McLaren appoints Seidl as F1 director
McLaren has announced that it has appointed Andreas Seidl as the group’s managing director for Formula One. Seidl was formerly the team principal of Porsche’s WEC team and his appointment is part of a turn around programme following a difficult 2018.
The German arrives at the will join “during 2019”, reporting to chief executive officer Zak Brown. Brown said Seidl was “a highly capable leader with a track record of success”. He added: “It is another important step in our F1 performance recovery plan and long-term commitment to F1.”
Seidl previously worked for BMW between 2000-09, but is yet to agree on a start date or how much gardening leave he will need before joining the team.
He said, “This is an enormous privilege and challenge. To have an opportunity to contribute to the McLaren legacy is extremely special and inspiring.”
“McLaren has the vision, leadership and experience but, most importantly, the people to return to the front, and that will be my absolute focus and mission.”
McLaren has decided it needs direct control of the operational and oversight of its F1 team, but that cannot be Brown. Brown as CEO of the racing division oversees the division, this appointment allows him to spend more time on looking at the IndyCar programme which starts this season, as well as the future entry into the World Endurance Championship.
“Concentrated senior leadership on our F1 programme is an integral part of the long-term strategy of McLaren Racing to expand into other forms of global motorsport over time,” Brown said.
The team has also undertaken a reshuffle of the technical team, following the mid-season departures of racing director Eric Boullier and engineering director Matt Morris in July, as well as the sacking of chief technical officer Tim Goss in April.
McLaren has re-signed Pat Fry, who left them to join Ferrari in 2010 before being fired at the end of 2014, as engineering director and have appointed James Key as technical director. Key will start work for McLaren this year, probably in the spring or early summer. While Boullier was immediately replaced by IndyCar driver Gil De Ferran as sporting director.
Honda to stick with same engine concept
Red Bull will be hoping that there season and car will be boosted by Honda sticking to the same concept for the third season for the first time within the V6 turbo-hybrid era.
Honda re-joined the F1 grid in 2015 with McLaren and made solid progress in 2016, but overhauled its package for 2017 and suffered a major reliability setback. But, following their split with McLaren the Japanese Manufacturer has rebuilt its reputation following a much stronger season with Toro Rosso.
The step forward in progress was enough to convince the senior team to make the switch from Renault for the coming season. Honda’s 2019 engine will be a further evolution of the new design it introduced back in 2017. It believes it still has untapped potential from this concept as well as guaranteeing better reliability than another overhaul.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe said “We can carry over the current design, or concept, of PU. We don’t know exactly [what the limit is] because we haven’t achieved a high level but we started with another concept and changed it for 2017.”
“We learned something earlier, then changed it. In 2018, we carried over this concept and improved reliability and performance. At the moment we think this concept change is not wrong. It’s suitable. Still, we [intend to] carry over this concept and try to improve.”
Recently there has been reports that Honda has discovered a new vibration when it has been dyno testing, but it is believed that this hasn’t set them back majorly.
Convincing Red Bull to switch to Honda was a major result for the Japanese manufacturer after just one year with Toro Rosso. As previously reported, the close relationship of the two Red Bull-owned teams will give Honda a technical boost as it prepares to supply two teams again – and it also helps validate the decision to keep the same engine idea.
Tanabe added “When you change the concept of the design a lot, it’s very hard to get reliability. It depends on the design level but I’m comfortable with carrying over our current concept.”
“We have a new team, a new design of the car. It is a little bit easier to carry over that concept because the detail is in the installation of the car.”
Ricciardo to take Renault to “another dimension”
Four times champion and special advisor to Renault Alain Prost says that the arrival of Daniel Ricciardo will help to take the team to “another dimension.” Prost believes that the former Red Bull driver will bring useful knowledge to the team.
Ricciardo switches to Renault from Red Bull to partner Nico Hulkenberg, he will be looking for the manufacturer to make another step forward this year.
Prost told Motorsport.com, “We are very happy with the drivers we had in 2018, that’s the first thing we must say. We’re very pleased with Carlos [Sainz]. But for sure Daniel will give, not another motivation because we don’t need that.”
“But he’s going to be quite a big help to make the team even better. He’s going to give us some information, he’s going to make the team in another dimension.” The Frenchman admitted that the team “missed some opportunities” in 2018, but is convinced the team will make progress next season.
He also says the fourth place it secured in the constructors was despite turning its focus to future development. “In fact, if you look at all the teams you always have some ups and downs. We were maybe not where we wanted to be in the summer, for different reasons, but we came back.”
“The engine side was a little bit better, on the chassis side there were a few things where maybe we missed some opportunities.” Prost says that the team wanted fourth to be best of the rest as well as being close to them.
But he says that the team cannot constantly progress as there are steps along the way. Prost says “One thing that is difficult to accept sometimes is that especially Ferrari and Mercedes made a big improvement with the engine.”
Renault expected to give an update on Ghosn
Renault and Nissan were due to update its directors on Thursday on the investigation into chairman Carlos Ghosn misconduct and discuss ways of bolstering governance.
The news has been reported by the French newspaper Le Figaro and comes a day before Japanese prosecutors are expected to indict the Renault boss and former Nissan chairman on more charges. When asked for comment, Renault did not return calls and messages seeking comment.
The reports come from the Reuters news agency.
In a statement, Nissan said after a discussion on the latest developments surrounding Ghosn that it remained committed to its alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors.
The board also said it had decided on a new interim process to determine compensation for directors and executives and had agreed to widen the scope of company decisions that will be reviewed by the board, as part of a drive to improve governance.
Ghosn and senior Nissan director Greg Kelly, have been charged in Japan with failing to disclose $43 million in additional compensation for 2010-15 that Ghosn had arranged to be paid later.
Both Ghosn and Kelly deny the allegations against them, but Ghosn is likely to be formally charged with aggravated breach of trust for temporarily transferring personal investment losses to Nissan in 2008, and for understating his compensation for three more years through 2018, a person with knowledge of the matter said earlier.
Things weren’t right at Ferrari – Brundle
Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle, believes that “things weren’t right” at Ferrari last season following the departure of team principal Maurizio Arrivabene. Ferrari fought hard against Mercedes last season, but a series of errors cost the team the title.
Arrivabene was ousted by mutual consent and replaced by chief technical officer Mattia Binotto. Speaking on the opening day of Autosport International, Brundle said he did not like to get “personal” with his assessment because “you don’t know what you don’t know if you’re not inside an organisation”.
He added “But I did observe it, and see that things weren’t right. You look at situations like Hockenheim, where Vettel was put under pressure because they didn’t do the right things earlier on in the race. Then he fell off the road, and he fell out of the championship from that moment onwards.”
“You look at other things like the slipstreaming in Monza [when Vettel did not get a tow off Kimi Raikkonen because Ferrari stuck to a previously-agreed order on-track]. Certain things weren’t being done.”
Arrivabene has been criticised over the way he handled the media in 2018, particularly after the death of Ferrari president and CEO Sergio Marchionne, who preferred to be the team’s spokesperson.
Brundle said the highly-rated Binotto, who will work under president John Elkann and CEO Louis Camilleri, would need to adapt to such challenges in his new role.
Adding “I do think Mattia Binotto has got a very good reputation in developing the team technically, he’s clearly a leader of people. But of course, now he’s the lightning conductor. He’s got to be up front, he’s got to speak to nasty, horrible people like me in the Formula 1 media.”
Randstad announces a deal with Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso has announced a multi-year deal with the Italian division of the HR company Randstad. Randstad describes itself as a world leader in the provision of human resource services.
The team are to work with the HR company to help promote their Human Forward initiative and achieve some of their broader business objectives. Randstad will become the team’s official HR partner, with a focus on human development, the Randstad logo will appear on the drivers’ race suits and pit crew helmets.
Randstad was previously partnered with Williams, but at the beginning of 2018, the branding appeared to have been removed.
The aim of the partnership is to proactively tackle talent scarcity and take a ‘key role’ in the Development-Work supply chain in order to place those with the necessary specific and complex skills required in the automotive sector.
Team principal Franz Tost said “Results in Formula 1 are down to a team’s ability to operate at a very high level all the time. One has to maintain the highest standards in every aspect of the business.”
“Not only does that mean having the right people in the right jobs at any one time, it also involves ensuring that everyone is working in the right direction while nurturing young talent in order to grow the company.”
The teams HR director Otello Valenti added, “Toro Rosso has a recognized and acknowledged expertise in selecting, training and developing talents in Formula 1 and the partnership with Randstad represents a strategic cooperation for our team. Creating the right mix of talented young people and technical experts is in itself a major project.”
“We work in a fast moving environment where time is the most critical variable and our HR department has to be quick and innovative to attract, grow and give wings to our people to meet our ever-expanding needs.”
The Week Ahead
This weekend we have the Autosport Show, this is one thing which will dominate the news agenda next week as we hear from some of the big names in the sport. We also already know that the McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz are the headliners this year.
We will want to hear the teams message as they begin a new era, today we have looked at the reshuffle in the team who really need to start heading towards the front again. We are likely to have more news next week, it has been a very slow news week in terms of what’s going on.
Liberty marks two years since they took control of F1 and I think over the next two weeks I think we will hear from the management about how it’s gone and the hopes for going forward. We know that this could lead to a standoff over the future of the sport, between teams, manufacturer and Liberty.
Car launch dates and other key dates ahead of Barcelona testing will be announced, as we said last week this is kind of on hold until Mercedes and Red Bull confirm plans. But you need to expect a bigger launch from Red Bull because they have joined forces with Honda.