Ferrari needs a cure for 2017 issues
Ferrari needs to find a cure for the issues they suffered last season if they are to fight with Mercedes for this year’s world title says team principal Maurizio Arrivabene.
The team became a major threat to Mercedes for the first time since the introduction of the V6 Hybrids, which were introduced in 2014. But Ferrari’s hopes of preventing Mercedes from winning a fourth consecutive title fell apart in the second half of the season because of reliability problems.
Ferrari did enjoy their most successful season on track since 2012. Speaking about the season, Arrivabene told ESPN “If you want to have a quick summary and want to use the example of the glass of water.”
“mid-season we were thirsty, and end-of-season we were using the water because we take a pill because we have a bit of headache and that’s the summary of the season.” He says that the team did work hard, but certain things went against them.
Arrivabene says that the team pushed hard and worked well together as a team, but some circumstances were not in Ferrari’s favour. He congratulated Mercedes who he said Ferrari would try their best to be better in 2018.
While Sebastian Vettel was second in the championship, it was a frustrating season for his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn did came his first pole in nine years but was ultimately unable to perform consistently throughout the season.
Raikkonen has been placed under pressure by chairman Sergio Marchionne to perform in 2018. The Finn believes that only “small changes” are needed for him to pull off a title charge.
Speaking about Raikkonen’s performances in 2017, Arrivabene said luck was not a factor. Saying “I don’t trust on luck or not luck, even if I’m Italian. I trust on fact and fact means points. Bad luck or good luck is not influencing this.”
McLaren set for rebrand – Brown
McLaren boss Zak Brown says that the team’s look will be the “biggest change” of all of the teams on the grid this year. For 2017 the team had a new black, orange and white livery in a bid to freshen up the team’s image following the sacking of longtime boss Ron Dennis.
Since Brown replaced Dennis as executive director last year and has been running the team differently, but his biggest decision has been to swap from Honda to Renault power units this season. There is expected to be another change in branding this season.
Brown told Motorsport.com “The car’s not going to look the same as last year. Our whole brand, the visibility of McLaren, is going to go to the next level and it’s going to be exciting.”
“We know what a lot of the other teams are going to look like, but hopefully people will see the biggest change on and off the track at McLaren going into Australia.” Asked if the team were going back to the eye conic orange livery, Brown said there would be a nod to it however that depends on sponsors.
As well as the car, there is also set to be graphical changes to the teams’ garage.
Brown has failed so far in one of his key aims of finding a title sponsor, there now appears to be chance of approach. He now says the team wants a “principal partner” rather than a “title sponsor”.
He says “all I’ve done is dropping the vernacular of title into principal and have looked at all of our commercial assets, which is not just the race car it’s our other forms of racing and things like our building and war rooms and things of that nature.”
Brown says he knows how to commercialise the team and has a plan to do that now. He also says that there is not much value in a title sponsor because that “diminishes the value of the name of the team when it’s being co-branded.”
Wehrlein to remain part of Mercedes
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Pascal Wehrlein will remain part of the team’s driver programme despite him losing his race seat for 2018. Wehrlein lost his Sauber seat to Charles Leclerc and is not a target to replace Felipe Massa at Williams.
Wolff has publicly said that the German’s ability has proved that he deserves a seat in Formula One and that a seat will be found because he is one of the fastest drivers on the grid. He told Autosport “At the moment it looks a little bit bitter as far as the available [race] driver seats are concerned.”
“But he’s definitely going to be on our team. [It is unclear] whether or not he actively participates in a racing series other than Formula 1. He will definitely remain part of our squad.” Wehrlein lost his seat because of Sauber’s new and more expansive partnership with Ferrari and Alfa Romeo.
Wehrlein, who scored all of Sauber’s points last season, suggested that his performances where overlooked because the team were so far off the pace. He said “I’m quite happy in the end with five points. Not all of the races have been as good as I wished but I think in general we did what we could do.”
The German says that even if he doesn’t get a race seat in F1 this season, he will not give up on a 2019 seat.
Brawn suggests changes in weekend format
Formula One managing director for sporting operations Ross Brawn, says that the format of Friday practices could change. Currently, the sport has two ninety minute sessions, but the Englishman says that could change in the future.
Brawn told Sky Sports “I think the length of a grand prix is about right. It’s not too long, it’s not too short, it engages you. We want a grand prix to evolve and have its highlights and come together at the end.”
“So I’m not sure that we should be thinking in terms of changing a grand prix length.” He says that it’s up for discussion whether you need two Friday sessions with an increasing number of races.
The Englishman is also looking at ways of getting fans closer to the sport, suggesting that open scrutineering could allow the fans to get closer to the cars and drivers.
Saying “It’s an essential part for the fans. So over a race weekend, could we do more to let the fans get closer to the cars? One proposal is to have open scrutineering, so the cars literally have to go out into the field to be scrutineered so the fans can come and see them.”
Force India plans to bring operations under one roof
Force India are looking at plans to bring the teams operations under one roof after the team enjoyed the most successful season in their history. The team finished fourth in the constructor’s championship in 2017, their best result in their history.
The fourth place means that the team gets more money from FOM, with technical director Andrew Green saying the injection of funds allowed them to accelerate their development for this year and build knowledge of the car.
Force India also wants to bring its entire operation onto one site as well as enhancing its Silverstone operation. Chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer told Motorsport.com “Co-location helps a lot, if everyone is under the same roof, which we are not as we’re split 75/25. Hopefully, in two or three years’ time, we’ll have everyone under the same roof.”
Currently, the teams’ wind tunnel operation is based in Cologne, German. Szafnauer says that the team is working to improve its German operations while looking at increasing its manufacturing capacity and CFD efficiency. Saying “More manufacturing capacity helps and windtunnel efficiency and CFD efficiency also helps.”
“So there are some big pieces out there that we still need to put in place to either take that next step or stay where we are. Some of those things are happening now; some will be in place in the short term while others are more medium term.”
Fourth place was key in allowing the team to make these changes. But Szafnauer warned, “If the prize money dips at all, it’s the discretionary part we will be unable to spend and it’s this part that gives us our development capabilities and doing all our experiments to be able to develop the car’s performance.”
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