Renault boss resigns
Fred Vasseur the team principal of Renault, has resigned from the French team just weeks before the start of the season.
The Frenchman joined the team at the start of last year from ART, following Renault’s takeover of Louts and oversaw the restructuring of the team. Renault had a difficult season on track which they expected, Vassuer and managing director Cyril Abiteboul on a major restructuring and recruitment drive to help it move forward in the longer term.
During the middle of the campaign, Vasseur was made team principal, with Abiteboul moving to a factory role at Enstone to help guide the operation. There have been suggestions that there has been fallout between Vasseuyr and the board over the direction of the team.
A statement said “After a first season spent relaunching and rebuilding its Formula 1 team, Renault Sport Racing and Frederic Vasseur have agreed by mutual consent to part company, effective as of today.”
“Both parties remain committed to maintaining the good working relationship they have enjoyed and expect this to take a new form sometime in the future.”
The departure of Vasseur is unlikely to impact day to day operations, as much of this is run by Chief Technical officer and former team boss / managing director Bob Bell, along with technical director Nick Chester, sporting director Alan Permane and chief race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam.
Differences caused me to quit – Vasseur
Outgoing Renault team principal Fred Vasseur has told Motorsport.com that differences in senior management was the reason he stood down as team principal.
Today, Renault announced that it had parted company by ‘mutual agreement’ with Vasseur and that president Jerome Stoll and managing director Cyril Abiteboul would now run the outfit together.
In his first interview, Vassuer explained he had come to the conclusion that Renault’s chances in F1 would be hindered if there continued to be differing views about what needed to be done.
In an exclusive interview, Vasseur explained “The reason is that there was too much different vision in the management of the team, so at this stage I think it makes sense for me to leave.”
“For the Renault team also, if you want to perform in F1, you need to have one leader in the team and one single way. If you have two different visions then the result is that the work inside the team is slow.” He said that discussions failed to find a compromise and following leave in december he made the decision last week.
Vasseur admits there is some sadness in leaving the staff who had made great efforts last year, but he felt it would have been wrong to carry on. “ It is a small frustration, but I have a positive feeling that we did all together a good job on some points: in terms of recruitment, in terms of restructuring the company and also in track operations.”
Vasseur says he thinks the team will be challenging for the top five this season because of the work to lay the foundations. He is yet deciding what his future would hold, but he had no doubt he would return to a racing role outside of F1.
Force India pass crash test
Force India announced on Monday, that the VJM10 past all the FIA mandatory crash tests on the first attempt. All cars are now required under the regulations before pre-season testing.
Testing begins at the end of next month meaning that all teams are required to pass all the safety tests before being allowed to run. Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer, confirmed to Racer that the team had past all the test at the first attempt.
He told the magazine “We’re well on our way with the car build. We’ve passed all of our FIA tests which is great, first try. All the crash tests – the roll hoop test, side intrusion test, front nose test – we’ve passed, which is great because it’s all new.”
Szafanuer said it was the first time that the team has laminated and built the tub in-house, which worked really well. Force India has always close eye on the process. Last season the team finished fourth in the constructors’ championship, for the first time in its history last year.
He says this is “because now we have control ourselves we can cut down the manufacturing time and allow more design and development time.” Also he confirmed the team aren’t impacted by the clarification from the FIA which affectively outlawed the use of FRIC.
News – in – Brief
- Marchionne to stand down in 2019 – Sergio Marchione has told the press at the Detroit Motorshow he plans to stand down as president and CEO of Fiat-Chrysler and Ferrari in early 2019. He was appointed chairman after a merger in August 2014 after the merged.
- Rosberg Nomination – World Champion Nico Rosberg has been nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award. Rosberg is up against Leicester City and Iceland’s international football team in the Breakthrough of the Year category. His former Mercedes team are also up for Team of the Year.
Pirelli tyre options for Bahrain and Russia
Pirelli have announced the latest tyre options which the teams can chose from for the Bahrain and Russian Grand Prix’s.
For the Bahrain race Pirelli have nominated the same tyres as last year, the red Supersoft, yellow soft and white Medium compounds. With the Supersofts being assigned for Q3 and at least one set of the Mediums and Softs being required for a stint during the race.
For the Russian race Pirelli have dropped the Medium compound in favour of the Ultrasoft tyres. The Ultra being assigned for Q3 and at least one set of the Supersoft and Softs being required for a stint during the race.
These announcements are slightly earlier because non-European races need to be made fifteen weeks in advance, whereas for European races the deadline is eight weeks.
Renault a new girlfriend after long marriage
Nico Hulkenberg has described his switch from Force India to Renault like getting a new girlfriend following a long marriage. The German left the team after five years for the French manufacturer.
Hulkenberg is hoping that he can lead the team back to the top of the sport, after he feels he achieved everything he could especially after the team finished fourth last season.
He was asked by F1.com if the move would help him avoid getting into a routine of being in one place, jokingly he replied “Exactly — after my long ‘marriage’ with Force India I felt I needed a new girlfriend! Jokes aside, I am deeply grateful to Force India and left on an absolute high note.”
He says Force India achieved an “impossible dream” last season. But says the move to Renault, a works team, is the right step for him to achieve new success saying “Renault and myself are challengers with good potential.”
Renault struggled last season following their late and delayed takeover of Lotus, with the team admitting it focused on the longer term goals. Hulkenberg understands how the expectations differ at Renault.
He said “At Force India we were ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. But then again, we didn’t have the prerequisites and sheer power of manufacturers, who enter the competition under completely different conditions.”
Zetsche respects Rosberg’s retirement
Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche says he fully respects the decision that Nico Rosberg made to retire from the sport after winning the championship. Last month Rosberg shocked the paddock by announcing his retirement, days after sealing the title.
Zetsche told Autocar “I respected that decision. I mean, obviously, one [Hamilton] is saying ‘I want more and more and I want to break more records and make history’, and the other one [Rosberg] is saying ‘well, I finally fulfilled my life dream and what can be on top of that?’, and both approaches are legitimate.”
Zetsche says it would have been easier and more pleasant for the team to have two championships but this would not be less of a fight. Adding “And so I was not insulted or totally disappointed. I respected his decision.”
Valtteri Bottas is widely tipped to replace Rosberg in a deal brokered with Finn’s current employers Williams.