Alonso fastest in Le Mans test
Fernando Alonso and former F1 drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi were fastest in testing head of next weekends 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Spaniard is taking part in the race as he attempts to win the Triple Crown, and his team will also be looking to extend there lead in the world endurance championship after winning at Spa last month.
He was over half a second faster than Rebellion Racing which includes former F1 Drivers Andre Lotterer and Burno Senna. While the second Toyota, with former Sauber driver Kami Kobayashi, was third.
On his debut, Jenson Button was fifth for SMP Racing, however his running was cut short with a sensor issue. Alonso was satisfied with his first experience of the famous circuit.
Alonso told ESPN, “It was a lot of fun out there – the track is beautiful and fits perfectly with the LMP1s. It was enjoyable for me and we got the info we needed from the test.”
This is the busiest period for Alonso as he now heads to Montreal for this weekends Canadian Grand Prix, before returning to France for both the Le Mans race followed by a triple header starting with the French Grand Prix.
Ricciardo says one more win makes him the outsider
Daniel Ricciardo believes that one more win before the summer break will cement his place as the outsider for this years world title. After six races, Ricciardo along with four times champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel have won two races each.
While Red Bull’s Tag Heuer branded Renault power unit isn’t a match for the top two teams on one lap pace, the Australian has managed to beat both four times champions twice this season and is just twenty eight points behind Hamilton who currently lead the championship.
Asked by Motorsport.com, if he can fight for the title he said “I think it’s a natural question after a victory. Lewis still has a pretty good buffer on me, so we’re still on the outside of that.”
“It’s not impossible but not really at the forefront of my mind yet. Even if it was, I’m not going to change the way that I’m driving or trying to attack.”
“We’ve got to probably prove on at least one other circuit before the summer break that we can win again and then maybe we’ve a nice little outside chance.” That win before the summer will most likely come in Budapest at the end of july, where Red Bull tend to be strong.
Eyes of the team will naturally be on this weekends upgrade from Renault, that upgrade could decide not only whether Ricciardo can fight for the championship, but also the future of the supply deal.
Hamilton, who believes Ferrari, is the strongest and Vettel is the favourite despite being 14 points behind, says he is also keen to see how the team fares with the upgrades.
He says “They’ve dropped the ball a few times and we’ve been there to capitalise, so we’re further ahead than we would be if everyone had done the job.”
“But it is a three-way battle. I think Red Bull have got a potential upgrade coming, engine-wise, at the next race. It’ll be interesting to see their performance. They will continue to get stronger through the year.”
Renault forced to revaluate design
Renault is to revaluate how to incorporate its mirrors onto the halo, after its design it had been working on was outlawed by the sports governing body.
Ferrari was the first team to add wing mirrors to its halo in Barcelona, however the winglet attaching it to the halo was deemed to be illegal. Renault had designed and manufactured a prototype which featured a long winglet from the halo with the mirror attached.
However it now believed that the prototype would be deemed illegal based on the Ferrari ruling. Chassis technical director Nick Chester told Motorsport.com, “We had a rapid prototyped one running off the halo, but that wouldn’t work with the TD so we’re looking at a different way of doing a halo-mounted mirror.”
“The reason we were trying an RP one was to check if the drivers could see properly. [Now] we’ll have a different go at those.” The FIA’s ruling has also warned that any mountings on the Halo should be minimal and accidental. Teams will also need to prove that any device it claims to be a mounting is a “meaningful” part of the structure.
Chester said: “It’s always a bit tricky because whenever you’ve got something in a bodywork box you’re always going to find other uses for it. I think that the TD [technical directive] that came out recently specified where you could put the stem on the mirror, it has to be the side or underneath.
Pirelli outlines 2019 tyre development
Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli have outlined the development plans for 2019, against the backdrop of teams and fans calling this years tyre selections too complicated.
This year the Italian manufacture has introduced seven compounds of tyre, ranging from superhard to hypersoft, as well as wet tyres. Each tyre has its own colour which has created a rainbow effect and has caused confusion with fans who aren’t in tune with the compounds which vary each weekend.
Liberty Media has asked Pirelli to simplify the naming conventions and tyre colours for next season though they want to continue to highlight the broad range of tyres they have. Speaking at an event in London, racing manager for Pirelli Mario Isola said “We understand that for some spectators it’s difficult to identify the seven compounds we have in the range.”
“What is important is that we don’t lose the message that we are not going to different races with the same compound. So we are happy to call them hard, medium and soft, to define three colours and to use the same colours and the same names for all of the races.”
However he says it is important for fans and spectators to be able to see what compounds are being used. But how they do this remains open for discussion. Pirelli are also promising to increase the performance gap between the different compounds for next season.
The hypersofts saw new records set in Monaco, the softest compound was almost a second faster per lap than the next softest compound. He says that the issue, which needs to be resolved, is the tyres throwing up similar race strategies by all the teams.
Saying “We need to make simulations to have a two-stop strategy that is quicker. It’s difficult to understand how much quicker because if it’s too quick everyone will do the same two-stop strategy. If it’s not enough, everyone will go on one-stop strategy.”
Ecclestone model is not viable
Mercedes CEO and team principal Toto Wolff has warned that Liberty Media will find it increasingly harder to keep the current level of income that it currently receives from hosting fees.
Liberty’s deal with the city of Miami has opened a Pandoras box as the deal will not have the huge escalation in future years, but will share revenues with FOM who will take a cut of income. The move comes against the back drop of many European races trying to renegotiate there contracts.
However, lower fees being collected will see the amount of profits the sport makes fall and the will impact on how much prize money and bonuses the teams receive.
Wolff acknowledged that it won’t be easy to repeat the sort of deals that Bernie Ecclestone was traditionally able to conclude.
He told Motorsport.com, “Sanction fees were one of the three key revenue generators in the old Bernie F1 business model.”
“He was exceptional at these deals. I’m not sure it’s sustainable. And it is clear when there is a change of regime that people will and promoters will try to negotiate and restructure the business model.”
Wolff says Ecclestone left the promoters in some unsustainable positions and that the current management is going to sign the right deals with new races.