Renault upgrades fail to make an impact
Renault drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg say that the recent upgrades have not had the impact they were expected to have. The “substantial” upgrade package was introduced at the French Grand Prix, which included a new front end and floor.
Both drivers were out-qualified by Renault’s customer team McLaren in France but, after claiming that the race pace was not dissimilar, struggled last weekend in Austria where neither driver qualified or finished inside the top ten.
They both believe that there was something “fundamental” amiss at the Red Bull Ring that caused the team to have a particularly difficult weekend. Both admitting that the that the upgrades have not had the desired effect after slipping back into the midfield fight instead of breaking clear.
When asked by Motorsport.com if the Austria form was linked to the upgrade package, Riccardo said “I feel like there’s no concern that it’s anything we bought there [to France] that is hurting us. I will say that we did expect a bit more from those upgrades in terms of lap time translation and that hasn’t really shown.”
“Maybe there’s some correlation stuff with wind tunnel and aero which isn’t quite lining up so we’ll see, I’ll ask a few questions and see what they come back with. It’s tough because it was frustrating, and it is the first time we haven’t been in Q3 for a while.”
Ricciardo says that the team’s challenge was to understand why the car wasn’t working, rather than throwing things out the pram. He wants the team to be constructive.
Hulkenberg says that he thinks that the layout of the Red Bull Ring was a big factor, following Renault’s relative struggles at the Austrian circuit the past two season. He felt Renault’s car had not regressed with new parts, just not progressed as hoped.
Saying “I think the upgrades were a step forward, [but] probably not the step we were looking for. But there’s certainly nothing that indicates, or I feel, that the upgrades cause the problem now.”
However, neither driver blamed Renault’s developments for the sudden dip in form, their shared uncertainty over the cause has prompted concern.
Asked if Renault can get on top of its performance swings, Hulkenberg said: “That’s one of the things we need to work on as a team as well.
Ferrari’s tyre shame
Ferrari’s team principal Mattia Binotto feels “ashamed” that the sport did not agree on a change to the specification of this year’s tyres that could have helped curb Mercedes’ dominance this season.
The German manufacturer has been the only team to get the tyres to work, while Ferrari and Red Bull have struggled to keep them in the right temperature range. That contributed to Mercedes winning the first eight races of the 2019 season before Max Verstappen took the first non-Mercedes victory since his win in Mexico last year.
The dominant win in France a fortnight ago prompted concerns that Mercedes has become too dominant, leading to a proposal to change the tyre specification in an attempt to slow Mercedes down.
The idea was to go back to 2018-style tyres that had a thicker tread and were easier to keep up to temperature. The thicker tread means the tyres are more likely to overheat, one of the complaints by drivers last year. The vote to revert back to the 2018-spec failed to get the super majority for the change to take place.
Binotto regrets that decision, he told ESPN, “I think it has been a good battle in Austria, and normally you have good battles when you do not have one team which is overperforming. This weekend has been great in that respect.”
“But I think we missed a great opportunity this weekend on the tyres decision. I think F1 as a whole should have done something and I think sometimes we are discussing and not acting.”
“I feel really ashamed that we didn’t change the specification of the tyres for the rest of the season because that would have been a great opportunity to somehow close the field.”
One of the reasons why the change was rejected, is that last year most of the teams experienced overheating problems.
Pirelli counted twenty-three blisters on tyres across all teams at this year’s French Grand Prix despite using the reduced tread and believes the problem would have been far worse had it used 2018-style tyres.
McLaren encourage to take more risks
McLaren team principal Andrea Seidl says he will be encouraging his team to take more risks as it continues to recover. Following a difficult three years with Honda, the British team finished sixth in the 2018 standings and has continued to make impressive progress this season.
McLaren currently is fourth in the constructors leading engine supplier Renault by twenty points. New boss Seidl says he is not prepared to take more risks in the quest to return to the top of Formula One. Seidl told Crash.net, “I’m a guy who encourages people to take risks, to protect them when something goes wrong. You have to accept that mistakes are happening.”
“For sure, you should try to prevent them in the first place, or you should make sure they don’t happen a second time. But with the position we are in, we need to take risks.” He says that the team needs a certain amount of confidence and build up to where it wants to be.
He has been impressed by the good results, positive atmosphere and how good the teams’ momentum has been, saying its important to keep going in that direction.
Seidl says he wants to get McLaren back into a position where it can start to develop “adventurous” and “aggressive” concept designs, like current world champions Mercedes is able to do.
The most important thing for him is continuous development and improvement. It’s a question of making sure McLaren has a solid foundation for aggressive development which needs to build up again. While it should be brave enough to take risks.
He added “ It’s important to also, let’s say, to be in categories like pits stops, race strategy showing already now that we can take the fight with the big ones, because it’s clear that that’s had a gap on the performance side and that’s something that will take time.”
Gasly needs a reset
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says that Pierre Gasly needs to mentally hit “control-alt-delete” in an attempt to recover his season. The Frenchman has had a difficult first half of the season, his misery continued in the Austrian Grand Prix when he was lapped for the third race in a row, while team-mate Max Verstappen won.
Red Bull remains committed to Gasly for now, despite speculation that he could be replaced for 2020 by Daniil Kvyat if he does not improve his form.
Horner called on Gasly to draw a line under his performances so far this year and start fresh from the next race at Silverstone in order to turn things around.
Asked by Autosport how worried he was about Gasly’s ongoing struggles, Horner said: “I think Pierre is having a tough time at the moment and we are doing our very best to support him. I think he just needs a reset. We know what he is capable of.”
“I think that we have just somehow got to go ‘Control-Alt-Delete’ in his head and start again. He is a quick driver and I think the problem he has got is that Max is delivering every week and that puts more pressure obviously on him to perform.”
“But we are sticking behind him, we still believe in him and we will give him all the support we can to try to nurture the talent that we know he has.” Horner stressed there was “nothing wrong” with Gasly’s car, to cause his slow pace.
Playing down talk about Red Bull wanting to replace him soon.
Saying “There is no intention to change Pierre. He is our driver, we are going to work with him and try to get the best out of him. He is having a tough time at the moment, but we will do our best to support him through it.”
That’s all from F1 Today, we will return on Monday 22nd July. However, F1 Vault will bring you full coverage of next weekend’s British Grand Prix