1,000th Grand Prix the “brightest symbol”
F1 managing director of motorsport and technical director Ross Brawn says that the 1,000th championship Grand Prix this weekend in Shanghai is the “brightest symbol” of the “amazing history from which to move forward”.
As Liberty Media, the teams and the FIA continue to discuss the next set of regulations the sport prepares to celebrate the milestone this weekend. Tradition and elements of its history, like team payments for enduring participation and success, and the protection of individual constructors, have been a key part of the negotiations for the planned 2021 revolution.
Writing in Auto Magazine published by the FIA, Brawn said “an opportunity to trace out a new path for a sport that has few rivals, in terms of the spectacle it offers and its global reach.”
“It [F1] has an amazing history from which to move forward and this 1000th grand prix is its brightest symbol.” He says that they want to make F1 more spectacular with more unpredictability while making it sustainable both financially and ecologically.
Adding “For example, there’s the whole story of the power unit, which is a masterpiece of technology and efficiency. There is also a common will to improve.”
“All of us who love this sport know that the world is changing fast and we want the next generation of Formula 1 to keep pace with these changes.” Brawn says that the desire to push to the human and technological limits is part of human nature.
He says that when we get to the 2,000th Grand Prix “people who will watch the 2000th grand prix will look back with the same sense of pride and the same hopes for the future of this sport that we feel today.”
Gasly hopeful of Red Bull breakthrough
Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly has admitted that his start with the team has been “difficult” but remains confident that they will find a breakthrough with the teams 2019 car.
The Frenchman heads into his third weekend for Red Bull looking to have a strong weekend, after his first two where he missed out on the top 10 in qualifying and registered a best race finish of eighth. He told Sky Sports “I will work with the team and try to improve what I can on my side because for sure there are areas where I can do better.”
“I will try to work with them to see what we can do with the set-up, to make me feel more confident to push and being able to attack because at the moment it’s quite difficult.”
Although Red Bull has been pleased by the early performance of their new Honda engine, Red Bull have admitted they have work to do on their RB15.
Team principal Christian Horner said in Bahrain, “Our operating window looks quite narrow and Max is coping extremely well. It’s been harder for Pierre, but that will come I’m sure.”
Gasly who enjoyed a successful first season with sister team Toro Rosso believes that he is still acclimatising to the car. Saying “I will work on it and hopefully with the team, we will find direction to make it feel a bit more suitable for my driving.”
However, the team believes that he has taken confidence from his recovery drive in Bahrain, where he went from thirteenth from eighth despite the team struggling with tyres all weekend. He said, “It was important for Pierre to have a strong race and he did that.”
“Some of his overtaking, particularly on Perez, was very impressive. His pace in clear air, particularly in the second half of the race, was strong so I think he’ll have taken a lot of confidence out of that.”
He says that the relationship is one of trust.
Honda a “breath of fresh air”
Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey says that Honda is a “breath of fresh air” and is confident that the Japanese manufacturer will soon be able to match Mercedes and Ferrari.
Newey has also admitted that the team has failed to get the chassis of the RB15 to the standard they want, following an underwhelming weekend in Bahrain. After twelve years and four drivers’ and constructors’ world championship doubles, the team decided to split with Renault and switch to Honda.
Renault’s underperformance during the current hybrid-era of F1 prompted Red Bull to end that relationship, with Newey describing the final two years as a “broken marriage” and explaining how Honda has revitalised the Milton Keynes-based outfit.
Speaking to Natalie Pinkham’s podcast, he said “Honda are really a breath of fresh air. They are great people to work with, very straight forward, very well organised.”
“It’s actually motivated the whole team having this new relationship with them. They always deliver what they say. No complaints at all there.” Newey
Williams struggles won’t hurt – Russell
George Russell believes that the struggles of his Williams team will not hurt his future career because close observers, including Mercedes, know how he is performing in the circumstances.
The Englishman became a Mercedes driver in 2017, before winning back to back titles in GP3 and F2 last year, and has signed a multi-year deal with both the German manufacturer and Williams. However, the team is considerably slower and is firmly rooted to the back of the grid.
Speaking ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Russell told Autosport, “Nobody realises in the outside world but the people who will make a difference to my career moving forward, they know exactly how my performance is and they are keeping a close eye on that.”
During the race in Bahrain, Russell ran as high as twelfth during the pit stops, but a late safety car that prevented Russell falling three laps behind the leaders. But he did finish once again ahead of his more experienced teammate Robert Kubica.
He added, “My aspirations are to get the team further up the grid and make the most of sessions that are a bit trickier, maybe mixed conditions, and prove what I can do behind the wheel,” he said.
“The guys here, the guys at Mercedes, they know exactly how I’m performing. From my side, they’re the only people who need to know.
Russell believes from the outside that it is difficult for fans to fully understand whether a driver is doing a good job or not and that the people who know how he is performing know.
Russell reprised his 2017 and ’18 testing role with Mercedes in Bahrain last week.
He swapped his Williams for the 2019 Mercedes and set the fastest time of the two-day test, impressing the team in the process. Mercedes chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin said: “It’s been great to have George back in our car and many thanks to Williams for allowing it.”
Renault has “similar problems” to 2018
Nico Hulkenberg says that this years Renault car has “similar problems” with its characteristics to last year. The French manufacturer finished fourth in the constructors’ championship last year, and this year had targeted cutting into the top three.
However, this season the team has struggled this season to establish itself again as best of the rest, with poor reliability has left it with just six points from two races, thanks to Hulkenberg’s seventh place in the season opener.
Asked by Motorsport.com if Renault has improved in some of the key areas this season or still has some of its old weaknesses, Hulkenberg said: “We have improved on a couple of things and definitely I think the engine side has improved quite a lot over the winter.”
“Obviously [in Bahrain qualifying] we had a problem related with that, but I think that was a special case. The engine side has improved a lot.” Hulkenberg says despite the teams work on the aero side over the winter the team has similar problems to last year.
Hulkenberg has been joined at Renault this season by Daniel Ricciardo, who has failed to finish in his first two starts with the team. However, the race winner has admitted that he is still struggling to adapt to the car.
Pushed on that area of car performance by Motorsport.com, as he has a better reference than his new teammate, Hulkenberg admitted it was “similar” to 2018.
He added, “Obviously I think he comes from a spoilt car, so he has to reset a little bit and the references are a bit different. But it’s good to have that kind of feedback.”
Ghosn accuses Renault of “backstabbing”
Former Renault boss Carlos Ghosn has accused his former employer Nissan of “backstabbing” and says he is innocent of all charges. In a pre-recorded video released by his legal team, he said he was the victim of a “conspiracy” and wanted a fair trial.
Nissan said in response that there was “substantial evidence” against him. The businessman was arrested again for the fourth time, while on bail awaiting trial on charges of financial misconduct and breach of trust.
Nissan said “Aside from any criminal matters, Nissan’s internal investigation has uncovered substantial evidence of blatantly unethical conduct. Further discoveries related to [Mr] Ghosn’s misconduct continue to emerge.”
In the video released on Tuesday and in his first public statement since his first arrest in November, Ghosn maintained his denial of any wrongdoing or misconduct.
Mr Ghosn said in the video, released at a news conference, “This is about a plot, this is about conspiracy, this is about backstabbing – that’s what we are talking about.”
“There was a fear that the next step of the alliance… would in a certain way threaten some people or eventually threaten the autonomy of Nissan.” The Brazilian was the architect of the alliance between Nissan and French carmaker Renault and brought Mitsubishi on board in 2016.
He also was the driving force behind the manufacturer’s decision to buyout Lotus and bring back the French manufacturer to F1 as a works team in 2016.
The 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.