McLaren has “serious concerns” over Honda
McLaren’s executive director Zak Brown has expressed “serious concerns” over the capability of engine supplier Honda after the Japanese manufacturer failed for bringing upgrades for this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
McLaren and Honda are in the third year of their partnership, with the team is yet to score a point this season, and Brown has said the latest setback has put McLaren “near our limit”.
Brown said “The executive committee have now given us our marching orders. We’re not going to go into another year like this, in hope.”
“I don’t want to get into what our options are. Our preference is to win the world championship with Honda. But at some point, you need to make a decision as to whether that’s achievable. And we have serious concerns.” Brown added that missing upgrades which don’t perform you can’t wait too long.
Honda boss Yusuke Hasegawa has said that it would be “very tight” to have a major upgrade ready for this weekend’s race in Canada, but Brown suggested it is still unclear how much longer those updates will take to arrive.
He said “We don’t have a definitive timeline, which is concerning because the pain is great and we can’t sit around forever. We were eagerly awaiting this upgrade, as were our drivers, and it’s a big disappointment that it’s not coming.”
Earlier this year reports suggest that McLaren had a preliminary discussion with its former engine supplier Mercedes. Brown says he believes a customer team can win in Formula One.
Alonso will stay if McLaren convinces him they can win
Fernando Alonso suggests that he will stay with McLaren if the team can win races by September. Alonso is yet to finish on the podium since returning to McLaren in 2015.
Asked in today’s press conference ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, what would keep him at the team, Alonso said “We have to win. If we are winning, before September or something like that, I will make a decision and I will stay.”
Alonso’s comments follow McLaren executive director Zak Brown saying yesterday that he has “serious concerns” about Honda and saying the team was “near our limit”.
Asked if he would definitely leave McLaren if it was not winning by September, Alonso replied: “You never know, you cannot be 100% now in June about a decision for next year that I don’t even start to consider.”
Speaking about Brown, Alonso said “He wants to win, he wants to put McLaren again in a contender position for the championship. After three years we are not in that position so things have to change, I guess for the team.”
Brown admitted he wants to be world champions, that’s why he joined the project and if Alonso wants to change he can. However, says he can’t say anything now until after the summer.
“small nuances” cost Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says that his struggles in the Russian and Monaco Grand Prix’s were because of “small nuances” in the way the car was set up.
The three times world champion has won half of the six Grand Prix’s so far this season, but he trails Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by twenty-five points.
But Hamilton has struggled to get the ultra-soft tyres to work on smooth asphalt and that has been worse that team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Hamilton told Autosport “In Sochi, we had different car set-ups. Initially, it didn’t look like they were massively different, but just small nuances. For example, corner entry stability and balance, as opposed to mid-corner to exit, [the cars] were set-ups differently.”
“I had a very unstable car on the way into the corner, so the way I ended up having to drive the car was with more understeer mid-corner. It was lots of complicated things.”
Hamilton explained that variations in brake bias and mechanical balance on his car compared to Bottas’s exacerbated the problems in Monaco.
Corner cutting clamp down
The FIA has expanded their corner cutting clamp down to deter drivers from cutting the third chicane ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.
Cutting the final corner has been long-running problems at the tricky chicane, with the FIA tightening the protocol in recent years. Two years ago, higher kerbs were put into stop the drivers from cutting the corner, plus they must run around a bollard to slow down.
The same protocol has now also been put in place for the turn eight/nine chicane, where the gravel run-off area has been replaced by asphalt.
In his note race director Charlie Whiting said “Any driver who fails to negotiate Turn 9 by using the track, and who passes completely to the left of the orange kerb element on the apex of the corner, must keep completely to the left of the orange speed bump on the exit of the corner and rejoin the track at the far end of the asphalt run-off area.”
Whiting said also that a red and white block would be put in place which drivers would have to keep left off before rejoining the circuit.
The only time when drivers will not have to comply with these requirements is if they have been forced off the track by a rival.
Ferrari set deadline on Vettel’s future
Ferrari has told Sebastian Vettel he has to decide his future with the team by the Italian Grand Prix, according to German media. The German’s contract with the team expires at the end of the season, but he is expected to say with the team.
According to German media, Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne wants a firm decision over Vettel’s future by early September. There appears to be limited for Vettel, as Mercedes Valtteri Bottas is on a one year deal.
Ferrari currently has no drivers currently signed for 2018, with Mercedes also wanting to keep options open. Vettel’s future may hang with Kimi Raikkonen, whose future could Kimi Raikkonen’s future set to hinge on another deal extension or retirement from the sport.
One alternative option for Ferrari is believed to involve Daniel Ricciardo in place of Raikkonen, though it is understood Vettel could resist this following a strained time as team-mates during the 2014 season at Red Bull.
That’s all from F1 Today this week and we will be bringing you full coverage of the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend, with commentary of every session @F1VaultLive on Twitter. F1 Today returns next week. Preview here