Honda only reaching testing target now
Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa says that the Japanese manufacturer has only just reached the performance levels they had been targeting at the start of testing.
The relationship between Honda and McLaren has come under a lot of strain this season after three seasons without a competitive and reliable power unit. McLaren currently sits ninth in the contractors and are only narrowly ahead of Sauber.
There have been signs of progress recently with Fernando Alonso claiming sixth in Hungary as well as doing the fastest lap during the race. The engine also performed well at the power sensitive Silverstone, but Hasegawa says that he is disappointed that it has taken until the half way point of the season to reach this level.
He told Racer “It is difficult for me to say it is satisfying. the current level of performance is what we had to achieve at the beginning of the season.”
“So for me I’m thinking, ‘At last we can achieve the level of performance we should have been at in Barcelona.’ So it took around five months. From a normal technical development common sense point of view, to catch up that level in five months, we have to be proud of that.”
Hasegawa says the upwards step in performance was too late and he was disappointed it took until halfway through the season to reach the level they are at now.
Despite the doubts the future of the McLaren – Honda partnership, Hasegawa says the relationship remains at a good level.
Correlation issues behind Red Bull’s problems
Red Bull says it believes that the team’s slow start to the season was caused by this year’s bigger cars affecting the performance of its windtunnel.
Red Bull was expected to gain massively from the revised aerodynamic regulations and expected to be fighting with Mercedes and Ferrari. But had struggled early on as they were struggling with the getting the simulation to work on the car.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said in June, that the problem has been solved but admitted it has set the team’s programme back considerably.
Horner told Autosport “We came in on the back foot really, the tools weren’t correlating with what we were seeing on the track. Predominantly it was the windtunnel that was leading us a little bit astray.”
“The size of the model, the size of the tyres in the tunnel that we have gave some spurious results whereas previously they’ve been very, very reliable in specific areas and suddenly we have this divergence between track and tunnel and CFD.
“The big issue that we had was that the car suddenly got a lot wider, a lot bigger, a lot more blockage in the tunnel, and our particular windtunnel was pretty sensitive to that, with issues that we haven’t seen previously.” He says that cost the team about two to two and a half months to recover.
This season, Red Bull changed their design philosophy going for a low-drag option. The previous concept had focused on cornering strength making up for straight-line deficiencies. Despite the weaknesses of the design, Red Bull stuck with the development programme.
Upgrades an “important” breakthrough
Nico Hulkenberg says that Renault’s recent upgrade package is an “Important” breakthrough for the team in their bid to return to the top of Formula One.
Recent developments, including a new floor at Silverstone, has brought the French manufacturer to the front of the midfield. Plus at Silverstone, the German finished sixth and was the only driver who finished on the same lap as the top three teams.
However the team remain in eighth in the constructor’s championship, but Hulkenberg says the correlation between predicted factory improvements and on-track gains with its update package was a significant milestone in progress this season.
Asked by Autosport about the importance of the success of the updates, Hulkenberg said “It’s important. It’s encouraging.”
“I’ve had that for many years: promise, promise, bring the update and it actually didn’t do anything. We tried to extract something and it was never there.”
“Then I’ve had the last two years at Force India – it was always working as promised and a big step forward. Again, this year it seems the same. It has to be like this if you want to play with the big players if you want to make big progress.” He says that correlation is vital to the development.
Hulkenberg admits that the next two races, at Spa and Monza which are both power dependent, would hide some gains. But is still has optimism that there would be some signs of progress.
Saying “Of course you gain momentum if you have good performance. Naturally, it supplies momentum and good vibes and positive feelings.
“After the summer break in Spa/Monza, they are two massive power tracks, so it might be a bit more tricky there. But in terms of grip, balance, that sort of thing, I think we made a good step forward.”
Carey bonuses linked to performance
Liberty Media has confirmed that the remunerations at Formula One CEO Chase Carey receives is heavily linked to the financial performance of the sport.
The news comes as Liberty posted their second quarter results showing a three percent rise on the sport’s income which is now £4.8 million with operating income falling to £45m from £69.7m. which is a drop of fifty percent.
Liberty boss, Greg Maffei noted in the results “We don’t plan to publish his contract, but I did want to share with you the fact that the substantial majority of Chase’s compensation is performance-related, and tied into the operational performance at F1 directly, or the stock of the F1 Group.”
F1 CEO Carey confirmed that the costs of running the Formula One Group will continue to rise as they look to increase senior staff and other investments like F1 Live and the pursuit of digital technology. Carey said, “We’ve talked roughly about $50m a year, and as we go through the planning and budgeting process this fall will probably get refined, because it is more than just head count.”
“We had events like F1 Live in London that we think are the type of events that are important for us to engage with fans much more actively and broadly.”
A lot of the planning and budgeting will take time, as they bring people onto the board and look for a new base in London.
Speaking about F1’s UK tax arrangements, in respect of the use of interest payments to reduce its liability – something that was previously standard practice.
“We’ve successfully eliminated an expensive $1bn tier of debt, repriced our remaining debt, and have also received upgrades from the ratings agencies,” he noted. “The combined effects of which will be to reduce annual interest expense by up to $90m going forward.”
Sainz rumours were due to ‘paddock boredom’
Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost says that the speculation about the future of Carlos Sainz is caused by paddock boredom. Last month, the Spaniard caused confusion about his future with the team after he said he was unlikely to stay at Toro Rosso next season.
That then prompted rumours that Sainz could make the midseason switch to Renault. Which made the French manufacturer make moves to reassure Jolyon Palmer on the morning of the British GP that his seat was safe, and Tost called it “unserious speculation”.
Tost told Autosport “I don’t know where this rumour is coming [from] that he was [going to be] driving in Budapest for I don’t know which team. This is Formula 1, you see people sitting around, it’s boring for them, and then they come up with some stories or some dreams or whatever.”
“Then they talk with one another and then it starts going around,” Tost said that Sainz’s future is a matter for Red Bull and they have his contract to make it their decision.
Sainz says that he has learnt from the uncomfortable situation and Tost says he wants the driving to do the taking from now on.
I have proved I’m not a pay driver – Stroll
Lance Stroll says he believes that his results in the first half of the season proved his family has not paid for his seat. The eighteen-year-old made his debut for Williams this season, following a difficult start to the season.
But after scoring points in his home race and a brilliant drive to third at the following race in Azerbaijan the Canadian as proved himself to be more than a ‘pay driver.’ His father is 782nd on the Forbes rich list which caused him to earn that status.
Stroll says those critics should look at his results so far. Asked how he deals with the money question, Stroll told ESPN: “You just turn it off, but at the same time you have to look at the facts. I’m not here to prove anyone wrong, I’m here to do it for myself and my team.”
“I’m not here to ‘show the critics’, or whatever it is, I know why I’m here and that I deserve to be here. I won Formula 3 championship and was the youngest ever to win it, and by a massive margin, and a lot of work went into it.” He says being the youngest rookie to be on the podium has proved the doubters wrong.
However, Stroll admitted that those recent results, speak for themselves. He also says that his wealth doesn’t come into securing a place in F1 ultimately came down to his ability to deliver results.
Saying “I won my championships to get here, I won my Formula 4 championship, I won my Formula 3 championship, I did all that and I got my super licence points which not everyone can get. You have to go out and deliver the results to get that and get into Formula One.”
Stroll says he is thankful for the opportunities he had growing up and says there is more to the story than just my father’s money.