Sauber needs to be honest with failings
Sauber’s team principal Fred Vasseur says the team needs to be “honest” about the teams own failings with aerodynamic deficiencies in 2017, rather than blaming the fact they were using year old Ferrari engines.
Last season Sauber finished last in the constructors championship only managing to score five points. Though the team were using a year old Ferrari engine, Vasseur says that cannot be used as an excuse for underperformance.
He told Autosport “We have to honest with ourselves. The biggest issue wasn’t the engine. The engine was 2016, but the handicap was only a couple of tenths.”
“If you compare with the other teams, the biggest issue was on the chassis side, and we have to be focused on this and push like hell on the aero.” Sauber has increased its relationship with Ferrari which will see sister brand Alfa Romeo as its title sponsor and Ferrari protege Charles Leclerc in a race seat, as well as getting latest-specification engines.
Marcus Ericsson, however, says that the engine deficit was genuine, pointing to the fact the team dropped back following the summer break. He says that he knew from the start of the season that Sauber would drop behind.
Ericsson said “Straight away when I heard the news that Sauber was going to use the old power unit you knew it was not going to be good. Everyone could see what happened with Toro Rosso [using old Ferrari engines in 2016] so there was no surprise there.
“You have to still try to look at it in a positive way, and say that we’ll focus more on the chassis side, and we did, but it was going to be a big handicap.”
McLaren biggest challenge is expectations
McLaren bosses admit that their biggest challenges this year will be keeping the team’s expectations under control. The teams switch from Honda to Renault engines has raised hopes that the team will be able to be back near the front, following three years of frustration with Honda engines.
Although the team has set their sights on podiums and wins this season, both racing director Eric Boullier and executive director Zak Brown know there are dangers that come from people expecting too much too soon.
Boullier told Motorsport.com: “It is part of the game, but we need to keep it under control. We need to make sure that there are no strong comments – and we keep just one line: which is under promise and over deliver. That is the key.”
The Frenchman is aware of the excitement within the team after three tough seasons with Honda, but is also wanting the team not to get ahead of themselves. He says “Emotionally it is hard and it is part of my job to manage that – even if I am a bit more Latin than most of my British colleagues. You have to keep it under control.”
Brown says that the team risks getting carried away with expectations, and it was important not to put itself under too much pressure too soon. Saying that the switch to Renault “does come with more pressure, but everyone is going to rise to the occasion. It has been a while since we have been at the front, so we need to make sure that expectations aren’t over the top for Australia.”
He also says that there are areas where McLaren needs to improve, like pit stops where the team needs to improve. Boullier also suggested that keeping a lid on emotions would have to carry on past the season opener in Australia too – because a too successful start would bring some negatives as well.
Ecclestone attacks the ban of Grid Girls
Formula One’s chairman emeritus Bernie Ecclestone has attacked the decision made by the sports owners Liberty Media to scrap the use of grid girls from this season.
The eighty-seven year old says that he cannot see why a “good-looking” woman standing next to a driver at the start of a race could be “offensive”. Telling The Sun newspaper it was a sign the UK was becoming “prudish”.
On Wednesday Liberty announced the practice would be banned from the 2018 season, saying that using women on start lines was “clearly… at odds with modern-day societal norms”. Women are often seen carrying the drivers’ standards which indicate their race numbers and their location on the starting line.
Speaking to The Sun, Ecclestone said “The country at the moment is getting a bit prudish. You should be allowed to have grid girls because the drivers like them, the audience like them and no one cares.”
“These girls were… part of the spectacle. I can’t see how a good-looking girl standing with a driver and a number in front of a Formula One car can be offensive to anybody.”
Ecclestone has often been outspoken about the role of women in the sport and in society. He told an advertising conference that female drivers would “not be taken seriously” in Formula One and they are “not physically” able to drive cars that fast.
Several so-called grid girls have leapt to the defence of those who stand to lose their jobs as a result of the move.
Lauren-Jade Pope, a “grid girl and promo model”, tweeted: “Because of these feminists, they’ve have cost us our jobs! I have been a grid girl for 8 years and I have Never felt uncomfortable! I love my job, if I didn’t I wouldn’t do it! Noone forces us to do this! This is our choice!”
Changes to start times confirmed
Formula One bosses have confirmed that races will be moved back at least by an hour this season, with the French Grand Prix being moved back two hours to avoid a clash with England v Panama at the world cup in Nizhny Novgorod.
This year’s regulation changes has allowed Liberty Media to create a more flexible timetable. However, the change in start time will not affect races in Asia and the Americas, as well as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Most races and qualifying will move to 13:10GMT (14:10BST / 15:10CEST) during the summer months to create more flexible. The change does apply to the Bahrain Grand Prix, which will now start at 18:10 local or 15:10 (16:10BST). However does not affect the Japanese, Chinese and Australian Grand Prix’s, which will only move back ten minutes.
According to Liberty ‘Some broadcasters usually go on air precisely on the hour, hence missing the tension and emotion that characterize the minutes before the start of each Grand Prix. Thanks to this change, television viewers will be brought closer to the teams and the drivers and fully enjoy the spectacle offered just before the red lights go out.’
Liberty is hoping that the change will increase TV audiences by making the sport more accommodating. In a statement, they said, “Research has indicated that a wider TV audience is reachable later in the afternoons, especially in the summer months.”
“Consequently, it has been decided to move the schedule of every session back by one hour across the whole weekend.”
Friday Local UK Time
Practice 1 – 11:00-12:30, 10:00-11:30
Practice 2 – 15:00-16:30, 14:00-15:00
Practice 3 – 12:00-13:00, 11:00-12:00
Qualifying – 15:00-16:00, 14:00-15:00
Race – 15:10, 14:10
Barrichello recovering from health scare
Rubens Barrichello is recovering well in hospital following a health scare last weekend. The former Ferrari and Brawn driver who raced between 1994 and 2012 said he was admitted to hospital on Saturday after suffering a severe headache.
Speaking from his hospital bed in a message posted on his Instagram feed, Barrichello explained that he was still undergoing checks but vowed to be back racing soon. He did not offer any details of what was wrong, beyond suggesting that a severe headache he had suffered was related to a vein problem.
He said “On Saturday I decided to wake up and have a shower. I felt a terrible headache. Luckily my wife was there and she called a friend doctor who took me to the hospital, they they took really good care of me.”
“I had a small problem on a vein, but I want to tell you that I am feeling great. I am still going through exams and so on, but I am honestly great and the difficulties in life are the ones who show us how to grow and how to be better.”