Marko questions convergence
Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, has questioned the FIA’s claims that the convergence of the power units is roughly the same. Under an agreement between the manufacturers, there is an agreement to encourage performance convergence this year.
The token system which had been designed to keep the cost down and limiting the amount of performance upgrades a team could bring to its engine has been scrapped. The new agreement means that the FIA will be assessing the convergence levels now but this won’t be made public.
The announcement raised eyebrows within the Renault-powered teams, as Red Bull qualified 1.7 seconds off the pace set by Mercedes and over a minute behind Valtteri Bottas. Marko says this proof the FIA’s index is irrelevant in terms of real performance.
Marko told Motorsport-Magazin.com “The bulk of [Red Bull’s gap to the front in Russia] is the engine, most certainly. This makes the FIA measurement look absurd.” He believes that the gap was .5 of a second is caused by the chassis.
Put to him that the .3 was based on Barcelona, a circuit that rewards chassis performance as opposed to Sochi that rewards engine performance.
he said “That does not matter because this is also a race track. So there is at least five percent, which we are still missing on Mercedes and Ferrari.”
Marko believes the barometer for performance convergence should be qualifying times and not a formula agreed between the manufacturers and FIA.
“Ripped off” and “Conned” – Malaysia promoter
The promoter of the Malaysian Grand Prix says that he felt “ripped off” and “conned”, when former F1 Boss Bernie Ecclestone admitted he had charged too much for venues.
This year is scheduled to be last race in Malaysia ending its eighteen-year stint in formula one. Sepang was the first purpose built circuit in South East Asia.
However, many of these races proved short-lived, with South Korea and India being dropped after three years. Last month, Chairman Emeritus Ecclestone admitted that such venues “can’t make it work” as his organisation “charged them too much for what we provide”.
Sepang circuit chief executive Dato’ Razlan Razali expressed his disappointment at Ecclestone’s comments. he told Autosport “I just felt ripped off in some ways, even though we were not forced to sign the agreement.”
“But to come up with a statement like that – how does it make us feel? All this time you have been overcharging us and we are not getting what we want, such as good racing and access to drivers and teams.”
“Of course, nobody put a gun to our head but for you to come up with comments like that makes us feel worse. It makes us feel like we’ve been conned.
Ecclestone hit back saying “”Nobody made him look stupid, and it’s difficult to make people look stupid. If they are, they are. They have done a very good job with the motorcycles.”
Ecclestone says that if Ferrari keeps up their good job the racing should be good and things should be better for promoters.
When asked if he had spoken to Liberty following Ecclestone’s comments, Razali said: “We touched based on it but there is no point talking about the past. We want to make sure the Malaysian GP in its final year is a great show.”
The reason why the race is being terminated is because of a fall in spectator and television viewing numbers led to the government.
Alonso complete Indy test
Fernando has completed his first test in IndyCar ahead of the Indianapolis 500.
The McLaren driver has passed the Rookie Orientation Programme at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to ensure he will be able to race on May 28. All new drivers taking part in the race are required to complete 10 laps at 205-210mph, 15 laps at 210-215mph and 15 laps over 215mph.
Team owner of Andretti Autosport told Sky Sports “That was great. He did perfect, everything he was supposed to do and now we can go play a little bit.” Alonso is missing Monaco to try and complete another part of the triple crown.
The triple crown is winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, so far this has only been done by Graham Hill.
The team also unveiled their McLaren branded car which Alonso will race with.
McLaren team-mate Jenson Button sent Alonso a video message saying “Fernando, it’s your replacement, here, “Remember me? I used to be your team-mate.”
“I have just seen a picture of your car which looks awesome. Good luck and stay safe. I will keep your seat warm in Monaco and get lots of juicy points for when you return, and make you jealous you did not race.”
Right call to switch to Honda – Wehrlein
Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein say that Sauber has made the right call in switching from Ferrari to Honda power next season. The Swiss team has been with Ferrari since 2010.
Honda has struggled since returning to the sport in 2015 and there start to this season has put the pressure on because of McLaren’s poor start to the season. But both the team’s drivers have back the decision to switch to Honda.
Ericsson told Motorsport.com “I think for the team it’s a good step. Obviously, looking at it now, it doesn’t look so good, because Honda is having very big problems.”
“But I think for longer-term it’s the right decision for the team. I think there is potential there.” His team-mate Wehrlein, added “I think it’s great for the team. I cannot say too much about it as I’m contracted to Sauber only for the 2017 season.”
Wehrlein says it is a great decision for the team and hopes it gives Sauber the chance of being competitive next season. This year Sauber are running a 2016 engine, with the layout being sensitive to power.
This meant that Sauber and McLarens Stoffel Vandoorne were the last of the runners to finish in Sochi. The circuit is power-sensitive meaning circuit was a weakness for McLaren.
Asked if Sauber would’ve been better off running Honda power units in 2017, Ericsson said: “I mean, now when they have decided to go for Honda for next year… obviously we’re running a year-old Ferrari engine.”
“which is not going to [get much development] this season – so maybe it would’ve been better to be with a Honda engine now and trying to get that to work.”
Palmer needs to use Hulkenberg as encouragement
Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul says that Jolyon Palmer should take encouragement from the strong start that his team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has made this season.
Palmer’s difficult season continued in Sochi, a crash saw him fall out in Q1, before colliding with Haas’s Romain Grosjean saw him retire on the opening lap of the race.
Hulkenberg’s season has seen him qualify in the top ten regularly and score points in the last two races. Palmer’s best result of the season has been thirteenth.
Abiteboul says the team remains fully committed to the Englishman, telling Motorsport.com “He needs to see the positives in the fact that Nico is doing so well. He needs to feel that he’s in a team that has the capacity to deliver this type of performance.”
“And this performance is not just for Nico, we are not a one-man band, and he has to be part of it. Fifty percent of the effort we are putting in is for each driver, so fifty percent is for Jo.” He says the team needs Palmer to score points.
Palmer’s only mistake was his crash in Q1 and Abiteboul believes that he could have been easily into Q2 from the data. He thinks that it’s important to keep his side of the garage motivated.
Saying “We had a number of issues to do on the car, changing chassis, changing engine, the shunt in qualifying. I feel sorry for Jo and the group of people behind him who did a remarkable job over the weekend.”
“When you change chassis and change engine you have all the reasons in the world to have problems, but we did not have a single operational problem.”