Ferrari to have ‘completely new’ 2021 engine
Ferrari is going to introduce a “completely new” power unit next season as they attempt to return to the front of the field, with team principal Mattia Binotto stating the early signs are “very promising”.
Following ‘clarifications’ of the engine regulations over the winter break, Ferrari went from having one of the fastest cars on the straights to one of the slowest which has dropped them into the midfield. Ferrari has less than a quarter of its main rivals Mercedes, and have dropped to sixth in the constructors.
The lack of horsepower has also had a knock-on effect for customer teams Alfa Romeo and Haas, who sit eighth and ninth. Although F1 rules are stable in terms of upgrades for 2021, Ferrari is planning a big change to get them back into contention.
Binotto, who has been under pressure this year, told Sky Sports, “We do not have currently the best engine. I think that next year we may have a completely new power unit. As Ferrari, we have invested a lot in developing further the power unit for 2021, furthermore for 2022.”
He says that the feedback from dyno on performance and reliability is very promising. Adding “We have to be efficient in the way we are planning, creative in the way we are testing. For what I can see, I am happy with the results.”
If the power unit does result in gains at power-dependent circuits it could bring Ferrari back into the fight with Mercedes and Ferrari. The team’s car has progressed through-out the season on less power dependant circuits, allowing Charles Leclerc is fifth in the drivers’ standings and has secured three second-row qualifying results as well as two unexpected podiums.
Next season, Leclerc will be partnered by Carlos Sainz, who is replacing four-time F1 world champion, Sebastian Vettel.
Seventh title taking toll on Mercedes
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff says the teams charge to its seventh consecutive drivers and constructors has taken its toll on everyone at the team, not just him. The German manufacturer wrapped up the constructors’ championship at Imola last weekend.
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas now the only two contenders for the drivers’ crown. Hamilton could wrap up the title this weekend if various scenarios play out in Sunday’s Turkish Grand Prix. Wolff has openly admitted he is looking for a different role.
Wolff told Motorsport.com, “It has not only taken a toll on myself, but it has taken a toll on everybody who is involved in the project. Blood, sweat and tears, that is going on behind closed doors, but you never see that.”
“It seems like that we are rocking up on track and winning races, but the truth is there is so much sacrifice behind that on such an afternoon [when you win], it, just compensates for everything.”
The Austrian says that one of the keys to Mercedes continued success is that they have kept striving to improve. Explaining that the initial target was to win one in 2014, before revising to push for more.
He says it started with a ‘tree-hugging exercise’ in 2014 when they wrote on the wall ‘win a championship’. Then former engineering director Aldo Costa said “I don’t think that’s ambitious enough. We should write on the wall: we aim to win multiple driver and constructor world championships”
Wolff admitted that at the time it seemed a bit far fetched, but continued to inspire the team.
Red Bull can make success of engine programme
Mercedes F1 CEO and team principal Toto Wolff believes that Red Bull can make a success of running Honda’s F1 engines in the future. The Austrian team l is currently weighing up its power unit plans from 2022 after Honda announced it was withdrawing from the sport.
Red Bull has made it clear its preferred option would be to take over the current Honda engine project and run the power units itself. However, such a plan would require F1 to impose a freeze on engine development, as Red Bull cannot afford to keep upgrading the power unit in the way other manufacturers can.
Renault and Ferrari have both indicated they will not support the idea, Mercedes is supportive of the idea. Wolff thinks that Red Bull’s experience as an engineering company puts in a good place to make a takeover of the Honda project something that can deliver its results.
Wolff told Motorsport.com, “Red Bull is not only a racing team and a very successful racing team but also an engineering company. It seems Honda has done a good job in bringing updates to the power unit. There is some good stuff in the pipeline, and they’re still going to be around next year, giving it all to be successful in the championship.”
“That’s why I think that Red Bull can be successful in running the Honda IP and developing the Honda IP. But then, in the mid-term, we are going to innovate, all of us, to work on a new engine concept that could be introduced as early as 2024 or2025.”
Wolff believes that F1 can be healthy with just three engine manufacturers if the Honda plan does not happen, but it needs to look at the bigger picture to understand the value of keep an extra option there.
He thinks it also better for F1 to ensure that the Red Bull teams stick around. Adding “I think for them going back to customer status is not something they are very keen on.”
Wolff says Honda has done a good job.
Williams changes trackside team following cases of Coronavirus
Williams will make changes to its F1 trackside team personnel for the Turkish Grand Prix after encountering several Coronavirus cases at the last two races.
Throughout the pandemic, the teams have been working with reduced on-site personnel numbers through 2020 as part of the FIA’s protocols to run Grands Prix during the current pandemic.
They have also been required to take part in regular testing by the FIA, with reduced on-site personnel numbers through 2020 as part of the FIA’s protocols to run Grands Prix during the current pandemic. For this weekends race in Istanbul, the team have swapped some team members following positive tests at Portimao and Imola.
A statement the team said, “Williams can confirm that we have had a number of positive COVID-19 cases during the course of the Portuguese and Emilia Romagna Grands Prix.”
“Whilst we will not be detailing any individual’s private information, we can confirm that all cases have been managed in line with the FIA COVID-19 guidelines, working with the FIA and with the ongoing safety of our people a priority.”
Williams said because of the guidelines several members of these trackside operations were now self-isolating after being identified as close contacts of these positive cases. It also confirmed additional staff from the factory would be drafted in to cover the roles.
It added, “We would like to extend our thanks to all our travelling and factory-based team members and their families, for their continued work and support during what is an extremely challenging time.”
Paddock personnel are required to complete a COVID-19 test every five days while working at F1 events, as well as one within the first 24 hours of arriving in the paddock.
Bahrain bans fans with health workers permitted
Organisers of the Bahrain and Sakhir Grand Prix have confirmed this year’s race will still take place behind closed doors, with a limited number of seats for “families of frontline health workers and first responders”.
In late February before the scale of the coronavirus pandemic became clear, it was announced no fans would be allowed to attend the race which was due to be held on 20 – 22 March.
The decision was made by Bahrain’s Crown Prince “to recognise their incredible contribution and commitment in responding to the pandemic”.
Bahrain has recorded 83,264 cases of Coronavirus and 329 deaths since reporting its first cases in February.
Grosjean doesn’t like radio message broadcast
Romain Grosjean says that he does not like that all radio messages in F1 can be broadcast on TV following two recent incidents involving drivers’ comments.
Max Verstappen and Lando Norris have both been criticised for there comments made about Lance Stroll during the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend. Norris apologised after swearing at Stroll following a crash in the race, while Verstappen said it was “not correct” for him to use offensive language that led to condemnation from the Mongolian government.
All team radio between the cars and the pit wall is broadcast via F1’s streaming service, F1 TV, and is often also played on broadcasts and circulated on social media after the race.
Asked by Motorsport.com, the chairman of the GPDA questioned whether the open radio broadcasts made it more difficult for drivers to speak their minds, Grosjean questioned if all messages should be published.
He said “First things first, why is it broadcasted? The cockpit and the radio to your team is your own environment, and I don’t like radio messaging being broadcasted.”
“Imagine if you were broadcasting what’s going on the football pitch? I think it is more fruity and colourful. You can’t always speak your mind. You need to respect people. We’re not perfect at it, and I’m not. I’m far from being perfect at it.”
Grosjean says people need to be aware that drivers are driving at around 330kmh, pushing to the limit and knowing that there is a risk involved.
Norris has also apologies for comments made about Lewis Hamilton in the wake of his record-breaking ninety second Grand Prix victory in Portugal, saying the Mercedes driver only had two other cars to beat.
It led to some questions about the freedom F1 drivers had when making comments, with Grosjean acknowledging it was not possible to be completely honest.
Norris launches own eSports team
Lando Norris has announced he is launching of his own esports team called Quadrant. The Englishman gained a huge following during lockdown in March and April until the start of the season by taking part in various eSports, including F1, events like Le Mans, Not The GP Series.
Norris is the second driver this year to launch an eSports team after Romain Grosjean announced R8G Sim Racing back in April.
But while Grosjean’s team is solely focused on competing in online races, Norris says he wants to develop a team that competes in events across the whole spectrum of esports.
Norris’ new venture will see him team up with some of the top streamers in a variety of online games. He told BBC News, “Quadrant is something I’ve wanted to do for a long while The lockdown accelerated things because I was doing a lot more streaming online and getting more into it.”
Adding “We are starting reasonably small but with the dream of expanding and becoming a much bigger team throughout all esports and not just racing.”
Norris says his focus remains on racing, but hopes he can expand into “many other different categories of esports and games.” He has always been an avid online gamer but his interactions with fans on the streaming platform Twitch saw his followers rise from 185,000 to over 600,000 during the first lockdown.
The series’ organiser, Veloce Esports, has joined with Norris for the launch of Quadrant and co-founder Jamie MacLaurin says their initial focus will be on helping to develop Norris’ online presence.