Haas launches the VF-19
Haas has become the first team to launch their 2019 car online. The American team showed off the gold and black VF-19 today after teasing a new look on social media earlier in the week.
Since it entered the sport in 2016, the team has carried some form of red, grey and black livery, which are the colours of Gene Haas’ company, Haas Automation. The change in colours follows a sponsorship deal with the British energy drinks company, Rich Energy.
The new look was unveiled at an event in London, although Haas’ actual 2019 car was not revealed. The VF-19 is instead likely to be seen for the first time at winter testing later this month.
Haas have retained both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen for 2019, the third season that they will be teammates. Last year the team were locked in battle with Renault for fourth in the constructors, although they lost out it showed the team had made a huge step forwards over the last three years.
Haas’ revealed their new livery on last year’s car, though it was fitted with a new-for-2019 front wing. These include simplified front wing, with a larger span
The new front wing is 200mm wider but has also been simplified in order to reduce turbulence. That should mean the cars can race closer together, simplified front brake duct with no winglets and wider and deeper rear win all aimed at increasing the chances of overtaking.
The FIA, the sport’s governing body, is also hoping for a low ‘outwash’ potential – meaning less air is directed outside the wheels. If that’s the case, the car behind will be able to get more grip to go through corners faster.
Hamilton should fear Verstappen
Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner believes that Max Verstappen is the driver who is “feared the most” by multiple times champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
The Dutchman won two races and finished fourth in the driver’s championship in 2018, and this year has been tipped to mount a serious title challenge. However, that depends on whether Honda is able to deliver a power unit which is capable of challenging for titles.
However, Horner believes that Verstappen would not be daunted by fighting much more experienced, successful drivers. He told Motorsport.com, “I don’t think he fears anything. We’ve seen both of those guys make mistakes throughout their careers. Sebastian had a bit of a messy year last year.”
“If you look at his [Verstappen’s] performance from the second half of the year, he’s the second-highest points scorer to Lewis. I don’t think he lacks anything that they have if we can provide him with the tools to do the job. He’s probably the driver that they fear the most”
Verstappen had a very difficult start to 2018 but managed to finish the season with a number of podiums. Two of his accidents were collisions with both Hamilton and Vettel.
Asked about the dynamic between the two, Horner said “Lewis is at a different stage of his career, he’s got all that experience behind him. At some point in the near future, it’s only natural that the brightness of his star will start to fade.”
“He will need to rely on experience and whether you can have that natural speed for that sustained period of time.”
This season, the Englishman is expecting Verstappen to lead the team as he is joined by less experienced Pierre Gasly to replace him.
Asked if it was important to get Verstappen to improve without losing his edge, Horner said: “Absolutely, that’s what defines him and makes him the exciting driver that he is.
Cost cap could hand an advantage to big teams – Horner
Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner believes that the proposals for a cost cap could risk handing the bigger teams a clear advantage, which is one of the reasons he is not in favour of a cap to reduce spending.
The teams and the sports owners Liberty Media are currently discussing the future direction of the sport, which includes a budget cap. Most of the larger teams are against a cap. the complicated nature of policing it, plus the different ways that the companies are structured, has exposed problems in ensuring a level playing field.
Red Bull team is a standalone operation from the energy drinks company, the way Mercedes and Ferrari have organisations closely tied to their road car businesses has left the team worrying there could be scope for them to better exploit any grey areas.
Asked by Motorsport.com, about the state of negotiations ahead of F1’s 2021 revamp, he said “What is incredibly important for Red Bull is that we are afforded the same opportunities as our competitors like Ferrari and Mercedes.”
“We believe we have earned that in the time that we have been in F1, and it is vitally important that any financial restrictions that are bought into the sport are on a fair and equitable basis, and are not in any way discriminatory against any one team.”
Horner believes that the financial regulations are fairly hard to regulate, but is waiting with interest to see how they propose to do that.
It is believed that one way of doing that could be different caps to suit different team structures: so manufacturers could be treated differently to independent teams or standalone operations. But Horner is sceptical about that being fair and says that teams could be given a back door route to hide expenditure.
Team changes confirmed
The FIA has published a revised version of the 2019 entry list, confirming that the Sauber name will not appear on the grid for the first time since 1992. The team will now officially be named Alfa Romeo Racing.
The Italian manufacturer last appeared on the grid at the 1985 Australian Grand Prix, the teams return marks the start of its third spell in Formula One as a constructor. From the one hundred and ten races it has taken part in it has had ten wins and two driver championships.
Alfa’s 2019 entry was originally submitted as Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team, under the Sauber Motorsport AG company and with Sauber as the designated chassis name. Sauber Motorsport AG, which remains independent, is still the company behind the Alfa Romeo Racing entry.
Name changes often can cause drama, as was proved last year when Force India renamed itself Racing Point. The Racing Point saga that dogged the second half of last season was complicated by the change of company from Force India and a subsequent new entry.
Racing Point completed the 2018 season under that name and then kept it when the entry list was published late last year.
However, the official entrant remains Sauber Motorsport AG, which remains the teams’ parent company and independent of Alfa Romeo.
Meanwhile, Racing Point as the company, team and chassis name – a day after changing its social media identity from Force India to Racing Point.
Mercedes beefs up cybersecurity
Mercedes have announced a cybersecurity deal with CrowdStrike to help protect itself from cyber-attacks. The team will use the technology platform both CrowdStrike’s technology platform and services at the race track as well as the team’s F1 technology unit in Brackley, UK
Mercedes says that it produces a 500gb of data from each car every race weekend, and a further 5-10TB each week at its factory. The teams have a complex network of geographically dispersed workforce and facilities, opening up exposure to cyber attacks.
CrowdStrike says it solves these challenges by enabling critical threat protection through immediate seamless deployments across thousands of endpoints – all via its native cloud architecture.
The platform is the fifth partner for Mercedes from Silicon Valley, further strengthening the team’s integrated approach to the digital world.
CEO and team principal Toto Wolff said, Formula One is a highly technical sport where Intellectual Property is fundamental to creating and sustaining competitive advantage.”
“To win, we need complete confidence in the information and infrastructure that drive our team. I am delighted to have CrowdStrike as our cybersecurity provider and partner.”
George Kurtz, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder at CrowdStrike added “We believe the partnership between Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and CrowdStrike is setting a new standard in motorsport and cybersecurity.”
“It is an example of a world-beating team striving for excellence in a sophisticated and highly competitive world like Formula One, turning to the world leader in large-scale cloud-delivered cybersecurity to protect its massive infrastructure on race day and throughout the year.”
Data has always played an important role in F1, and the team will be working closely with global leaders in technology to harvest, transmit, encrypt, store, analyse and protect its data in the hunt for improved performance and reliability.
FOPA needs to learn from letter over concerns
The promoter of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix says the members of the Formula One Promoters’ Association (FOPA) needs to learn lessons from the media storm it created with its open letter to Formula One bosses.
FOPA, which represents sixteen of the promotors, issued a statement last week about the way the sport is being run. The statement was circulated to the press following a meeting of FOPA, and ahead of Formula One’s annual presentation to promoters the following day.
Arif Rahimov, executive director of Baku City Circuit, said the way in which the FOPA letter was reported was not in line with the message he had hoped it would convey. It also came just one week before the signing of a new contract that will keep the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on the calendar until 2023.
Speaking to ESPN, Rahimov said, “We are members of FOPA and I was present at that meeting, but it was never the idea to attack Formula One and never the idea to push them into doing something that they are not.”
The idea of FOPA was that all the promoters gather as one and speak with one voice about things that are not in their contract and things that are changing in their industry and to be able to help Formula One improve the sport.”
He says that the way the announcement has been made was wrong, it was never meant to be a press release and was intended to be a way of directing our concerns to Formula One about what can be improved in one.
Adding, “Again, it wasn’t meant as an attack, it was a way to address Formula One with our concerns and find a way to fix it. So it wasn’t really an attack on Formula One in the way it was presented in the press.”
Dutch government rules out state aid to bring back race
Efforts to bring back the Dutch Grand Prix will need to be made without the financial backing of the country’s government after it decided that aiding the race was “neither necessary nor justified.”
The countries top circuits, Zandvoort and Assen have been keen to see the country return to the calendar after a thirty-four-year hiatus. Plans for a race in the capital Amsterdam or other cities in the country have already been abandoned.
Interest in the race returning to the calendar has been fuelled by the rise of Max Verstappen, who will enter his fifth season this year. Zandvoort securing an exclusive agreement to try to negotiate a deal with championship bosses by the end of March 2019.
The minister for medical care and sports in the Netherlands Bruno Bruins wrote to the Dutch parliament to indicate an F1 race would bring “considerable” economic value and benefit businesses.
However, he said: “The question is whether this justifies the use of tax resources from the [national] government. The government is of the opinion that this is not the case.”
Bruins outlined a combination of the specific circumstances around an F1 race, the government’s own sports policy and the fact this would be an annual event.
Should Zandvoort fail to negotiate a deal for 2020, the organisers of the Moto GP Dutch Grand Prix at Assen have indicated they would be interested in the race and say they have the funding in place.
A report by FIA race director Charlie Whiting last year said Assen would require minimal changes to meet the necessary standard for F1.
The cost to make any adjustments would be added to the estimated €20million required to earn a place on the F1 calendar, plus the investment required to organise the event.
Zandvoort has indicated it was not entirely dissatisfied with Bruins’ letter, saying he is “prepared to support the event through model guarantees”, and will persevere with its efforts.
The Week Ahead
Next week, teams will continue with the launch the 2019 cars, as we said last week, The news agendas will be dominated by the teams setting their positions ahead of testing, as ever we will need to cut through the spin. But take a cautious view.
We will also be building up to testing which begins on the 18th February, of course, the teams will want as much testing as possible. We will get into this in more detail with our Prixview on Wednesday. But this is also an important time in business as we hear about new partners and sponsors.
It’s not only teams, it broadcasters to, but this week Steve Jones has confirmed he is staying with Channel 4 and an official announcement on finalised coverage plans for the 2019 season is also expected imminently.
The news agenda will be led by certain teams depending on what day they launch. So it’s hard to say what stories will emerge as the drivers begin talking, and that’s the interesting point. We need to read between the lines.
Renault will be the most interesting, I imagine the team will be asked about the Carlos Ghosn scandal. We want to hear how the team has reacted to the crisis and the impact on the tea. However, I expect the team to use the launch to make it a good news story.
That’s all from F1 Today, we will be back with two special editions on Friday 21ST and Monday 25th February, we will be back to normal on Monday 4th of March. We will bring you full coverage of pre-season testing from Monday 18th February.