Hamilton says 2021 looks great
Lewis Hamilton says that the data and research into the 2021 regulations makes him believe it will be easier for cars to follow and says they look “great.”
The five times champion has been a critic of the process undertaken to agree to the regulation changes and has not held back in raising his concerns, which have included the fear that ideas like reverse-grid qualifying races next season are “an excuse for not doing a good enough job”.
During the Russian Grand Prix, F1 CEO Chase Carey and managing director for motorsport and technical director Ross Brawn, met with drivers over the Russian Grand Prix weekend to provide them with an update.
Asked by Motorsport.com if he felt more informed or would still like more inclusion, Hamilton said: “It’s been a huge step for us to be involved, it’s a big step for all the drivers to be united. We’re building a new and better relationship with the FIA, and I think they’ve been quite open.”
“There are things that we ask about and they are like ‘we can’t change it now’…but there’s no such thing as ‘can’t’ for an engineer.” The Englishman says that there are lots of things which can be improved, but says he wants to be there when they come in.
However, Hamilton remains concerned that the cars will be getting slower and heavier, and said that he thinks the 2021 generation will be “two or three seconds off” the lap times at present. But, he knows Liberty and the FIA are “working really hard at it.”
Renault’s missed opportunity with McLaren
Renault F1 Managing director Cyril Abiteboul says the manufacturers’ failure to secure a closer relationship with McLaren from 2021 onwards represents a “lost opportunity.”
In negotiations between the two teams for a new deal, Renault proposed a strengthened partnership between the car manufactures, that would have seen them collaborating in various areas that the rules allow. However, McLaren preferred to stick to a straight engine supply deal, and instead opted to return to Mercedes for the first time since 2014.
Abiteboul admits Renault would be in a better position going forward in the future had it been able to agree on the sort of arrangement it wanted, working closely with and sharing information with McLaren. However, he insists that the manufacture would not be worse off.
He told Motorsport.com, “I think that we would have been stronger together, on the basis of our approach to the partnership. Without that, we’re weaker than we could have been, so in my opinion, it’s a lost opportunity.”
“But it’s not like it’s something that’s putting us in a massively different position from the position in which we are today. There is nothing happening between us and McLaren on these types of things, so there is no change, no improvement, but there is no degradation also.”
Abiteboul accepts that the proposal was a bit unusual, and Renault was trying to be open-minded about the way the teams co-operate. Adding that the Haas Ferrari model was fantastic.
He added, “So a lost opportunity, but we also know what we have to do, and we are completely geared up to being capable of working as a standalone team on all aspects.”
He believes that working together would have allowed both teams to close the gap to the top three, but McLaren wanted a straight forward customer relationship.
Abiteboul added “They wanted a supplier, and unarguably Mercedes is a very good supplier, and have a turn-key product, which would be done in accordance to Mercedes’ standards, but also specification. And McLaren is just focussing on their chassis. And there is some logic in that.”
“Our proposal was very much about a partnership in which we would share lots more, we would share lots about engine integration, chassis installation, but not just that.”
He said the objective of the relationship would been working on reducing that gap together, so creating more synergies, about equipment, about installation, about facilities.
Haas needs serious think after slipping down in the championship
Haas team principal Gunther Steiner admits he needs him to get his “thinking hat” on to tackle the likely substantial drop in constructors’ championship prize money following the team’s poor 2019 season.
Having finished fifth last season, the US team has had a difficult 2019 and has slipped to ninth in the constructors. If they don’t move up the order it would be there worst finish in its four seasons so far.
Asked by Motorsport.com how big a concern that was for future development budgeting, Steiner replied: “As always, if you lose out on big money like this, you always have to put your thinking hat on how not to waste money next year.”
“It’s not an existential problem, but for sure it’s not like ‘yeah, it doesn’t matter’. It’s something between – we need to manage it, it’s never a nice thing to manage less money, as we all know.” In an attempt to understand why it has struggled, particularly with tyre management, and has run differing aerodynamic packages across its two cars in the middle of the season.
Romain Grosjean favoured the package with which the team had begun the year, while Kevin Magnussen persisted with the latest upgrades. Asked by Motorsport.com if having to try two ultimately unsuccessful aero packages had been a particularly costly setback, Steiner replied, “Absolutely. It’s very expensive, and if you don’t gain anything, it’s wasted.”
“But I think what we learned from it – we know now where are at, and what not to do. Now we have to make sure that on next year’s car we don’t have a similar problem.” He says that the team knows what the problem is.
Haas’s season has also been surrounded by a short-lived and turbulent title sponsorship deal with Rich Energy. Steiner confirmed that parent company Haas Automation would make up any shortfall caused by the Rich saga which is a relief now its over.
Toro Rosso gives Yamamoto FP1 outing
Toro Rosso will give Naoki Yamamoto his first outing in Friday’s practice ahead of his home race at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend. The thirty one year old is currently champion of both Super Formula and Super GT series.
He will replace Pierre Gasly, who will return alongside Daniil Kvyat for the rest of the weekend at Suzuka. Yamamoto is backed by Honda, Toro Rosso’s engine partner and the owner of the Japanese circuit.
In Super GT, he team-mates with 2009 world champion Jenson Button. Last year, the Englishman said he thought Yamamoto was talented enough to be in F1.
Yamamoto said driving an F1 car had been “a dream of mine since I was a kid”, adding that he first watched them in action at Suzuka 27 years ago.
He told BBC News, “To get this chance at Suzuka – a very important circuit for all Japanese racing drivers – in front of such a big crowd of Japanese fans, will make the experience even more special.”
“I have prepared as well as possible for this, spending time as part of the Toro Rosso team at several grand prix weekends. I want to enjoy the experience of driving an F1 car as much as possible and I will be trying my very best to get the most out of it.”
Honda’s head of brand and communications, Katsuhide Moriyama said “We hope Naoki makes the most of this opportunity, that he learns from it and that it helps him as a racing driver. We also hope that seeing Yamamoto on track will serve as an inspiration to young Japanese drivers, so that in the near future.”
Red Bull are yet to decide of the driver line up for 2020 but has confirmed that Daniil Kvyat will stay at Toro Rosso. Meanwhile, Honda has been planning their engine usage in recent races to ensure all four of their cars are in the best possible competitive shape for the home grand prix.
2020 testing reduced
F1 pre-season testing has been reduced to two three day tests, a reduction of two days. The twenty two race calendar, has meant a “compromise” has been reached to allow teams to reduce time away from home.
The two three-day tests will continue to be held ‘s Circuit de Barcelona –Catalunya and take place on February 19-21 and then February 26-28.
The in-season third test in Barcelona has been dropped along with the fourth test in July/August, but the fifth test post season will likely take place in Abu Dhabi probably on 01-02 December.
Campos looking to enter F1 in 2021
A Spanish team is pushing to enter F1 in 2021, with former Mercedes test driver Pascal Wehrlein named as a driver. The proposed team by Campos which nearly entered the sport 2010 is restarting the project, after selling its F1 team to the now-defunct HRT team.
The budget cap has been placed back on the agenda as part of the sweeping overall to the technical regulations due to be introduced in 2021. Liberty Media, who own the sport, are hoping the changes level up the field, allowing the smaller teams a better chance of competing with those at the front of the grid.
Wehrlein, who raced for Manor and Sauber in 2017 and 2018 respectively and contested the most recent Formula E season with Campos-supported team Mahindra, and has remained involved in F1 through a Ferrari development role. The other driver linked with the project is Spaniard Alex Palou.
Salvatore Gandolfo, CEO of Campos told ESPN, “Joining the Formula 1 World Championship in 2021 shall be a long-term project. We are aware of the big challenges ahead of us, but we have a team of experts working day and night and the financial solidity required by the FIA to make this project a success.”
“With the new budget cap, the new distribution of incomes and the new technical and sporting regulations, there is a great opportunity for smaller teams to compete and ultimately to make the F1 more interesting and balanced again.”
Campos hopes that entering the sport can revive Spanish interest in the sport which has dropped off since Fernando Alonso quit the sport at the end of 2018. It held meetings with F1 CEO Chase Carey and F1’s head of motorsport Ross Brawn in May.
On Thursday, F1 released a statement downplaying the seriousness of the Campos bid. It read: “Following publicity in recent days from several entities that have indicated their ambition to participate in the FIA Formula One World Championship from 2021.”
“While Formula 1 appreciates their interest, we can confirm that there are no serious discussions with any persons or companies about the admission of a new team.”