Red Bull and Honda in talks over engine deal
Red Bull and Honda have opened discussions about a possible engine deal for 2019. The Red Bull team are in the final season of their current deal with Renault, but it looks likely that the deal will not continue beyond the end of this season.
After winning four championships between 2010-13, the relationship has become increasingly strained and fractious as the French manufacturer has struggled to deliver a power unit allowing the team to fight at the front.
Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso switched to Honda this year, with many believing that the decision was prompted as a season to allow the Japanese manufacturer to resolve issues ahead of teaming up with Red Bull for 2018.
In Baku at the weekend, Honda’s F1 boss Masahi Yamamoto met with Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko. Yamamoto told F1.com “Because it was the very first meeting, we discussed the conditions of both sides, what do we expect of each other. It was the first discussion.”
“Yes, it was positive. We do believe we were both satisfied. There’s a good relationship between us. However, it’s the first time we have an official meeting. It’s the starting point for a potential future.” However, the deal needs to be done by the fifteenth of May.
The deadline is one where the manufacturers must inform the FIA which teams they will be supplying next season. Yamamoto said that it has to be smooth and the Honda board needed to discuss the decision first.
Hamilton questions Vettel’s restart
Lewis Hamilton believes that Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel broke the rules of a restart behind the safety car in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
At the first restart, leader Vettel slowed the field down and waited until the last possible moment to accelerate, in an attempt to minimise the run to the first corner and prevent others benefiting from his tow. Hamilton believes that the German first slowed then accelerated before going for the restart.
Race control looked at the incident but decided that the same sort of behaviour was happening up and down the field, and no action was taken. Hamilton believes what Vettel did was wrong and suggested he might talk to F1 race director Charlie Whiting about it.
He told Motorsport.com “The rules are, when the safety car goes, you are not allowed to start, stop, start, stop. You’re not allowed to gas, and then brake. You’re not allowed to fake the guy behind, because naturally if there was not that rule, that’s what you would do.”
“You’re not allowed to do that. You’re allowed to weave, but you’re not allowed to start, stop, start, stop.” Hamilton says Vettel did the same thing in Melbourne and he would speak to race director Charlie Whiting.
Whiting was adamant that Vettel had done nothing out of the ordinary, and that it’s the right of the leader to set the pace, as long as he doesn’t make a dangerous move.
Twitter announces rights deal with F1
Formula One and Twitter have agreed on a deal for the social media platform to gain an exclusive show and videos starting from next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.
The deal will give Twitter exclusive highlights and an F1 Live Show from ten of the remaining races. F1 Live Show will be hosted by Will Buxton and starts from the Spanish GP, will take place immediately after the podium ceremony and feature analysis and interviews with leading figures.
Buxton will be joined by famous F1 figures too, with former world champion Nico Rosberg already having been confirmed to take part.
The deal comes as F1 prepares to launch its own streaming service for selected regions next weekend. Theoretically put F1 in competition for viewers with television broadcasters’ own post-race shows, the Twitter deal is a good one for Liberty Media as it helps secure it another revenue stream.
F1 director of digital and new media, Frank Arthofer said: “On the heels of the of F1 TV launch announcement, we are thrilled to announce a new initiative aimed at expanding our fan engagement and monetization strategy on Twitter.”
“Twitter came to us early on with an emphasis on co-producing original live content to extend the race weekend dialogue.”
Pirelli announces tyre allocation for Barcelona
Pirelli has announced the driver’s tyre allocations for next weekends Spanish Grand Prix. For the race at the Circuit de Catalunya – Barcelona the manufacturer has gone a step softer than last year with the medium, softs and supersoft tyres.
The Spanish Grand Prix will be the first of three races where Pirelli is running modified rubber, with the FIA having granted the supplier’s request to allow it bring tyres with lower tread thickness.
Most of the teams have chosen the same allocations for both drivers. Both Mercedes have five supersofts and softs, while they also have three mediums. While the Ferrari’s have gone for seven supersofts, four softs and two mediums.
Both Red Bull’s and McLaren’s have six supersofts, four softs and three mediums. While Force India have six supersofts, three softs and four mediums. Toro Rosso’s have seven supersofts, and three of both the softs and mediums.
Renault has gone for eight supersofts, two softs and three mediums. Haas and Sauber have chosen seven supersofts for both drivers, but Romain Grosjean and Charles Leclerc has spilt the remaining six to give him three of bot the softs and mediums, their teammates Kevin Magnussen and Marcus Ericsson has four softs and two hards.
Williams is one of three teams to slightly vary the selection between driver’s, with Lance Stroll having nine supersofts, three mediums and teammate Sergey Sirotkin having ten supersofts, two mediums while they both have one soft.
“Crazy” to be fighting Alonso – Leclerc
Sauber’s Charles Leclerc says it felt “crazy” to be fighting with Fernando Alonso and other top teams in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Leclerc became the first Monegasque to score a point in Formula One when he finished sixth in Baku.
The Monegasque held off an attack from McLaren’s Fernando Alonso to gain the teams best result since 2015, after using fresher tyres to pass the two-time world champion down the inside of Turn 1 midway through the race.
Speaking to media after the race, Leclerc said it was “definitely” satisfying to have managed an overtake on Alonso this early in his F1 career, adding: “I mean, Fernando was a driver I was watching when I was five years old in Monaco, so to race with him today is quite crazy.
“And yeah, to have been able to fight with him – okay, we had a tyre advantage, but even at the end of the race we were looking strong compared to McLaren.”
The current F2 champion also admitted that it was a shock to be matching the pace of Red Bull and keeping the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen behind was something of a shock.
Asked whether he was surprised to run close to the Red Bulls, even accounting for the Austrian team’s early-race battery woes, Leclerc said: “Yeah, exactly. Also actually with Renault, when I had some clear laps, I could really stay with them.”
Force India announces line up for Barcelona test
Force India has announced they will have three junior drivers drive for them at the third Barcelona test following the Spanish Grand Prix. The team will run both test and reserve driver Nicholas Latifi will share a car with development driver Nikita Mazepin.
While the second car will be driven by Mercedes junior driver George Russel, carrying out tyre testing for Pirelli. Latifi will also drive for the team in practice for his home Grand Prix next month in Montreal. Mazepin was the first driver to get behind the wheel of Force India’s 2018 car when he replaced Latifi on day one of the first Barcelona test earlier this year.
Russell will drive for Force India on the Tuesday of the test, with Latifi taking over Pirelli testing duties on Wednesday. The British driver is also expected to drive for Mercedes at either the Budapest or Abu Dhabi.