Honda to part with engine consultant
Motorsport.com says it has learnt that Honda is parting with engine consultant Gilles Simon, this has been seen as just the latest sign of pressure within the manufacturer.
Simon is known mostly for his work at Ferrari during the dominant Michael Schumacher era, had joined Honda in 2013 after previous spells at the FIA and the stillborn PURE project. Honda is reluctant to employ outside consultants, meaning that Simon was seen as a key part in ensuring the team could make quick gains.
This will just add to the trouble in the manufacturer’s partner McLaren, following reports of disagreements between the two about what Honda promised this season and McLaren promised Honda. Simon is currently on a six-month gardening leave.
Honda would not confirm the reasons for Simon’s departure but stated that his contract was being terminated. However, a spokesperson said, “It is true that we are ending the contract with him sometime this year, under each other’s agreement.”
“However, as it is a contract issue between him and Honda, we do not disclose further details. Honda appreciates very much his great support and contribution to our fourth era Formula One project.”
No information about failures – Honda
After that statement about Honda parting with engine consultant Gilles Simon, the spokesperson went on to speak about the problems that the Japanese manufacturer’s difficulties last week.
There is still no new information about what caused the issues last Tuesday and Honda will make an effort to try to understand the situation better.
The spokesperson went to say “It is still under investigation but it [work] is also proceeding day by day. We need some more runs in the test, with some changes in the power unit, to clarify the root cause.”
The engine specification tested this week will feature some updates based on early analysis of last week’s failure, but Honda has declined to elaborate on what the specific changes are.
Massive upgrades for Mercedes
Mercedes are to bring a massively upgraded car for this week’s second pre-season test in Barcelona. The German manufacturer last week showed that despite the regulation changes that they have an advantage.
Both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton completed race simulations on the second and third days respectively, and Mercedes’ new recruit set the week’s fastest lap, a 1m19.705s. During the four days, Mercedes completed nearly eight Grand Prix’s, in terms of distance.
All the teams are expected to bring new parts for this test and focus on the performance of their cars. There are suggestions that Mercedes are going to bring one of the biggest packages and more engine mapping, which could see them gain two seconds a lap.
Bottas told Autosport “We are definitely hoping we can make good steps forward. From the running [in the first week], it’s tricky to make a detailed analysis of where we are compared to the other teams.
“We don’t know what other teams are bringing, or for Melbourne. We are aiming to improve day-by-day, and now we need to work on all the things we tried.” He added. Bottas has played down the significance of being fastest on day three, saying the most important thing was understanding the car.
Looking ahead to this week he said the team will be looking to understand where they are on lap times.
Key praises Renault
Toro Rosso’s technical director James Key has praised engine supplier Renault for a big step in performance. While the first week of testing was difficult for the Italian team and being over three seconds off the pace set by Mercedes, the team is still targeting a strong position in the midfield this season.
This season the team switched to a one-year-old Ferrari power unit, which saw the team fall away mid to the latter part of the season. Toro Rosso is hoping that a return to Renault power, will help the team move up the grid and Key has said he has been impressed by the figures he has seen from the engine so far.
He told ESPN “I think the good thing with Renault is on the performance side, since we’ve been with them, they’ve turned a huge corner. Our impressions are positive exactly where it stands in the order is impossible to say at this stage, but there’s definitely a vast improvement from what we saw in the past.”
Key says that from a performance view the team are happy with the what they are seeing. However, has warned that its very difficult to tell during winter testing were people are as you’re not always clear what teams are doing.
He says that Haas look reasonable though they could be close with Renault, who he thinks will be more competitive than they were last year. Williams he thinks is difficult to tell at the moment and Force India as well but is sure that both will be in good shape.
Speaking of the top teams, he says it’s difficult to tell at the moment as the gap between Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari isn’t clear. But this should be in the coming days.
Significant progress for Renault
Renault’s Jolyon Palmer says the team has made significant improvements in the ride quality of the 2017 car. Last season, the French team was hampered by the late takeover of Lotus and having to change the car to take another engine.
This year’s car is the first car they have designed since the takeover. When asked about the ride quality he said they have made a good gain. He told Autosport “The ride quality is where we were weak last year. We’ve made a big step this year. We’ve got much better tools to deal with that now.”
“It’s something we learnt from last year, and we learnt the hard way. But clearly [at Barcelona], we’ve made good progress, and even just the balance of the car is very consistent, it’s very driveable.” Palmer says that every time he gets in the car they know what to expect.
Asked to reply to Sebastian Vettel’s comment that the new cars ‘fixes everything’, he said “If he had problems with his old car, he doesn’t know what the Renault was like last year.”
“For us, it’s an even bigger step. I’m driving with such a big smile on my face at the moment because the car feels so nice to drive.
Wehrlein fit to return
Pascal Wehrlein will return to the cockpit and get his first proper chance to drive a 2017 car tomorrow. The German was ruled out of the last test, following a crash with Felipe Massa at the Race of Champions in Miami.
Wehrlein yesterday Tweeted a picture from a gym, saying he was “working hard to come back soon.” According to Motorsport.com sources, the German will finally be able to return to the cockpit this week.
Ferrari reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi remains on standby this week should Wehrlein have any issues once he’s been in the car and experienced the g-forces associated with this year’s high downforce regulations.
Best relationship with a teammate – Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says that his relationship with new team-mate Valtteri Bottas is the best he has had with any other team-mate in Formula One. The Finn joined the team following the retirement of Nico Rosberg in December and topped the time sheets on one of the days last week.
Hamilton told F1.com “What I so far like about working with Valtteri is that it is all to do with the track – what we do on the circuit – and not outside. There are no games – there is complete transparency. I like that.”
“I feel we already have a better working relationship than I ever had with any teammate I had before. He wants to do the best thing that he can in his first year with the team.”
“With me being here for quite a while now, I want to deliver and make sure that I give as much information so that he will learn.” He says Bottas has settled in quite comfortably in a short space of time and has “a great frame of mind, a lot of positive energy in him just in general.”
Hamilton says his impressions of him was a quiet man, but he has learnt very quickly he is “witty and comes out with some very funny things – which you would not really expect from a Finn!”
Brabham commemorated with a coin
The Royal Australian Mint has honoured the three-time world champion Sir Jack Brabham with a commemorative 50-cent coin
. Sir Jack won three world titles, including one in his own car in 1966 and died in 2014 aged eighty-eight.
Royal Australian Mint chief executive Ross MacDiarmid said Brabham’s career and legacy deserved recognition. “Sir Jack Brabham was not only a superb racing car driver but he was also an innovative engineer and pioneer, paving the way forward for motorsports.”
“As we enter the 2017 Formula One season, this coin celebrates one of the world’s motor racing greats and his remarkable achievements, on and off the track.”
His son, the former F1 driver and Le Mans winner David, added the coin was an important tribute to Sir Jack as his achievements “are likely to never be repeated with today’s technology replacing hands-on experience.”
“This coin encourages us all to share the Brabham legacy and recognise what is possible if you put your heart, soul and mind into it just like Jack, a pioneer of his time.”
There will be full coverage from Formula One Vault throughout the week. You can read our preview here; F1 Today will be back next Monday, as Notebook replaces this on track days.