Honda worried about not convincing McLaren to stay
Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa says that he fears that the Japanese manufacturer cannot do enough to convince McLaren to continue the partnership next season.
McLaren and Honda’s remains at breaking point because of another season which has been plagued by poor performance and reliability, with the team said to be making a decision about the future of the partnership this week.
If McLaren decides that it cannot continue its relationship with Honda and should Toro Rosso decide to remain with Renault that would force Honda out of Formula One. But Honda is continuing to push with their aggressive development plan that yielded upgrades at Spa and Monza.
Hasegawa told Autosport “I’m still trying to make good performance to convince them but I’m not sure it will be enough. Honda never give up on keeping this collaboration.”
While the situation could have become a distraction for Honda’s staff, Hasegawa believes it is having the opposite effect. Saying “It accelerating our development. It becomes motivational inside the factory.”
Honda’s ‘spec 3’ which was introduced in Austria, has accelerated and the rate of development is very good.
Looking ahead to Singapore, Hasegawa said “We have some confidence about competitiveness [at Singapore]. We have already decided the current engine will go to Singapore.”
“We may update some settings or engine settings but we cannot do a big update in Singapore.”
‘Embarrassed’ by home performance
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne says it was “embarrassing” to watch the dominance of Mercedes over the Scuderia at the teams home Italian Grand Prix, believing “something went wrong”.
President Marchionne was talking up the teams’ championship challenge in the week building up to the race. However, the race must have caused embarrassment for the team after finishing fourth seconds behind Mercedes and saw Sebastian Vettel lose the lead in the drivers’ championship, for the first time this season.
Marchionne told Sky Sports Italy “It was almost embarrassing to see the difference between Mercedes and Ferrari. Mercedes were superior to Ferrari, we could not do anything.” Marchoinne admitted the team had “obviously did something wrong” in the few days between Spa and Monza.
Monza was always expected to favour the silver arrows, but Ferrari had hoped that they could have mounted a much closer challenge. Mercedes throughout the race increased their advantage on nearly every lap, with Marchionne saying the next few races being key to the outcome of the championship.
He said “”It was impossible,” he said. “This is not Ferrari, we need to double our commitment.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel said he was not happy finishing third in Italy, but said it was nice to have a podium for the home fans. “It’s okay that the next circuits are more favourable, but it does not mean anything. We have to remove the smile from the face of these guys here, I’m flat-out.”
However, the title in the last few weeks has definitely swung towards Mercedes with them now sixty two points ahead with seven races remaining.
Calls for engine penalties review
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has called for an urgent review of engine penalty rules after the grid for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix was transformed by a number of grid penalties.
A total of one hundred and fifty grid penalties were awarded across the whole grid, which meant only four drivers started where they qualified. Horner told Sky Sports “”It needs a serious look at to see whether there is a better way to penalise a manufacturer or an entrant as opposed to messing around with the grid”
“It is only going to get worse towards the end [of the season] and it would be a shame to see this championship decided on grid penalties.” Horner also launched an attack on the hybrid V6 power units introduced in 2014, claiming they have “done nothing positive since it was introduced.”
This season drivers have been limited to just four power units for the entire season with the power unit defined as being comprised of six elements and any of those elements are used more than four times, a penalty is then imposed.
Horner says he worries that if the calendar reduces to fewer than twenty-one the engine pool will be reduced to three for the season. Adding “I tried to get it changed at a meeting earlier in the year but there was no support for it.”
“I would hope that would perhaps be different with teams staring down the barrel of further penalties between now and the end of the year.” Horner says the cost saving which had been targeted by the changes has not been met because five engines go to every race.
For the drivers, teams, fans and the media working out the grid was impossible and once you got there another penalty had been awarded. The whole saga saw some drivers start either they qualified or even higher than the penalty they had been awarded.
The FIA has promised a review while warning that workable alternative solutions were not necessarily easy to find.
Porsche seriously considering return
Porsche’s deputy chairman Lutz Meschke says the German manufacturer is seriously considering a return to the sport as an engine manufacturer under the proposed 2021 regulations.
Meschkes who is the Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board and Member of the Board for Finances and IT, met with Ross Brawn and the sport’s other bosses at the Italian Grand Prix. The manufacturer has not had a direct involvement in the sport since 1991 but has paid for the Supercup to be part of the support programme.
The reason Porsche are considering an entry as a manufacturer is that it doesn’t get sufficient return for what is in effect a F1-size budget, but without the income and sponsorship that the likes of Mercedes enjoy.
The company has already made a commitment to Formula E with a works-backed team from the 2019/20 season. While being part of the engine discussions about the 2021 regulations, which they have been encourage by the move to cheaper and simpler technology than is currently used.
“F1 could be one of the right places,” Meschke told Motorsport.com. “As you know Formula E is very important for us now, and F1 is always a good topic to think about. And I think we are in quite good discussions regarding the new engine.”
Asked if the current plans for a twin-turbo V6 with less technology could attract Porsche to F1 he said: “Absolutely. We have to cut costs in F1, and it’s a good way to reach this target.”
Meschke also confirmed that “discussions are around being a supplier,” and thus there are no plans to form a works team. In the past, there have been links to Red Bull
Hamilton ‘volunteered’ for tyre test
Lewis Hamilton will take part in his first in season test with Pirelli and Mercedes this week, with him saying that he volunteered to do it.
Last season Hamilton showed little interest in the 2017 mule car programme at the end of last year, in marked contrast to current title rival Sebastian Vettel. Many believe that testing can benefit drivers hugely, despite the restrictions by the FIA.
The test which will take place at Paul Ricciard will also give Hamilton a taste of the venue which will hold the French Grand Prix, next season. Hamilton will drive on the Thursday with Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas driving on Friday.
Mercedes has already run one day with Bottas, a test that was combined with the general on in Budapest after the Hungarian GP.
The only remaining in-season tyre test days are on the Tuesdays and Wednesdays after the Mexican Grand Prix with Sauber and Force India, and after the Brazilian Grand Prix with McLaren
Force India confident of retaining both drivers
Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley says that he is confident that the team can retain both Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon next season.
The Mexican is out of contract at the end of this season and is currently working with his sponsors to seek other opportunities, but Fernley believes that a deal will eventually be done for him to stay with the team.
Sources at Mercedes, suggest that the team would be happy to allow Ocon to move to Renault freeing the Force India seat for Pascal Wehrlein, whose future with Sauber is in doubt after they signed a new deal with Ferrari.
Frenchman Ocon was contracted to the Enstone team when it was still Lotus, and his nationality makes him an obvious target for Renault.
However, Fernley is adamant that Ocon has a firm ongoing deal with Force India. Fernley told Motorsport.com “”We’ll do everything in our power to maintain the driver line-up we have today. We’re in a very fortunate position in that like the top three teams.”
“We’ve got two super talented drivers, and we’re going to need that in order to battle for fourth place in 2018, or hopefully even go higher. So the last thing we want to do is to lose talent.” He acknowledged there was interest in Ocon saying he is a very talented driver.
Fernely says that the interest in Ocon is because he is a very talented driver and that the team had a interest in him for a very long time. Adding “We’ve now got the benefit of that, and we want to make sure that we optimise that.”