Momentum building at Red Bull
Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes momentum is building and hopes that the team can challenge Mercedes for the titles this year. After four world championships between 2010-13, the team has struggled since the introduction of the V6 hybrid.
However, following a difficult 2015 last year, the team emerged as the second fastest team behind Mercedes. Horner told Sky Sports “”It feels like we are building momentum. 2016 has been all about building that momentum and there is a feeling of real optimism within the team.”
“That if we can nudge a bit closer on the engine…chassis we are hoping to come up with a good car to give our guys the tools to fight Mercedes next year” he added. Horner is hopeful that the changes, which place a greater focus on aerodynamics, can make Red Bull the leading team again.
Horner says 2017 is a clean sheet of paper, saying Red Bull have been quite good with regulation changes, but says nothing can be taken for granted. Adding “We are hoping similar progress can be made with the engine and if that happens I think we have two very capable drivers of taking the fight to Mercedes.
Horner says Mercedes are the favourites this season but says if we can narrow the gap and put them under pressure that will be good for everyone. Thus season he expects to see F1 go back to the future in 2017, with the cars set to test the drivers’ strength once again.
“The car is more physical, it is quite a bit faster and it is getting back to being a man’s car like Brundle and Herbert drove in their day,” Horner said.
Mistake to focus on Alonso – Vandoorne
Stoffel Vandoorne believes it would be a mistake if he was to focus only on beating his McLaren team-mate, Fernando Alonso. The Belgian is entering his first full season for the team this season, after replacing Jenson Button.
Vandoorne made his debut last season scoring points in Bahrain and there is a high expectation on him this season, following a successful junior career. While there is interest in how he will get on with Alonso, he says his aim is not only beating him.
Speaking about Alonso, he told Motorsport.com “”I get on very well with Fernando. Of course, I have been able to work with him for the past two years and see how he operates in the team and how he pushes the team forward. I know very much what he is like.”
“He is a very competitive driver and everybody knows his capabilities and still thinks he is one of the best around. So I will definitely have a very good benchmark next to me.” Vandoorne says it wrong to only focus on him but the main target is getting McLaren back to the top.
Being Alonso’s team-mate and being at McLaren, will put his form in the spotlight but he says he’s ready for anything. He says F1 always has been a pressured environment but it’s perform or not. Vandoorne thinks too he has gained from being able to observe how Alonso and Button worked.
“For me it has been a good position to be in and see both sides of the garage, how they were preparing their weekend, building up to a Sunday race. It is something that I haven’t got much experience on myself yet.” He said
Speculating over order pointless – Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen says speculating about the running order amid this year’s pecking order is “pointless”, with the regulation changes. New technical regulations mean that cars will look very different, with wider wings and bigger tyres.
These changes are huge for the sport, with Raikkonen feeling judging who will come out on top is tricky as it is impossible for teams to know what their rivals are doing. He told Autosport “We will know once we get the new cars and hit the track as obviously there’s a lot of rule changes so we have to wait and see.
“It’s pointless to speculate with such a big change, so hopefully we are where we want to be and deserve to be.” He added. Last season having aimed to be the closest rival to Mercedes on track, Ferrari struggled to be fighting for wins and falling to third behind Red Bull in the constructors.
Raikkonen said “It was far from an ideal year from all of us but this is how racing goes. It doesn’t matter if it’s better or not the end result is obviously far from what we as Ferrari, as a team, wanted.”
“We did good races and not so good races and there were too many small issues but that’s what happens in racing sometimes” he added. Raikkonen says he thinks that podium in Abu Dhabi, bodes well for 2017.
Givoinazzi first test
Last year’s GP2 runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi has driven a Formula One car for Ferrari the first time. The Italian last season finished second in GP2 and was named as the third driver for Ferrari at the end of last season.
Giovinazzi drove Ferrari’s SF15-T from the 2015 season. He told Autosport “It was a great thrill because it was the first time in a Formula 1 car for me. For an Italian, leaving the garage in a Ferrari is a fantastic experience.”
“The tests were very interesting and there were so many procedures to follow, but the guys were very kind and extremely helpful and this made things much easier.” He added. Giovinazzi will continue working at Fiorano on Friday.
Sponsor vital for McLaren – Brown
McLaren executive director Zak Brown says it vital the team secures a title sponsor by 2018 and is confident he can make it happen. The team has been without a title sponsor since 2013 after Vodafone didn’t renew the contract.
When Brown joined the team last year he said one of his key aims was to find a title sponsor. Engine supplier Honda has partly filled the gap, but Brown remains committed to finding more backing.
Speaking to Autocar he said “The deal needs to be done in 2018. We can’t go much longer than that. This season is already finished because, realistically, it takes a year working with a big corporation to get the right deal.”
“We’re already working hard but, to the naked eye, there may be relatively little progress through 2017. But next year should be a game changer for us.” He added. When Vodafone ended the contract, then McLaren CEO Ron Dennis said the team would have one after the first few races of the season.
FIA committed to head protection
The FIA remain committed to introducing cockpit head protection next season, despite the division between drivers on the Halo. Last July, the Strategy Group voted to delay bringing in the device until 2018, while the FIA work on approving a concept.
The Halo is the only idea that has past the crash tests and been tested on the cars, but still needs to be approved by the teams by the majority to be introduced. However, the FIA has the power to veto any vote on safety grounds. The FIA have written to F1 drivers last month to gauge their views on the matter.
The letter, which was sent to the 22 drivers who tested the Halo in 2016, asked for an opinion about whether or not they felt it was ready for race introduction in 2018.
With the FIA eager to take on board the views of the drivers, the response was not overwhelmingly supportive. But this has received a lukewarm feedback, with suggestions that it the Halo is now set to be abandoned; the FIA insists that efforts are still ongoing to make it work.
The FIA spokesman said, “Any team or driver that says the Halo won’t happen in 2018 is wrong, although technically the Strategy Group agreed to ‘Additional Frontal Protection’ for 2018, and the Halo is the only suitable design at present.”
The FIA have the mandate to do this after being asked by the strategy group to investigate all ideas.