McLaren rule out own engine
McLaren has ruled out any prospect of building their own engine as tensions between the team and engine partner Honda continue. McLaren started the season with the hopes of making improvements following two difficult seasons.
But, pre-season testing was hampered by poor reliability and a lack of power. Though McLaren already builds their own engine for its road car and GT racing programmes, executive director Zak Brown dismissed any suggestion that it could step in with its own replacement for Honda.
He told Autosport “McLaren Automotive is a different business unit with some common shareholders who we work very closely with.”
“Their engine is a McLaren engine but the F1 team has a different set of economic priorities and ways to go racing so that is not a conversation that we’ve had.”
Adding “We are not an engine builder, we are a racing team and a car constructor.” The team has already looked at a return to Mercedes should they feel it cannot continue, but Brown insisted there priority is making the Honda deal work.
He said, “We are working with them on what is the best way to be competitive as quickly as possible, and then ultimately to get back to the ultimate goal of winning the world championship together, so there has not been a real strain in the relationship.”
McLaren will be braced for this weekend to expose the weakness of the power unit because of the long back straight.
Palmer knows critics expectations
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer says he knows his critics will be expecting him to be “blown away” by new Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg this year.
Palmer retired from the opening race of the season after a difficult weekend, this included a gearbox issue in FP1 followed by a crash in FP2 left him struggling throughout the Melbourne weekend. Hulkenberg, meanwhile, fought for a point on his Renault debut but had to settle for 11th.
Asked by Motorsport.com if there was a feeling from some that he would be “blown away” by Hulkenberg this season, Palmer replied: “It’s fair to say that’s the expectation from a lot of people.”
“It was the expectation this time last year as well and it wasn’t the case. I always relish the challenge. It’s always good as a driver to go up against a really top team-mate.
“Nico’s track record is really good and a lot of people have been saying he could have a top seat, so to have him alongside me is a chance to prove myself really, and also learn from him as well”
Palmer’s debut season was not great with him finishing eighteen in the drivers’ championship, however, he ended the season in a stronger form than his then-teammate Kevin Magnussen.
Red Bull half second down
Red Bull boss Christian Horner says following his assessment of Ferrari and Mercedes he believes that the team has around a half a second pace deficit.
In testing and practice the new pecking order didn’t become clear and with the new F1 technical regulations didn’t become clear until the 2017 season opener where Horner concedes Red Bull were the third quickest car in the race.
Despite the deficit Horner is still optimistic after Max Verstappen push Kimi Raikkonen for fourth place for the entire race in Melbourne. He told Crash.net “I don’t think we’re that far behind. With Mercedes, I think we have about half a second to find. Ferrari have been very impressive and probably had the quickest car in Australia.”
“We probably had the third quickest car here and we’ve got to find a good half-second to get into the fight ahead.” He says that Max Verstappen did push Kimi Raikkonen hard all race but they didn’t have the pace of Vettel or Hamilton.
“I think it is still early days and the regulations are still very immature. We’ve chosen a different concept and I believe there is really good potential for development with our concept,” he added.
Horner has warned that the team was unable to show their true potential in Melbourne but feels they were half a second down.
Rethinking setups – Horner
Formula One teams think they need to rethink the way they approach there to set up because the new generation of cars are proving difficult sensitive to rather small tweaks which cause a major impact on cars handing.
During the opening race of the season Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes all struggled at various points in Melbourne, With Lewis Hamilton struggled more than Ferrari with tyre degradation in Australia revolved around this setup characteristic.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Motorsport.com “I believe that these tyres have a narrow window, and you need to keep them in that window in order for them to perform well.”
“If you’re below the window or above the window, you lose performance. So that is different to the last years. It needs a new calibration for all of us and understanding of the tyres.” Horner said that the team needed to widen the operating window.
Adding the window is “quite a narrow window at the moment, but at least the car is reacting to change, so we need to understand that and build on that.”
Perez has “Good feelings”
Sergio Perez says Force India’s performance in Melbourne has given him “good feeling” about the team’s chances for the upcoming back-to-back races in China and Bahrain.
Force India didn’t deliver a standout performance during winter testing and the team only managed seventh and tenth at the Australian Grand Prix.
Perez knows there is still work to make progress but thinks the opening race of the season provides a good foundation for Force India in the remaining fly-away races. He told ESPN “Our seventh place finish in Melbourne was very satisfying.”
“We beat some cars that had better pace because we made the right decisions with the strategy. Our performance in Melbourne showed that we have done a good job over the winter, but there are still areas where we need to improve.”
He says the upgrades coming in the next few races should improve the overall balance of the car. Perez also says that the strong start to the season is a good omen for 2017.