Teams considering standard parts
McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown says that Formula One teams are considering introducing standard parts as a cost-cutting measure. As the sport enters a new post-Ecclestone era, Sporting Director Ross Brawn is looking at ways of simplifying the sport and creating better racing.
The standardisation of parts has been discussed at length an number of times over the years, with Brown believing it would be a good way to reduce costs should it be part of a wider cost cap. He told Autosport “There are some that think we should standardise some parts. Teams have shown they’re very clever.”
“I don’t think you can control costs just by controlling what’s on the cars. We’ll just find other areas, the windtunnel being a great example: we pulled that back and now CFD budgets are through the roof, so I don’t think you can manage it only by standardisation of parts.” He added.
Brown says things which fans can’t tell visibly are different and don’t improve the show could be standardised to reduce costs. However, admits that teams would find other ways of spending the money.
Adding “So I think things can be standardised to reduce costs that don’t improve the show and the fans don’t recognise the difference. But I still think we need a budget cap, which most other sports have.”
Technical Director for the sport Ross Brawn told the BBC “The DNA of F1 is always a fair element of technical challenge and I think that’s healthy, there is a need for the cars to be different, and there is a need for the fans to follow the cyclic competitiveness of the different teams.”
Bottas a like for like replacement – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says that the team’s new driver Valtteri Bottas is a like-for-like replacement for Nico Rosberg, which he believes will help the dynamic with Lewis Hamilton.
Bottas joins from Williams; so far he has failed to take his first win but has finished on the podium nine times. He has finished behind Rosberg and Hamilton on a number of times. The Finn has already spent time at Mercedes’ factory and Wolff – previously part of Bottas’s management team – believes he will slot in neatly alongside Hamilton.
Wolff told Autosport “The balance between Valtteri and Lewis works. They are two very different personalities and for us, it was important to fill Nico’s shoes.”
“Nico had a certain role in the team and Valtteri pretty much fits into that. We believe the interaction and dynamics between the two drivers is going to work well.” He added. Bottas has been signed on a one-year deal because a number of big names are available for 2018.
Claire Williams said recently “Valtteri is someone who has long been talked about as a future world champion in F1. It will be interesting to see how he fares.”
No way of knowing if we will dominate – Wolff
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the changes in regulations this mean that the team has no way of knowing if the team will continue to dominate for another year or fall behind its rivals.
Mercedes have won 86.4% of all the Grand Prix’s over the last three seasons and three drivers’ titles and three constructors’ championships since 2014. Their recent domination was one of the main reasons its rivals pushed so hard for a regulation change this year.
Wolff admits he has no way of knowing whether his team has done enough over the winter to hold on to its advantage. He told Mercedes’s website “”When there is a regulation change it gives opportunities and risks, and we have set aggressive targets of where we think the car should be going, and also the engine, and we have been flat-out to achieve those targets”
“But will those targets be enough or will other teams come out of the blocks better than we do? We don’t know.” Wolff adds regardless of the regulation change, you are at this time of year sceptical and ask yourself if you’ve done a good enough job.
Mercedes have had a turbulent winter, with the departures of Nico Rosberg and Paddy Lowe, which caused the restructuring of the technical department. Wolff added decisions need making “To make the team stronger going into the future you need to carefully evaluate which steps you’re taking, and this is why every day is important.”
Shanghai hints at renewing deal
The local government in Shanghai has given a firm hint this year’s Chinese Grand Prix will not be the last, despite the race not having a contract post-2017.
This season’s Grand Prix is currently due to be the last under the current deal. However the race organisers Juss Event Management has previously declared their confidence in sorting out a deal, it is understood that there has been no rush to finalise matters.
The takeover by Liberty Media has not led to the race’s future being sorted out any sooner. But, government documents say the race is an n integral part of the local authority’s plans to drive growth in the region.
In what was called the ‘Shanghai Sports Industry Development Program 2016-2020’, the local government said it wanted showpiece events like F1. “By 2020 [Shanghai] commits to keeping the momentum of holding an iconic event in each month.”
“Firstly, to improve the operation and effectiveness of the eight exiting big events, such as the F1 Chinese Grand Prix…Thirdly, to grow the appeal of Shanghai to international top commercial sport events…and add 1-2 big events by 2020.”
The plan said that they needed to improve the operation of big events and grow the appeal of the city as a top commercial sports event. New CEO Chase Carey had said, “I definitely would agree that the US is an area of opportunity for the sport in the longer term.”
“But so is the Americas and Asia – and we certainly believe that all these are important areas of growth.”
Renault better placed for 2017 – Palmer
Jolyon Palmer says Renault is better placed for a more competitive season. The French manufacturer had a difficult 2016, following the takeover of Lotus and spent most of the last season rebuilding the team.
The turbulent return has also seen the departure of team boss Frederic Vasseur after just one season in the role. Palmer has told Sky Sports News “The team’s in a very healthy place.”
Palmer said “Fred left, which was a shame, but we’ve still got Cyril [Abiteboul], Jerome Stroll as well, so these guys have run Formula 1 teams and been very senior in Renault.” He added maybe now the team is in very good hands and maybe simpler now.
Palmer says last year the team had their hands tied because of the issues with Lotus, but the feeling within the team is they can actually do something. He added they still have “We’ve still got some great people in the team, people who have won races and even won championships with Renault before, so everyone is super excited to get going.”
The brit admitted that his debut season was “harder than I could have imagined” after finally landing his full-time F1 break. But in the latter part of the season he was outperforming his team-mate Kevin Magnussen, gives him hope for a more competitive season.
Neilsen heads to factory role
Williams Sporting Manager Steven Nielsen will continue his role initially and work alongside incoming team manager Dave Redding to ensure a smooth handover.
Last night, McLaren announced Redding would be leaving the team and would be replaced by erstwhile chief mechanic Paul James.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Williams made it clear that Redding’s move has come about because Nielsen is eager to take a more factory-based role for next season.
A statement from Claire Williams read “From the start, our sporting manager, Steve Nielsen has always been clear about his desire to do less travelling following the end of the 2017 season and we fully understood and respected his request given he has been in travelling roles for over 30 years.”
Ms Williams says Nielsen has done a fantastic job since joining the team and that Redding will have a seamless handover this season, before taking full responsibility for the race team in 2018.