Renault needs to do better and not criticise Haas
Haas team principal Gunter Steiner is critical of Renault’s customer team complaints, suggesting the manufacturer should be more concerned about doing a better job in Formula One.
Renault’s F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul said that the advance of B-teams could be a threat to manufacturers and works teams. He says that they have already become a challenge for teams like Renault, despite them having thirty percent more resources.
He told Autosport, “If they are capable of combining their resources with other teams, or getting the benefits of synergies within the scope of a budget cap – that is a problem for us and a problem for at least two other teams in the field.”
The issue around customer teams has returned to the sports agenda this month, after Haas, a Ferrari customer team, started to lead the midfield. A Renault rule change will stop teams buying brake ducts from other outfits from 2020 was approved by the Strategy Group and F1 Commission.
The move will have consequences for Haas, which buys its parts from Ferrari.
Steiner believes Renault is just hunting for excuses for its own lack of performance after it has made a disappointing start to the campaign without the step forward in pace it had hoped for.
When asked by Autosport, if there was a bit more “heat” in relations between Haas and Renault, Steiner said, “They should do a better job and then they wouldn’t get the heat. It is in their own hands. In my opinion, they created the problem themselves by not performing enough and spending too much money.”
“I think they need to up their own game and not try to lower our performance by hindering us. They are not getting closer to the big ones, that is the problem.”
He says that the Haas business model isn’t preventing any other teams from being successful in F1. Although, Steiner admitted that the change on brake duct if agreed, would be expensive for his team but insisted it would not cause dramatic problems.
Ghosn removed from Nissan board
Nissan’s shareholders have voted to remove the former chairman Carlos Ghosn from its board. The decision came following an extraordinary shareholders meeting held on Monday.
Ghosn was re-arrested in Tokyo last week while out on bail pending trial over claims of financial misconduct. Shareholders also voted to remove Mr Ghosn’s former right-hand man Greg Kelly and to appoint Renault chairman Jean-Dominique Senard as a director.
Ghosn was key in bringing the French manufacturer back to F1 as a works team in 2015 as well as the alliance between Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi. He is credited with turning around the fortunes of Nissan and Renault over several years.
He was first detained in November and faces charges of financial misconduct and breach of trust. Prosecutors said Mr Ghosn’s latest arrest related to transfers of Nissan funds totalling $15m (£11.5m) between 2015 and 2018.
They allege that $5m of that amount was used by Mr Ghosn for personal expenditure. It is been reported that his latest arrest last week is related to a dealership in Oman. He is also been charged with underreporting his pay, using the group to offset personal losses and serious charge of breach of trust.
Ghosn denies the charges and said he would “tell the truth” to the media this week. His lawyer said it was almost unheard of to re-arrest someone after being released on bail.
Silverstone nearing a new deal
The Financial Times is reporting that Liberty Media and the BRDC are nearing a deal to keep the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The circuit triggered a break clause in 2017 because they were unable to afford the rising cost of the deal.
Now, the British newspaper has reported that Liberty is in the final stages of agreeing to a new deal with the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC). The Northamptonshire circuit, which held the first championship grand prix in 1950, has been seen as a key race to be in the calendar.
The circuit signed a seventeen-year contract in 2009-10, but that had an annual rise in the fee which the circuit pays to F1. That fee was one of the main issues they had with the contract, negotiated with former CEO Bernie Ecclestone.
Formula One has also been looking at other race venues, and it has now emerged that they were looking at the race moving out of England for the first time in its ninety-four-year history.
Plans for a race near or in the Welsh capital Cardiff were shelved after Liberty Media concluded a move would not be possible by next year and stepped up talks with the BRDC, the FT said.
Currently, a compromise is being discussed with Liberty Media, demanding 18 million pounds a year, while the BRDC has offered 15 million pounds a year, the report said.
Liberty Media and BRDC did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment outside regular working hours.
Mercedes drivers fear Ferrari “disappearing”
Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas fear that Ferrari will “disappear” at this weekends Chinese Grand Prix, because of the straight-line speed the Scuderia showed in Bahrain.
Ferrari was clearly faster than Mercedes in Sakhir, with around four tenths between Charles Leclerc’s pole time and Hamilton in third. However, in the race, Hamilton and Bottas were able to secure Mercedes’ second one-two of the season after Leclerc’s late engine problem and Sebastian Vettel’s spin.
Following the race in Sakhir, Hamilton told Sky Sports “If they have this straight speed in the next race then we’ll be watching them disappear.” There are suggestions that Ferrari gained as much as half a second on the straights in Bahrain.
Asked if he was worried by the Shanghai International Circuit’s straight, Bottas replied: “Honestly it does, yes. We have seen [in Bahrain] Ferrari was making all the time on the straights and in China, there are even longer straights.”
“So we do need to work on [things]; for sure we are improving the car all the time and we have to review what we can do for the straight lines.” Mercedes are the most successful constructor and engine manufacturer in China, with five wins as a constructor with another three as an engine supplier.
Ferrari has not won in China since 2013, but locked out the front row last year before Sebastian Vettel was also caught out by the Safety Car and then hit by Max Verstappen when running third.
Mercedes are hoping that the loss of track time in Bahrain last week will not put them on the back foot, after failing to complete their planned programme, they managed “the important bits and leave with more information and understanding of the car and tyres” and “managed to test some developments that we plan to roll out over the next few races”.
Grosjean backs relaxing driving standards
GPDA director and Haas driver Romain Grosjean has backed the ideas of more relaxed stewarding around driving standards, however, has warned that F1 must not be rough-and-tumble like Formula E.
In Bahrain, a meeting took place between the stewards and acting race director Michael Masi met with drivers to discuss how best to deal with rules of engagement in wheel-to-wheel racing.
The discussions take place against a wider debate in the sport, about how much drivers should be allowed to battle hard and push each other, while not letting the standards slip and allowing bad driving.
The Frenchman told Motorsport.com, “I don’t think we want to go crazy, but I think if it’s not intentional and you go for an overtaking manoeuvre and you lock up and you touch, then it’s not the end of the world.”
“If you do a Grosjean at Spa 2012 or a [Nico] Hulkenberg at Spa last year – okay, it’s not intentional, but it’s got big consequences, so it’s got to be penalised. Same as [Sergio] Perez in Singapore.”
The new method appears to be, that if drivers only gain an unfair advantage they get a penalty unless the error causes some loss to them during the race.
Using the example of Charles Leclerc’s accident in Austin last year, he said “His race was already dead because he had damage on the front wing and the floor, so I think the consequences were not that bad.
“I think it’s a racing incident. His race was compromised, so what do we do? I think we should just say, ‘well, it’s lap one, everyone wants a position’.”
Grosjean believes that two-way discussion on driving standards is important so that a balance between racing and avoiding dangerous situations, like moving under braking, can be punished.
He added, “I think if that’s really something we’re strict on, for the rest, we should be allowed to race and have fun.”
Teams remain sceptical about Q4
F1 teams are sceptical that adding another section to qualifying next year will work unless they are given more tyres by Pirelli. In Bahrain, it was reported teams pushed forward with the idea of a four-session knockout qualifying at the recent Strategy Group and F1 Commission meetings.
However, the key to agreeing to the proposals was the simulations by a computer to find out how and if it could work, as well as whether or not drivers will have enough tyres to get through to the end.
It is understood that Pirelli is reluctant to provide extra sets free of charge for 2020, and teams will not want to approve a Q4 switch if there is a chance driver could run out of rubber.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the early indications were that the current allocation of 13 sets per weekend was probably not enough to work with the Q4 format.
He told Motorsport.com, “What you don’t want to end up with is cars not running in Q4 because there are no tyres left. So are there enough tyres to support the initiative? We’re open to any ideas but you have to really do your homework to make sure we don’t just change for the sake of change.”
Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says that it was important that the Q4 simulations were done properly to ensure there was no risk of trouble if it was approved.
Gasly admits to struggling with set up
Pierre Gasly has admitted he is still struggling to find the right set-up direction with his Red Bull, saying the team is yet to unlock the potential of the car.
The Frenchman who has been on the backfoot following a crash in Barcelona testing, scored his first points with eighth in Bahrain. That was partly because of the retirement of both Renaults. Meanwhile, teammate His teammate Max Verstappen finished third and fourth in the opening two races.
Gasly told Motorsport.com, “I need to find some direction with the set-up and see how the engineers can help me to make it feel more suitable to my driving, and also on my side to see what I can improve in terms of driving style.”
“I still feel like I cannot really do what I want inside the car. It’s just the fact that at the at the moment I just feel that I cannot really push, and the car doesn’t react as I would expect. There is more potential, but we need see how we can unlock it.”