Renault warn clock ticking on engine regulations
Renault’s team principal Cyril Abiteboul has warned that the “clock is ticking” to finalise the new engine regulations which are due to be introduced in 2021.
In October, Liberty and the FIA’s proposals were rejected by the current manufacturers who want to stick with the current regulations with tweaks to the aero formula. The reason they rejected the plan because they feared a huge rise in costs and that no new entrants have come forward.
Another round of negotiations took place last week, however, the Frenchman says that the clock was now ticking if the sport wants a completely different engine. Abiteboul told Motorsport.com, “the clock is ticking if we want it to have a completely different engine for 2021. Certainly summer break this year would be the red line.”
“Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso were massively driving the change because it was clear to them that, independently from our situation, they had to think about their own situation.”
Abiteboul says all the manufacturers are aligned: “I think we are talking about details right now but I think in general we agree on the target, we agree it is better to keep the existing platform, and we agree that we can make a better job with the existing platform.
“In our opinion, we still accept the fact that we need to improve the power unit for other reasons, mainly for the show, for the race, for the customer teams, for the manufacturers in terms of cost also.”
Abiteboul says that all the manufacturers respect that position and says that the MGU-H should stay, as without it there would be stability problems with the power.
Abiteboul also believes that some changes could be brought in earlier than 2021.
“Those things, frankly, we could do next year, we don’t need to wait until 2021. That’s one of the things I think we should discuss, if we agree on interesting improvement for 2021, maybe we should envisage which of those improvements could be done before that.”
Brawn says new regulations will encourage new teams
Formula One managing director motorsport and technical Ross Brawn is hoping that the regulations due to be introduced in 2021, will encourage new teams to enter the sport.
Brawn has been tasked with improving the on-track racing since Liberty took over the sport last year. He leads a group of technical bosses from across the sport who are looking at ways of allowing more teams to challenge for victories.
He told F1 Fans, “Quite frankly, I can’t see a new team coming in today because the revenue distribution and commercial distribution of funds and the technical regulations are too daunting.”
“We want to create an environment where there is a queue of professional organisations wanting to own and be a Formula One team.”
“We have always had this margin of teams at the bottom of Formula One that are hanging on with their fingernails, and often falling, and we want quality competitors, not just people making up the numbers and saying they are in Formula One if they can’t step up”
He says that in the future the sport wants professional, well-financed and structured teams, which he believes will be the measure of success. Brawn admitted that the challenge was to keep the existing manufacturers happy while being attractive to new manufacturers.
F1 wants to retain the existing 1.6-litre, V6 engine architecture in 2021, but with a number of significant changes to reduce costs, boost power and improve the noise.
Among those proposed changes was the removal of the MGU-H — the part of the hybrid system that recovers energy from the turbo. The plan also permitted an increase in the fuel allowance so that the engines can rev to 18,000rpm, making them sound better, while an uprated MGU-K was tabled to ensure they remained both powerful and road relevant.
The biggest debate is about the future of the MGU-H, however, it’s a sticking point because the removal of the hybrid element will be costly for the manufacturers to develop two units at once.
He said “We have to respect their opinions and we have to respect their involvement. I think those teams will also say they know Formula One needs some direction from ourselves and the FIA.
“You see it in their relationships between the teams and you will see there are periods when some teams are aligned and some periods when they are not aligned.”
Carey vows to fight for German GP
Formula One CEO Chase Carey says he is ready to fight for the future of the German Grand Prix, following the success of this year’s race. Last month, Carey vowed to save both the German and British Grand Prix’s who are both struggling financially.
Last month both races saw a near sell-out crowd, however, both are struggling to afford the fees which they pay to the sport to hold the race. Both remain in negotiations with Liberty about the future of the races.
Meanwhile, the Belgian Grand Prix recently renewed its contract thanks to funding from the local government. However, speaking to Sport Bild about the German situation, he said “We’re fighting for it. Hockenheim is an important track, Germany is an automotive nation with a big fan base and it’s an important country for us.”
“The scene in the stadium section this year was impressive. And yes, obviously we want Formula One to continue to keep growing with you [Germany]. But we need partners that would engage with and support a race. We are working on that.”
The uncertainties about contracts means that the sport has been unable to release a draft calendar, which usually comes around mid-June, this year the draft is expected by the end of the month.
Despite the uncertainties, Carey believes that the title battle between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, Mercedes and Ferrari proves that the sport is in good health.
Saying “The duel between Vettel and Hamilton is so epic; it’s like John McEnroe v Jimmy Connors. Both are big champions and they fight with everything they have against each other, especially for their fifth title. And Hamilton with his big emotional gestures does us a big favour because he polarises opinion with that.”
Wrong to see Honda’s high rate of changes as poor reliability
Max Verstappen believes that its wrong to interpret Honda’s high number of engine changes this season as poor reliability. Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s sister team, have used more engine components than any other team this season.
Both Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly are on the limit or have exceeded the limit of the number of penalty-free components. The New Zealander has exceeded the number of turbochargers, MGU-H and MGU-Ks, energy stores and control electronics allowed for the year.
Gasly has used almost the same number as his teammate but has currently gone through one fewer combustion engine and MGU-K respectively. Next Year, the senior Red Bull team are switching to Honda, but the Dutchman says that doesn’t concern him.
He told Motorsport.com, “I don’t think they have had a lot of issues. Most of the time, maybe they had a bad qualifying so then it doesn’t really make a lot of difference for them to take a new component, so that’s what they are doing.”
“I’m not too worried. And they still have quite a few races coming up to understand the package, and for next year it’s going to be a new engine, it’s different.” Verstappen believes that Honda is a good brand and have learnt from there mistakes.
However, he warned that Red Bull would only benefit from taking tactical penalties.
Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe told Motorsport.com that it is still establishing the “limit” between performance and reliability. He also said the evaluation of problems that emerged after its upgraded F1 engine was introduced in Canada revealed there was no fundamental problem with the engine itself.
Sainz describes season as “wired”
Carlos Sainz has described his 2018 season as “weird”, and believes that his on-track results are not matching the progress he believes he has made.
The Spaniard has made a solid start in the first half of the season, scoring points in eight of the twelve races meaning he is currently eleventh in the championship on thirty points.
However, since Paul Ricard in June things haven’t gone his way after he retired with an engine problem, then at Silverstone he collided with Romain Grosjean and then earned a ten-second penalty for passing under the safety car in Hockenheim.
That has left him twenty-two points behind Nico Hulkenberg, who Renault are retaining to drive alongside Daniel Ricciardo. Sainz who is a member of Red Bull’s driver programme could be in line to replace Ricciardo, alongside former teammate Max Verstappen.
Speaking to Autosport, before the announcement, Sainz said “It’s been weird, because I was achieving a lot of points at the beginning of the year without being 100% comfortable with the car, and working very hard to get it a bit back [to where I was comfortable].”
“I think Barcelona was a good turning point, where I was able to get that stability, that confidence with the car. Since then, a lot of things have happened to me on race day and the points suddenly are not coming, even if I’m pretty confident with the car.”
He says that the situations that he has been in on Sundays does not reflect the whole picture. One of the areas where Renault has struggled this season is with tyre management, Sainz described as a “wake up call” and “turning point” in how the team understands tyre management.
Sainz says Renault has now changed its approach to races, but is adamant the team knows what is causing the issue.
“Since then we’ve been a lot more cautious and a lot more realistic that we do have a problem with tyre wear come Sunday, or come Friday and we make it better for Sunday.”
Massa upset by Stroll’s “no guidance” comments
Felipe Massa says it upset him when his former Williams teammate Lance Stroll said he felt that the Brazilian did not give him guidance last year.
Last year, the team asked Massa to extend his career to guide Stroll with his experience during the Canadian’s first season. Between them, they helped the team to finish fifth in the constructors. Earlier this year, Stroll told Motorsport.com “I don’t think I had any guidance from him last year, whatsoever” and said, “I don’t know why people seem to think there was a coach or a mentor thing going on”.
Massa said on Brazilian TV, it was “better not to comment” at the time but has now responded to Stroll’s remarks. Adding “I did a lot for him, with all humility.”
“When I first met him, he was 7 years old, so it was a pleasure for me to be with him, trying to help him. He came in with great difficulty to have the speed, to understand an F1 car, to understand how the tyres work, as he was 18 years old.”
“I was very close to him, I talked a lot, I tried to help in things that I have never seen a driver [try to help].” Massa says he tried to mentor Stroll the same way he was mentored by Michael Schumacher.
Stroll and Massa had a small disagreement once the season started, based on Massa’s criticism of Williams picking two well-backed, young drivers.
Massa, now the president of the FIA’s karting division and preparing for his maiden Formula E campaign, reiterated his belief that Williams “took a direction that is not the correct one”
The Week Ahead
Well next week is the last full week before the summer break ends, that means that towards the end of the week most drivers and teams will begin looking towards Spa and Monza. The upgrades will be key going into the races as teams will have there last big upgrade in Spa, for logistical reasons.
I believe now we know that Red Bull have a seat free, speculation will continue to grow as it has done over the last week. Until Red Bull and Ferrari announce their new line up, its very unlikely that the other teams and drivers will want to confirm line ups.
There are reports that we may get a draft calendar by Spa/Monza, we may hear some races announce the provisional dates. We know already that Monaco is 26th May, Melbourne likely to be 14th March, Austria 30th June, Hungary 28th July and suggestions that Abu Dhabi will be pushed to December 1st in 2019. Also, where is the 1,000 Grand Prix in April?
The problem is Liberty over packed the June / July schedule, which caused extra work for everyone. We know this was a one-off due to the World Cup, but they will want to avoid the first weekend in November with the Rugby World Cup and where does Japan sit as host nation does that move to April time like with Russia this year.
We may hear more from Force India’s new owners about a long-term vision and there plan for upgrades in the remainder of the season. Those plans are key going forward, do they focus on 2019?