verstappen that he’s suffering now. That was already the case with Gasly. From that point of view, Perez needs a change of climate and team. Now we’ll see how the next two races go. But the team and he are aware that he is in a crisis.”
Mercedes reveal secret to McLaren improvement
Mercedes technical director James Allison has tried to put his finger on where he feels McLaren have made significant strides compared to the rest of the field in recent weeks.
McLaren have flown up the Formula 1 pecking order after almost scrapping the concept of the MCL60 to start again after seeing how the car was shaping up in Bahrain testing, with huge upgrade packages brought throughout the season.
And Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz revealed that, in conversation with Allison, he found out where he believes McLaren have made the biggest gains.
“James Allison from Mercedes said ‘you look at where the Red Bull is strong, where the McLaren is strong and it’s in that kind 220 to 250kph bracket,’ which kind of meant that in those medium to high-speed corners,” Kravitz said on the Sky Sports F1 podcast.
“There it absolutely gains a huge amount of time. On the balance of the tracks that we have nowadays, that’s a significant number of corners that are at that speed range. That’s where the McLaren has really made huge gains. Alright, it’s not so great in the low speed corners but they can sort of figure that out but it’s clearly a good car.”