Honda reshuffles engine department
Honda has re organised its Formula One management team to improve performance next season. The move comes after McLaren terminated their contract with the manufacture after three difficult seasons marred by poor performance and reliability.
The job that had been done by Yusuke Hasegawa will be split into two new positions, with Jenson Button’s former enginer Toyoharu Tanabe becoming technical director and Yasuaki Asaki becoming head of development, as well as effectively team principal.
Hasegawa is to move to a new role focusing on research and development for road car projects. McLaren began it’s new relationship with Honda in 2015, the aim was to revive the glory of the late eighties and early ninties.
However the engines have proved unreliable and uncompetitive, with the best results being fifth places from Fernando Alonso. McLaren this season finished ninth in the constructors with their faith and patience running out.
Katsuhide Moriyama, Honda’s chief officer for brand and communication, said that separating out the roles of technical leader and racing director would “evolve our structure so that both the development team and racing/testing team can assume their respective responsibilities more speedily”.
Grid penalties revision
The ways grid penalties are awarded are set to change next season, in a bid to avoid confusion about where drivers start. At a number of races this year the grid was altered massively thanks to penalties for both drivers and component changes, with the latter causing most of the headaches.
The Italian Grand Prix was a great example, with nine out of twenty drivers taking penalties for either a gearbox or engine changes, meaning nearly all the cars didn’t start where they qualified. Until now, each engine component above the four permitted would carry either a five or ten place penalty with them all being added together. That created a situation where drivers were getting penalties bigger than the grid.
The new regulations for next year place a maximum penalty of fifteen places for component changes and any after that the drivers will be sent to the back of the grid in order of penalty awarded.
Other regulation changes in brief
- Regulations relating to procedures for starting or resuming a race behind the safety car.
- Changing the event timetable to increase flexibility.
- Ensuring that testing of previous cars may only take place on tracks currently holding an FIA Grade 1 or 1T licence.
- Provision for demonstration events in previous cars which does not constitute testing. No such demonstrations may exceed 50km in length and only tyres manufactured specifically for this purpose by the appointed supplier may be used.
- Changes to ensure that oil cannot be used as fuel.
- Introduction of a detailed specification for oil.
- A minimum weight and volume for energy storage (batteries).
- Changes to position of cameras and wing mirrors to accommodate the Halo.
The FIA has confirmed the 2018 calendar as the following bellow with the return of the French and German Grand Prix’s as Azerbaijan moves to April with next years world cup pushing Russia back to September.
Vettel vowed to be wiser
Sebastian Vettel hopes that thinking “a bit wiser” will help him improve as a driver and add to his four world championships in the future. The German lost the title to Mercedes Lewis Hamilton after dire performances due to driver error and technical issues in the second half of the season.
When asked if he enjoyed racing Hamilton this season, Vettel, who was speaking at an event to open the FIA’s new Hall of Fame in Paris in which he was inducted, said: “Yes, definitely. There is no doubt about his skill and his speed. He’s very quick and he doesn’t do many mistakes.”
“Jacques [Villeneuve] said [Michael] Schumacher was the best one and the hardest one to fight against. It’s exactly that, if you fight against the best, it elevates you onto the next level.”
Giovinazzi gets reassured over his future
Ferrari has told Antonio Giovinazzi that he is firmly in the frame still for a full time race seat in Formula One, despite him missing out on a full time race seat with Sauber next season.
The Italian was in the frame to replace Marcus Ericsson at the rebranded Alfa Romeo Sauber team next season, but the Swedish drivers links to the teams owners saw him retain his seat.
Ferrari’s president Sergio Marchionne has made it clear that he still believes Giovinazzi will get a race opportunity in the future. Marchionne told Motorsport.com “Giovinazzi is a good guy, and it’s just a question time. He should get his chance.”
“He will be Ferrari’s third driver and he has a programme of testing with Sauber. We understand his desire to race, but at the moment there are no vacancies. The agreement with Sauber is a way to find an outlet for the youngsters in our Driver Academy, and it will take time to streamline this system.” He added.
There will be speculation next season should Giovinazzi could get the seat in 2019, if Leclerc impresses enough to move into Kimi Raikkonen should he retire. The Finn has only a years extension on his contract and will need to deliver more next year if he is to justify another deal.
When asked if Leclerc could be a possible replacement for Raikkonen in 2019, Marchionne said: “Leclerc has been asked to give his best to the Alfa Romeo Sauber project in 2018. Then we will see.”
Marchionne said he was not raising expectations too high for 2018, despite the benefits of an increased budget that Sauber will get. Saying “The power unit will be 2018 and there will be two talented young drivers. The first year of collaboration can not have very high expectations, but we want to grow and improve.”
Hamilton tops team bosses driver poll
A poll conducted by Autosport has ranked Lewis Hamilton as number one this season, with Esteban Ocon coming in in fifth place. The magazine asked all ten team bosses to rank their top ten drivers, based on on-track performances over the course of this year’s 20 races.
All the drivers are awarded points for position in that top ten based on the standard system, with the winner is the driver with the most points. Hamilton was ninety points ahead of his nearest rival Max Verstappen, with Sebastian Vettel two points behind the Dutchman.
The top ten in full
- Lewis Hamilton 233
- Max Verstappen 143
- Sebastian Vettel 141
- Daniel Ricciardo 112
- Esteban Ocon 73
- Fernando Alonso 65
- Kimi Raikkonen 49
- Carlo Sainz Jr / Nico Hulkenberg
- Valtteri Bottas 39